Getting Salty About User Experience

So I recently had to pick out a container of Morton’s iodized salt at an American grocery store (the brand doesn’t seem particularly well represented in Europe, although I can’t say that they aren’t there at all). This was all well and good, until I saw the iodized and uniodized salts next to each other.

The iodized salt looks like this:

iodized_salt.jpg

Image description: Morton salt cannister, with text “this salt supplies iodide, a necessary nutrient”

Whereas the uniodized salt looks like this:

uniodized_salt

Image description: Morton salt cannister, with text “this salt does not supply iodide, a necessary nutrient”

See the problem?

The containers are pretty much identical, except for the line of small text near the bottom of the cannister saying whether the salt is iodized or not. Furthermore, the most significant piece of information — the word “supplies” or the phrase “does not supply” — is embedded in the middle of a fairly long sentence, where it’s hard to see without reading at least the first few words of the label. This is likely the reason why my mother ended up with a cannister of uniodized salt in the first place.

There are a number of very simple changes that Morton could make to their salt labels to make it clearer whether the salt supplies iodide or not. One would be to change the color of the text, or of a border around it (perhaps to green for iodized salt — generally the healthier option — and red for uniodized); another would be to put a check mark next to the label on iodized salt and an X on uniodized salt. A third might be to change the background color of the cannister (or the color of the white end pieces) to something very different for uniodized salt.

Ideally, a combination of the strategies I suggest, plus any others that the marketing and/or branding folks at Morton Salt come up with, would be used, since each strategy comes with its own set of drawbacks (color-coding breaks down for colorblind people, check marks and X’s are still easy to confuse when moving quickly, etc.). I would probably go with something like the following (I unfortunately lack the photo-editing skills to attach the label mock-ups to a picture of a Morton salt cannister):

proposed

Image description: green text with checkmark and border, saying “contains iodide, a vital nutrient”, followed by red text with letter X and border, saying “lacks iodide, a vital nutrient”

It would probably also be fine to use only the “lacks iodide” version, on the variety sold without iodide, and let the iodized salt be the default.

 

Endnote:

My family still buys Morton salt, and I would still buy Morton salt if I lived in a place where it were sold. This isn’t meant as an indictment of the company, or of their product; only a breakdown of what I feel is a bad UX practice.

One thought on “Getting Salty About User Experience”

  1. I’ve made this exact same mistake in my quest for Iodized salt. But I did blame myself., partially because it does say *Iodized* in big yellow letters on the name after all.
    I personally felt…salty about both canisters being stacked together in most supermarkets, making it easier to look at one, but accidentally reach for the other.

    Like

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