The User Experience Design (UX) community loves to use the banana as a case study in near-perfect UX design. Who can blame them?
Few things in this world reach perfect little package status. A banana comes pretty darn close + might set a nice bar for us, especially if we’ve been charged to come up with a solution for the CPG (Consumer Packaged Goods) industry.
When I’m sleuthing out better UX, I tend to focus more on the feeling something gives us when we use it. While convenient + awesome for snacking on-the-go, I don’t necessarily feel particularly awesome when I open + eat a banana. I don’t think much about it all, in fact.
What kinds of things make do make me feel good when I use or experience them? I’m going to riff on this. What can inspire us beyond the banana?
I’ll start with the most formidable example I can muster: a kiss on the cheek. Is a kiss on the cheek the highest form of affection? Is it a gentle gift that expects no return squeeze as a handshake does? Weak handshakes have cost some of us important deals + even our jobs. A kiss on the cheek is more elegant than a hug. A weak, one-sided hug is a sad thing. A kiss on the cheek, however, is solely a gift from the giver + may offer more affection more freely per pound than many other interactions between us humans.
Ever gotten a kiss on the cheek from your sweetie in front of a group of people – even a group of strangers? Feels pretty grand. That’s how I’d like most everything to feel. Unreasonable, for sure, but it’s a pretty good bar to try + reach.
There is always time and space for a kiss on the cheek, aboard a crowded train or bus, in a tight seat on an airplane, quickly in passing in the kitchen or hallway, all without contract for some greater or escalated lust or consummation. From behind the receiver in a flickering moment, it requires the receiver not even feel the transmittal of love and communication until after the giver has made their way clear. It is, unto itself, a selfless act of giving + arguably one of the more elegant interactions between humans.
The way Europeans employ it is a superb example. It is used in formal + informal contexts in a non-sexual way, always flattering, in a crowd or an empty room, in private or in public. If it were a fruit, it might be just as perfect as a banana (like that one, up there), comes as-is, in-+-of-itself, as a self-contained, tidy little gift of sustainability – of love, life + grace. It may be the only form of public affection (besides hand-holding) always accepted in almost any context.
I wonder: have I ever heard anyone mutter something negative about witnessing someone give another a kiss on the cheek? Little kids, maybe. When one gets an unexpected peck on the cheek from an admirer + exclaims “yuck!” but there is still something charming + joyous about it.
It is a gift of presence, of being in the moment, grateful, and unashamed to express it. Towards those we love, it is perhaps an irreplaceable way of unselfishly expressing our love for them in the moment we feel it most. It is instantly accessible, unmistakeable + immediately identifiable as a gesture of love + trust, another simple + superior thing worth measuring our solutions against.