Journal Entry 5 “Pill Bottle Cap Designs”

Date: Nov. 6, 2008

Time: 4:47 am

While reading “The Design of Everyday Things” (by Donald Norman), I came across the notion of poorly designed devices which can be frustrating to use, aka “failure of design interactivity”. Unfortunately, we see poor designs everywhere. For example, I have always been frustrated with pill bottles. For safety reasons, drug companies have invented many pill bottles that are difficult to open. After unsealing the bottle, the consumer encounters “child-proof” caps that make them difficult to open. Some require clamping or pushing down on the cap while twisting/rotating the cap; others require simultaneous side pushing and up lifting, and some require only rotating or popping caps off, etc.



The purpose of pill bottles is to save and dispense pills that drug users need to take, and cap designs tremendously affect how they dispense those pills. These “safety caps” make opening pill bottles especially difficult for older people and people with disabilities, ironically the very same people who need to take the largest amount of pills due to their health conditions. Many older people have weaker fingers or hands, and some disabled people only have one functional hand. This further adds to the difficulty of opening pill bottles.


Target invented pill bottles with easier-to-read labels and plastic rings that can be color-coded for each family member

Pill bottle designs must be usable and functional for different groups. The design must be easy, safe to use and have clear and visible instructions. Visibility of cap designs is the most important aspect in pill bottles; people need to know how to interact with the design instantly and with ease (i.e. it must be consistent with their “conceptual model” of the product). First, designers must consider the psychology of how people interact with pill bottles, as well as their age groups, health conditions and the types and amounts of drugs they use. In addition to opening the bottle cap, the cap must also be replaced easily and intuitively.


“Jaromatic Opener” is an example of a pill bottle holder for people with disabilities; this design simply involves placing the medicine bottle or jar in the device and pressing a button. The device can be used either on a countertop or can be mounted on a wall. However, this device is somewhat pricy, it costs twenty-nine dollars and ninety five cents, it does not allow the user to place the cap back on the medicine bottle, and will not accommodate all varieties of medicine bottles.


Jaromatic Opener

Many pill bottle designs have been considered lately, but many lack the value that the user would appreciate. In sum, designers must take into account the purpose/ affordance of the design, constraints, usability/ functionality, visibility, psychology of interaction, target users “age and health condition”, kind and amount of drugs and finally cost.


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