DOET #1: Audio Cable


Last year I read Don Norman’s The Design of Everyday Things. Inspired by Steve Jobs’ biography, I recently began thinking and reflecting on the beauty around me. There is a lot of design coverage and discussion about well known and extraordinary things, such as a Retina Macbook Pro or a Lamborghini Aventador, but there is little towards better understanding the normal objects around us.

For the next 14 days, I will randomly choose an everyday household object and conduct a thorough analysis of its design in what I’m calling my Design Of Everyday Things, or DOET, project. My goal with this is to learn more about design through the careful scrutiny of products I would have otherwise overlooked. This is my refusal to take design for granted. Each analysis has three parts: first impression, usability, and overall analysis. I don’t consider this to be a review, but rather an exploration: there will be no numerical rating, purchasing recommendation, or a pro/con section.

That’s it for my introduction; I’ll now include it at the bottom of future DOETs. Let’s begin!

Today I examine an $8 4 ft. Mediabridge 3.5mm audio cable:

audio cable

[first impression]

I chose this over the multitude of Amazon’s alternatives because it evoked quality and a clean, modern design. Though it was on the expensive side, bad experiences with cheap audio cables in the past led me to pay a little extra in the hopes of getting a better product.

When I first got my hands on it, my expectations were adequately fulfilled. The build quality felt solid and actually better than what I assumed from the pictures. Its was designed to be refined and modern.


Featured on the product page is that its “New design accomodates iphone, itouch, smartphone and mp3 case”. The extended gold portion before the wider bulk of the head makes it different than many other cables I’ve used. For an iOS device user, this is fantastic. It will work on any iOS device, even when you have a case that makes it difficult to plug in.

[overall analysis]

This cable has sound, well-thought out design. If I had to identify its design language with a big-name brand, I’d choose Samsung: sleek, polished, dark gunmetal color, and modern. The heads are durable and won’t fray easily. It feels like a solid product, and is one of the most usable wires I own.

Let’s take it one step deeper. I chose to purchase the 4 foot version of this cable. Aside from it being a nice whole and even number, why did the designers choose 4 feet? My initial assumption was that this cable would be used for either two close-proximity devices you hold in your hands or to connect your device to the car auxiliary port. After all, that was my intention for purchasing it. Amazon’s customer reviews confirmed that this was the primary use case the cable was designed for. From 520+ 5 star reviews, it’s clear that this cable’s designers were spot on with the use case requirements and build quality customers sought. This cable has definitely earned my respect in a well-designed everyday object.