Just the other day, I had to untangle my iPhone headphones because I can't wrap the cord to save my life. Later that night I was browsing Daring Fireball and found a link to Ten Reasons Why. The answer to all my problems was just to start throwing horns.
Turns out, the infamous symbol transcends heavy metal and rock-n-roll and is a great way to wrap your iPhone headphones without ever tangling them. A stunning discovery by any means. Check out the videos below and give it a go for yourself. Throw some horns and wrap some cords!
This little tidbit illustrates a unique ability that nearly all of us have: we get used to bad design. In the absense of good design, we have bad design, and when we have bad design, we improvise. iPhone and iPod headphones are a great example of how consumers are able to solve their own problems to work around bad design.
The problem with the headphones is that they easily tangle when wrapping them. Store a losely wrapped pair in your pocket for a day and you've got a serious problem on your hands. I've run into more times than I can count, so it's great to see that someone else has found solution.
The ability to solve problems, no matter the size or overall importance, is a skill every designer must have, especially in interaction design. Pulling inspiration from real world sitautions—even rock-n-roll—to solve problem is a common tactic that designers use.
Design isn't just how it looks, but how it works. Lest we beat around the bush, the iPhone headphones are just poorly designed. With a little inspiration, consumer ingenuity, and some heavy metal, anything is possible.