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Allow me to apologize in advance if this question is too far out for the UX site.

Here is a generic box for electronics:

generic box

As you can tell, this won't be winning any industrial design awards. However, it is similar to a box I have to work with, and I have to improve the perception it will give to an end user of the brand's quality, technological capability, and modernism (despite the ugly exterior, the capabilities within are powerful).

About the User: These boxes are going to be sitting on office workers' desks (or somewhere nearby). It isn't for consumers. It also isn't a box users 'interact' with at all except for a couple of LED lights that indicate that it's working.

The constraint: we cannot change the shell (this picture is the actual box we have to use), and we need to make each box look as good as possible with very little expenditure and very little assembly time.

Approaches we've thought of so far:

  • Add a brightly colored company logo
  • Add dark stickers, possibly subtly patterned, possibly over the gaps on top, to give a cleaner and more modern look.
  • Spray paint the whole thing with a rubberized coating then put a decal on top of that.

I don't know what the options are - we've thought of accent labels, background labels, and rubberized coatings. What other avenues are possible to improve the user's experience of a box like this without changing the shell itself?

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    I like the question but it doesn't belong here. – jazZRo Aug 24 '16 at 6:01
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    UX isnt about making things pretty – the other one Aug 24 '16 at 14:00
  • @theotherone I could've chosen my words more carefully. I'm not just interested in what makes it 'pretty' but what simple types of improvements might make it seem more modern and dependable to an end user. I would argue that good design makes a user infer other opinions about a brand, such as its quality, ethos, and so on. – sscirrus Aug 24 '16 at 17:21
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    @theotherone, not IN THEORY, or NECESSARILY. But your statement is quite a reach, otherwise companies spending billions of dollars in design might be wrong. Always remember you're working in an EXPERIENCE for the user, and it includes aesthetical values as well. If in doubt, ask Apple ;) – Devin Aug 25 '16 at 14:46
  • @sscirrus, it would be very helpful to know what is this for and the target audience, otherwise it's really difficult to provide an answer – Devin Aug 25 '16 at 17:03
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Yes, you can do more by using the technique of prototyping.

  1. Get a sheet of paper and a pen and start drawing different ideas of how the box would ideally look like. Try doing different styles (colorful, small logo, different logo position, etc.). Be creative and draw as much as you can. Here you can do a quick 15-20 designs and then pick 2-3 that seems to look like the most promising.

  2. Start building up a 2 or 3 tangible prototypes using plasticine or other plastic materials and then show it to your colleagues. They will give you feedback which they seem to like more and maybe how it could be improved.

  3. Improve the one that is most preferred by you and your colleagues.

Have in mind the purpose that this product will have. In what context it would be used. It would be very beneficial if you try to use that product in your daily life and see how it could be made better for the context of use.

Update:

Well then look at the Apple products if you want your product to look modern. Right now the mode is to use minimalistic style/design. Look at their products and try to use similar design. Of course don't fully copy them, just take ideas.

P.S. The rubber coating is a good idea if your device would be held in hand often. If not there is no point of doing it.

  • Thank you for your answer. For the purposes of this project, I do not have any ability to alter the hardware. I'm mostly interested in general strategies for how designers might make a box like this feel more attractive, modern, dependable, etc. for an end user. – sscirrus Aug 24 '16 at 17:18
  • Follow-up - I guess part of the question is that I don't know what options exist for improving a box like this. Of course, colors/logos etc are up to my team but are there labels, stickers, coatings, add-ons etc. that can help? – sscirrus Aug 24 '16 at 17:39
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    @Kristiyan, I gotta admit I love your answers, always smart and to the point :) – Devin Aug 24 '16 at 19:41
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    @KristiyanLukanov I appreciate your answer and edit but neither are quite what I'm asking - we know about prototyping methods and of course to look at popular consumer-grade products for inspiration, but the question is more specific: what kinds of techniques can we use (I gave the examples of stickers/labels/decals and rubber coatings) without changing the case itself to adapt the above box to make it look/feel better? – sscirrus Aug 25 '16 at 20:54
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Unless you have access to brushed steel, and wish to create a new box, made from it, with nice smooth bevels and a near-square shape with as few alterations from a cubic-box shape as possible, I am afraid your out of luck.

However, most products benefit from a pretty metallic sticker with the branding printed on top of it. Think about Intel and the stickers they use to promote themselves on the fronts of PCs everywhere. That metallic sticker always made a PC I used look nicer IMO.

If you take the sticker route, please don't over due it. Just something small and simple is enough, I'd say something no larger than 1/3 the surface area of the top of the box and no smaller than 1/8 respectively!

Best of luck!

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