The Usability Post
Thoughts on design and user experience
by Dmitry Fadeyev

Improving Highlighters

April 2011

I’ve just bought a box of new highlighters, and I noticed a nice design touch on the lid: the outermost edge is slanted, just like the felt tip of the highlighter itself.


By closing the lid in alignment with the felt tip I prepare the highlighter for quick usage because I can begin using it the right way by looking at the lid–or even just feeling it with my hand–rather than having to check the way the tip is slanted every time I open it.


I enjoyed the little touch but the designers could have gone further. The problem with this design is that the bottom edge of the lid is flat. This means that I can mount the slanted lid facing two directions, not just the one I want. If I put it on the wrong way it will not give me any indication of the slanting of the felt tip.

To solve this a forcing function should be used on the lid. For example, the closing edge of the lid can also be cut at a slanting angle which will ensure it can only be mounted in one configuration.


It’s a small thing, but when you’re using the highlighter and constantly opening and closing the lid, such small touches do end up making a difference.