Don Norman: Designing For People

Nielsen Norman Group

PaperPro Desktop Stapler

PaperPro Stapler.jpg
Who would have thought it -- a better stapler. This is a great example of how even the most mundane, commonplace commodity can be improved. Staplers look pretty simple and their design has not changed much, until now. Many's the time I have had to redo a staple, pulling out the original, bad staple, and trying to do it right: push straight down, hard -- but neither too slow nor too fast. Bah.

PaperPro completely rethought the operation. On the outside, the stapler looks just like the old-fashioned kind, but try it once and be convinced forever. Pushing down on the top cocks a spring. Then, the spring releases -- bam! -- all the energy at once, and the staple shoots into the paper. Effortless. And in my many uses, never a single failure. And I staple a lot, especially as I crank out draft chapter after draft chapter. My stapler says it can do up to 25 pages, but in actuality, it does a lot more.

Hurrah for those who look at old things in a new light. Brilliant. On top of all, no batteries, no electronics. Just simple mechanics.

The company is called Accentra, and PaperPro is a brand. My stapler also has the name “Prodigy” on it. It’s a new company, so the naming strategy seems to be in flux. Moreover, I think they should rethink their branding/design strategy. A truly different product, which this is, should look different. But no, this looks like the plain, old stapler that we have all learned to treat with caution. Oh sure, it has some bright colors and a little flair with the curved base, but basically, it looks like all other staplers. Think big, PaperPro. Make a significant design statement: make products that work differently and better look distinctly different and better. What a missed opportunity! But it is not too late: Hire a great designer (not a good one, a great one) and make a statement. Make the stapler look as different as it behaves.

The Stapler is great. Wired Magazine loved it, even though it has no wires. (Oh, I get it: if something is completely mechanical, why it is wireless. Duh.)

Essays

Books