Cooking

A Lesson in Baby Carrots

Baby Carrots are not actually babies in their Carrot families. They are adults that didn't make the 'good looking club' only to be cut down and shaved into something that doesn't even exist naturally IRL. 

I discovered this fact a few years ago and I think about it from time to time. When I pass by a bag of 'baby carrots,' my heart sinks and I spend about 7 seconds thinking about what their true expressions of form would've been before being tossed into the 'not good enough' corner and then forced to take the same shape as the rest of their fellow rebels. I still always buy a bag to snack on later. Nom nom.

I've been cooking a lot more lately and have actually had to purchase real, adult carrots for recipes. When I meet them in their stacks at the market, they seem so boring. They're all straight, tall, some are chunkier than others, but there's no variety to what I'm looking at and on top of all this, they're dirty and need to be peeled. Ain't nobody got time for that. What's so special about these ones anyway?

Every now and then I'll meet one with a little flair of character that has snuck into a pile on display for the world to see. I tell it, "Show'em who's boss you badass carrot." When I go to the farmer's market, I see the ones who had so much fun in the soil that it's a miracle the gardeners even knew to categorize them as carrots. (Apparently, carrots can throw raging parties where they wrap around each other and end up looking like corkscrews. Party animals.)

  Google search of 'carrots twisted.'

Google search of 'carrots twisted.'

However, when I started to use carrots in my cooking, I as a user of carrots began to appreciate the reliability of the straight and uptight, boring carrots. They were easy to peel and chop, tasted richer in flavor, and according to The Carrot Museum, they are richer in nutrients when they mature the way they are supposed to mature. 

What I'd like to point out here is not that there is a Carrot Museum in this world (what?!), but that as designers in the UX world, sometimes it is best to leave certain components alone. If they are reliable, simple, and satisfying, focus on another aspect that actually needs some change and help. Use your reliable, simple, and satisfying feature to gain trust from your user and anchor your extended experimentations on the foundations of what works and what will, more likely than not, always work. Use it as the stable ingredient in your larger recipe for service delivery and/or digital feature.

As an artist and designer, I like to change things up. A new way of doing things brings fresh perspectives and intentional awareness is heightened when engaging in a novel interaction. You can spice things up every now and then just to keep the user engaged but remember that your experience, as fancy as it can be, will always be an ingredient to a human's larger soup of encounters s/he experiences every day. 

It's hard not to make your UX/Service design shine brightly to stand out from the crowd but I think there is something to be said about being the same, boring yet reliable service available for people. No nonsense. Just a basic and nutritious ingredient to a user's journey throughout his/her day.

Steadiness is a virtue. Perhaps 'baby carrots' would agree.