Design Cues: A smartwater Bottle

Thirsty at the airport, I bought myself a bottle of smartwater. Till I got on the plane, I still couldn’t figure out how to open it.

Well, I know I can screw the whole cover, but I paid extra just for the small widget at the top that I can pop it open and drink water like a baby (forgive me if the industrial designers didn’t mean so but I always have this wired association every time I see bottled water covers like this.)

I read thoroughly on the bottle, no instructions. I looked closely at the top, no indications.

I have to say, this is the extreme minimalist design, w/o any cracks, hints to cue problem solving. (Sorry for the image quality it was a bumpy ride.)

The bottle sat at my lap for two hours and with my determination compounded by the fact that I had nothing to do bored on the plane but playing with this water bottle, I finally made my way through:

Back to home, a bottle of Arrowhead caught my attention. Crystal clear cues and detailed instructions, as easy as a piece of cake:

And oh, Happy September!


About Kejun Xu
An Information Architect devoted to user experience research. A User Researcher dedicated to user-centered design. A Usability Engineer engaging in making the Web easier to use. A translator and interpreter who loves intercultural communication and bridging people together.

22 Responses to Design Cues: A smartwater Bottle

  1. avg says:

    hope and change

    • avni says:

      i like that design very much. and i’ll pay for that design. who can get money from me. email.

  2. hmm...? says:

    interesting post. thanks

  3. sue says:

    So what did you do to get it open I feel dumb!

  4. Kejun Xu says:

    My bad not spec’d it out: there is a very tiny and inconspicuous crack on the cap where you have to pull very hard…frustrating.

    • Barbara says:

      Thanks. Additionally, look for a small open hole then find another matching hole and pull the tab toward the other hole and wallah!!! Done!!!!

  5. mon says:

    Well, until I read this post I can’t open it. I feel dumb. Thanks for this.

  6. Dan says:

    I want to post quick hello and want to say appreciate for this good article.

  7. Ken says:

    Thank you – I purchased this so that I could have a ‘suck’ cap while driving and I ended up unscrewing the cap to get the water. Now I can use as intended. Guess I’m not smart enough for this water.

    • TheDrew says:

      This is why they call it Smartwater.You gotta have an IQ of 400 to open the damn cap

  8. mr d says:

    Does anyone have the specs for the nozzle? I need them for an engineering project. Thanks.

    • avni says:

      i like that design very much. and i’ll pay for that design. who can get money from me. email.

  9. Jomy says:

    cool…thanks for the tip 🙂 it is so frastrating.

  10. Clarita says:

    I agree, they need instructions. I could not for the life of me figure out how to open. Thanks for this post!

  11. kitkatknit says:

    I can’t figure out how to open mine either. I usually buy the larger bottle.

  12. engineerjay says:

    I opened mine by removing a tear away tab. Being a design engineer it seemed logical that this was the solution. I’m glad I found this site because it was wondering if I should do the same. The tab is opposite of hinge of course, and you can rip it off left to right, or right to left… I thought that was interesting!

    • avni says:

      i like that design very much. and i’ll pay for that design. who can get money from me. email.

  13. Samantha says:

    I am in the middle of the desert, thirsty and I’ve been trying for 20 minutes to open this bottle of water!!
    Okay, I am lying about the desert part, but I seriously can’t figure out the top screw part

  14. paleo_phil says:

    That tear away tab at the very top is not very noticeable. I don’t think I would have figured it out without reading the comments here. Once the small tab is removed it is a simple matter.

  15. Anna says:

    Got the same bottle of water. Googled it, found this. I’m coincidentally also in UX, found this hilarious. Seems nothing changed in four years.

  16. Olivia says:

    oh my gosh! Thanks for this! I was confused at the grocery store but bought it anyhow…and then got home and was still confused! You just saved me! Thanks again!

  17. Janey says:

    Hahaha! I can’t believe anyone over the age of 5 can’t figure this out. All you have to do to figure it out is take one look at the cap and think to yourself ‘there’s a little tab right there, hmmm, I could pull that’. Wow.

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