The UX of a banana

I have referred to the UX of a banana reasonably often on Twitter.

But I think I have not said enough, in context.

I have a very special admiration for the whole of the banana species given how extraordinarily it puts itself at the service of the human species. Rather, that’s our way of looking at its utility value. If the banana, as a species, were to start communicating, they may have a very different take on that 🙂

Anyway, the entirety of that plant is useful. You can eat the fruit, cook the raw fruit, stem and flower (both delicacies in Tamil-style cooking; I’m sure it is in certain other states too). You can eat on the leaf. They grow in places where there’s stagnant water, so at home, we usually plant them where the wastewater accumulates. The peel makes for excellent animal food too.

But, let’s get to the UX part.

UX is ‘user experience’. While it is usually used in human-computer interactions, the banana serves as a great primer to understand the underlying concept!

Take the UI part of it – user interaction.

1/ You do not need any external tools to consume a banana – you simply peel it off and start eating. Peeling off is so very easy too! I also recently learned that if you want to avoid the peel’s strands that stick to the fruit inside, you peel from the opposite end! That is, instead of peeling off from the top-end, turn the banana around and start peeling off from the bottom end! The peel is eco-friendly as it is being disposed of! (but dangerous to humans given it is slippery)

2/ You do not need to wash the fruit (unlike many other fruits). The peel safeguards what is inside.

3/ You do not need to wash your hands before consuming the banana. You touch only the peel and do not need to touch the actual fruit inside.

On the UX part:

4/ When should you consume the banana? At what state/stage? The color of the peel tells you that! Here’s a wonderfully useful color-chart.

I love the ‘barely ripe’ state and it is so easy to figure out what state it is in without peeling it off and wasting the fruit.

5/ There are no cumbersome seeds inside the banana. You simply peel off the skin and start eating without worrying about anything. If there’s something wrong on the inside, the peel showcases it with dark/black indentations!

6/ You also peel as you go. You do not need to peel the whole thing in one go – you peel some of the skin off, take a bite, peel some more and take another bite and so on. It’s no wonder that the very same UX idea has been used in the food industry, for instance, in restaurants like McDonald’s when they serve a wrap. Or, how we are served rolls, covered in paper. Or, the Cornetto ice cream!

7/ Banana is highly mobile, though you cannot overdo that mobility since they are squishy. But this is applicable to most fruit so you can’t isolate the banana for criticism.

8/ About the taste? I’m sure there are far sweeter and tastier fruits than the banana, but the banana’s taste/sweetness isn’t bad at all by any stretch of the imagination! It is tasty, no doubt about it. The only thing going against it is overt familiarity – it is so easily available and affordable that the excessive familiarity makes it seem generic and boring. And some of the other fruits that we spend more time, effort and money acquiring get more marks in our perception because of the time, effort and money!

9/ And finally, the nutrition. Bananas are very low on calorie, high on fiber, antioxidants, Vitamin C, Vitamin B-6 and potassium. There’s a lot more to the nutritional aspects of banana that you can find from a simple Google search.

Combining both, consider how wonderfully packaged the banana is, as a fruit, in terms of the way we interact with it and the way we consume it. Seen from the humans’ point of view, bananas have one of the best UX and UI in nature, and the simplest way to explain UX and UI as concepts!