I recently began to sort through my items as any young adult would when preparing for a move, and I quickly ran into issues of how to best organize my space. As any good designer would, I immediately thought to CAD the space out and see how I could best configure my furniture and design my space for my needs. However, as I began to get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of things I would need to pack and do, I recalled the gentle, prodding words of Marie Kondo.
I’m sure we’ve all heard of the name before, and her famous tidying method. I first heard about this concept when the hit Netflix series “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” came out, and since then it has shaped how I view UX and design as a whole.
What is the Konmari method?
If you haven’t heard about it, the Konmari method is a tidying philosophy that encourages organizing and tidying your belongings based on one simple question:
“Does this spark joy?”
Marie gently walks users through what can be an overwhelming process for many people due to the sheer amount of items they have. It’s a simple formula: as you sort through clothes, books, papers, komono (miscellaneous items), and finally, sentimental items, you look to keep only items that speak to the heart, and thank & discard items whose purpose have passed. Even items that may not really spark joy or take up space like a broom, or a stash of paperwork have a purpose in making your space clean and giving you peace of mind.
When you begin to apply this question to your belongings, you begin to place importance on being purposely mindful, introspective, and forward thinking. You learn to advocate for yourself and your space through making sure that your space is truly a home.
How can we apply this to UX?
When I begin a project and look to try to understand a group of users, I takeaway a few key pillars of the Konmari method.
To seek what’s desirable to our users to “spark joy” in their experience.
As UX designers, it’s our job to study and understand our user’s journey and design for their specific needs. Like identifying what items within my possessions strikes joy, UX design has me asking the same questions when designing for a user or a group of users. While designing for a use case, we look for the things that “spark joy” in the journey and emphasize on this interaction.
To matriculate and experiment with different designs to bring joy.
All interactions in a design hold different levels of joy and impact. While one article of clothing or furniture may not strike joy by itself, a collection or emotions tied to the object can vastly change my interpretation of joy associated with my things. Similarly, by experimenting and iterating on these desirable interactions and designs, we can push a design to grant our users an intuitive and joyful experience.
By decluttering and removing things that do not “bring joy”, we create an intuitive and streamline experience to our user.
Similar to physical and tangible belongings, when all unnecessary clutter is removed and eliminated from a design, what remains are the most desirable points of a product by process. By seeking the desirable designs and developing on it, we can create things that are intuitive, simplified, and effective to the user’s needs and uses.
As designers, we organize chaos by eliminating things that don’t spark joy in our work, we make a simplified, easy, and intuitive user journey that keeps users coming back. The Konmari method helps streamline our workflow as designers, just as it’s been helping my move - it keeps us focused by cutting off the designs and interactions that don’t spark joy to us. By focusing and concentrating on the most desirable outcomes, we can logically cut off ourselves from getting over obsessed with a single design or interaction and move forwards with only the things that spark joy.
As I begin to get ready to pack and move my belongings, I’m mindful of what I might bring to this space, and I’m holding an image of what sparks joy to me most close to my heart. I think I know now what I can do to make my space mine.