Examining goPuff against Dieter Rams’ design principles: Part 2

image of gopuff’s marketing screen
image of gopuff’s marketing screen

Last week, I examined the app goPuff and how well it adheres to Dieter Rams’ first 5 design principles. These principles stated that good design is innovative, aesthetic, unobtrusive, and makes a product usable and understandable. You can check out the first half of my goPuff assessment here.

This week I’m going to hone in on the last 5 principles that good design must adhere to and see how goPuff stacks up against them. These final 5 principles insist that good design is

  1. honest
  2. long-lasting
  3. thorough to the last detail
  4. environmentally-friendly
  5. minimal

I think a key part of what this question is after is that “it does not attempt to manipulate the consumer with promises that cannot be kept”. As illustrated by these examples, dishonesty in design can happen when you try to link a product to something else that makes its purpose or impact seem different from what it really is.

Based on goPuff’s marketing site and their mobile app, the service is very straight-forward about their purpose, mission, and vision. They are clear about being a food/essentials delivery service, and they make good on that promise without trying to seem in any way more useful, purposeful, or altruistic that they are. From what I can tell, their design passes the honesty inspection.

I struggle a bit with the idea of anything these days being truly long-lasting. It seems like services, products, and ideas become obsolete within a year or two. Those that haven’t, like Twitter or Instagram, seem to be more the exception than the rule. According to this principle, the product must be able to last many years, “even in today’s throwaway society”.

While I’m sure this service may require some redesigning to keep up with modern trends, that isn’t what this design principle refers to. It has to do with something resisting being fashionable, not giving into the recent trends, and maintaining its function and overall design throughout time. I believe that delivery apps aren’t going anywhere, and will only continue to evolve as the need persists. I’ll call goPuff’s purpose and current functionality long-lasting, but will inevitably require some visual design updates down the road.

I don’t see any issues in the thoroughness of the user flow with this application. It gives clear paths to everything you may need to see and do, and the purchasing process is incredibly simple.

However, there are many inconsistencies with the copy, images, and content, even if they aren’t immediately apparent.

image comparing different product screens in the gopuff app
image comparing different product screens in the gopuff app
Comparison of individual product labeling on goPuff
  • Some products have product descriptions, some have playful taglines, some have nothing at all.
  • Many/most products have no indication of the ingredients in them. A fully thorough product would take that detail into consideration
  • The marketing site includes stylized, consistent icons for product labeling, while the mobile app uses images of actual branded products.

Through goPuff, you are likely to purchase an item either in a box, bag, or individually wrapped. It is then delivered by car in large, thick plastic bags. Unless you are reusing the packaging, being deliberate about recycling, and getting a driver with a hybrid or electric vehicle, I would have to go ahead and say that this design and service are not environmentally friendly.

In short, not really.

Image for post
Image for post

While there are some screens like the Settings and Search screens (second & third from right in above image) with plenty of white space or minimal imagery, the majority of the screens are filled with bright images, colorful boxes, inconsistent layouts, and minimal negative space. It can feel visually overwhelming as you make your way through the flow.

Overall, I love using goPuff. It’s convenient, quick, and reasonably priced. Even if I don’t necessarily think it fulfills all the requirements for a good product, that doesn’t make it worthless or unpleasant to use. I enjoyed thinking more critically about something I use regularly and realizing that a product can still be helpful and enjoyable without being a “great” product. Although that is an awesome goal to strive for, it kind of takes a little burden off designers, doesn’t it? 🙂

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