Turning chaos into serenity.
As a photographer, I have a lot of gear for a variety of different purposes. From SD cards to lens filters, it quickly becomes difficult keeping everything organized. Up until now, my solution for keeping everything “organized” has been one small box in which all of my gear, other than lenses, lives.
While this current solution technically works (everything is in one box after all), getting everything to fit just right is a pain, and it’s gotten to the point where it’s easier to leave things out and accessible than put them away. After much frustration, I decided that it was about time I fix the issue, and come up with a system that actually works. The fix to my problem lay in using a little bit of User Experience techniques, in order to find the right solution.
To get to the right solution, I first had to identify what wasn’t working with my current system, and lay out what the end result of an ideal system would contain.
Problems with Current Gear Storage
- Hard to get things quickly when they’re needed
- Frequently used items don’t end up getting put away
Qualities of An Ideal Solution
- Can get any piece of gear within 5 seconds
- Everything fits comfortably
- Easy access for both putting things away, and getting them out quickly
Next, I had to lay out the constraints. I didn’t have a lot of room to make all of this work, and I wasn’t looking to spend an exorbitant amount of money on a solution. So I measured the available space in my closet and set a budget of $50.
- 30 inch wide
- 24 inch tall
- 12 inch deep
Research and Ideation
Here was where the true User Experience fun came into play. In order for everything to be intuitively accessible and easy to find, everything’s place had to make sense. This meant that I had to develop some sort of relation between the different pieces of gear, and then map that relation to how they would sit inside of whatever solution I came up with.
Taking some tips from UX, I decided doing an open card sorting exercise with all of my gear would be the best solution. Laying out everything on the bed, I grouped things together based on what came to me as similar. Next, I labeled each of the groups. Now, with named groups for everything, and I could start scouring the internet for the right storage solution.
After some quick surfing, I came across a cubby styled shelf from Home Depot that would do the trick. With the perfect amount of cubbies, I had space for everything, and the size and cost fit the constraints I had put down previously. So I had Home Depot’s website text me where the shelf was at my nearest store, and I drove over to pick it up.
Sparing the boring details of putting everything together, I ended up setting up the shelf fairly quickly. In order to make things intuitive on where to find them, I organized the placement of each grouping from pre through post production going from left to right, and leaving the far right column for my drone, it’s replacement parts and spare pouches.
$30 later and with a little help from the User Experience gods, the quality of my photography life has greatly improved. Things are organized, and I can find anything I need within five seconds. Not a bad use of a Sunday afternoon.