Sisyphean Counter


It’s funny to think about the things we don’t think about. We take good design for granted and only notice the bad because it requires more thought/effort/patience than we are willing to afford. Krug and Weinschenk take similar approaches in their analysis of UX thinking by first outlining human limitations and behaviors, and demonstrating approaches design can therefore take to make interactions/information efficient and accessible. After reading, I looked to my opened tabs and frequently visited websites including Facebook, Gmail, Youtube, The Times etc., where conventions, hierarchies, and grouping are present and clear. It didn’t take very long for me to forget I was observing (read: skimming) altogether and go about my business.


For this week’s project, we are tasked with designing a physical object that can sit on a desk that allows a user to count up or down (one object accomplishes both behaviors). The target audience is someone who wants to keep a numeric tally and have a physical reminder of their progress to display for themselves and others on their desk. The single object should allow the user to easily record single increments of change – either counting forward toward a target or backwards from it. Below are two personas related to the assignment:

Maria is a 30 year old PR Account Manger working at Havas. She finds her job boring and lives for her vacation. Some days she feels she cannot make it to 5pm without knowing that there is a vacation on the calendar. Maria is constantly tracking the number of days until her next vacation. She is looking for a fun way to motivate herself by tracking the number of days until her next vacation.

Marco is a Sales Rep for google. His job is stressful and he has developed a bad habit of drinking too much coffee. He is trying to cut back because he can’t sleep at night. This winter he is up to 4-5 cups a day. Jon loves coffee and doesn’t want to quit, he just wants to scale back from almost 30 cups a week  to a limit of 15 cups per week. marco is looking for a way to easily track his coffee consumption by counting the number of cups he drinks each week.


We’ve all had bouts of existential crisis at work doing the same mundane tasks again and again. I certainly have. My project idea draws inspiration from Camus’ interpretation of Sisyphus, which heralds him as an absurd hero. Although the gods punished Sisyphus to roll a boulder up and downhill for all of eternity, he is freed upon accepting the absurdity of his fate and chooses to be happy. I think this philosophy is a healthy one to keep in mind in the workplace.

I placed Sisyphus on an ellipse to emphasize eternal loop. The user can count up/down from 0-99, and the number is displayed through a magnifying glass fixed in the boulder. Should the user choose to count up, they can subject our hero to rolling the boulder uphill by turning the wheel clockwise. To count down, they are able to visualize the boulder rolling downhill by turning the wheel counter-clockwise.

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