What you see isn’t always what you get... but in a totally awesome way. In a world chock-full of truly awful design decisions, it’s refreshing to see things made by people who are thoughtful, imaginative, and who put the user first. And sometimes, they completely stun with the hidden, unexpected features they add to their products. So much so that people can’t help but share a photo of it online.

Our design-loving team here at Bored Panda has collected some of the best examples of products that have impressive surprises, tiny little features, and hidden humor that are as close to magic as us muggles can get. We hope that you’ll enjoy these and that they’ll inspire you to look at the creative process with even more innovation than usual.

Once you’ve upvoted your favorite pics, be sure to let us and all the other Pandas know which of these product ideas you loved the most. We totally don’t want to sway you one way or the other, but some of our favors include the cappuccino cup with the delightful miniature ice-cream cone holder on the saucer, as well as the plantable seed tag, among many others. Read to have your imaginations expanded and to see generosity done right. Enjoy!

Bored Panda wanted to understand product design better, so we reached out to Matt Johnson, Ph.D. A professor of consumer psychology at Hult International Business School and Harvard University, as well as the author of 'Branding that Means Business,' and the host of the Neuroscience of Branding blog, Johnson shared his thoughts about user-friendly designs, the potential (and risk!) of unexpected features, as well as what wins out in the end—the power of the brand or the functionality of the product itself. Read on to find out what he told us.

#1

My Husband Ordered A Used Laptop And It Arrived Completely Packed In Little Paper Cranes

My Husband Ordered A Used Laptop And It Arrived Completely Packed In Little Paper Cranes

kamarsh79 Report

Chancey
Community Member
4 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I would totally freak out if I received this for packaging.

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According to Professor Johnson, from Hult International Business School and Harvard University, there are two main questions that we need to consider at the product level. First of all, we have to evaluate how well it serves the functional need of the customer. And, secondly, we have to ask how well (if at all!) it provides an emotional connection, such as comfort or humor. He told Bored Panda that the functionality of a product is of primary concern.

"If the product doesn’t actually solve a problem for the consumer, or make their life easier, it will either create frustration or will be ignored completely. And if this is the case, there will be no opportunity to develop a deeper, emotional connection," he explained.

"The best plan of attack for product functionality is copious amounts of market research—not just asking how the product would be used in principle, but how they are used in practice, and how they would fit into the consumer’s life. One approach here is to perform ethnographies of the consumer demographic in question, to understand the role of the product within their lives," the professor said that the people behind the design process ought to research consumer behavior, wants, and needs.

#2

This Painting I Bought At The Zoo Came With A Picture Of The Meerkat Family Who Painted It

This Painting I Bought At The Zoo Came With A Picture Of The Meerkat Family Who Painted It

PreoccupiedDuck Report

#3

The Box That My Grill Came In Can Be Inverted To Make A Playhouse For A Toddler

The Box That My Grill Came In Can Be Inverted To Make A Playhouse For A Toddler

SexyOctagon Report

However, even after the product is launched, the job isn't done. "Even with extensive research, it’s very rare that the product is perfect the first time from a user-friendly standpoint. For this reason, it's crucial that the company continues to collect data from users on how it’s being used, and what can be improved. And then with this data, to continuously adapt and iterate the product. It’s at this stage that the company can understand the emotional impact of the product and make adjustments accordingly," Professor Johnson said that companies have to follow up after the launch and create better versions of their initial idea. Data-driven adaptation and flexibility lead to better results (and potentially happier, more loyal customers).

In the expert's opinion, "there is strong potential" for various add-ons to "enhance the consumer experience and to engender brand loyalty." Provided that the product itself works well. However, the professor warned that the strategy of adding additional features should be considered high-risk, high-yield. Success isn't guaranteed.

"It is much easier for these additional features to fail than to succeed. There’s a major risk that it detracts from the overall functionality of the product, or that the consumer simply doesn’t get the intended humor. There’s also a risk that the consumer, even if they get the humor, doesn’t appreciate the context in which it appears, or that the feature brings down the perceived prestige of the product," Professor Johnson explained what some of the potential pitfalls might look like.

#4

My Dogs Tore Apart A Cactus Toy, To Reveal Another, Sad Cactus Toy

My Dogs Tore Apart A Cactus Toy, To Reveal Another, Sad Cactus Toy

SilverTigerstripes Report

#5

My Cappuccino Came With A Tiny Ice Cream

My Cappuccino Came With A Tiny Ice Cream

SwissJAmes Report

#6

The Book My SO Purchased Came With A Bookmark That Listed The Character’s Names And Their Roles

The Book My SO Purchased Came With A Bookmark That Listed The Character’s Names And Their Roles

koshkapianino Report

Jul Chv
Community Member
4 months ago (edited) Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Tbh. I read that book. The character are quite important, there are about 10 of them and the little symbol is an indication of which one is the narrator as they share the narrative point. And they can be a bit tricky to tell apart.The same list is on the 1st page so that you don´t get lost.

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"Overall, while these add-ons can, in principle, take the product above and beyond, it underlines the importance of product fundamentals," he said, reiterating that it's a risky strategy. There's lots of potential to reach great heights as well as very low lows.

We were also curious about what's more important: how a product is branded and marketed or its functionality and how user-friendly it is. Professor Johnson, from Hult International Business School and Harvard University, shed some light on the question.

"The brand can play a massive role in consumer decision-making. Generally speaking, the brand plays more of a role when there is less obvious, objective utility in the product. A purse from a luxury brand, for example, will carry one’s personal belongings and any simple tote bag, but the luxury purse will drive purchasing behavior to a much higher degree," he told Bored Panda.

#7

My Hair Dye Came With Little Gloves To Cover My Glasses

My Hair Dye Came With Little Gloves To Cover My Glasses

ohkatiep Report

#8

My Toilet Paper Came With A To-Go Roll In The Middle

My Toilet Paper Came With A To-Go Roll In The Middle

JDub91 Report

#9

First CD I Bought In 15 Years. Came With A Cardboard Gramophone. It Works

First CD I Bought In 15 Years. Came With A Cardboard Gramophone. It Works

GhostalMedia Report

"In contrast, simple functional products like scissors or cooking utensils provide a more tangible utility to the consumer. And while the brand will still make a difference in terms of a consumer’s confidence in the product, it will have a relatively smaller impact on the consumer decision-making process," he explained how there's a difference depending on the type of product we're talking about.

"It's also worth noting that these interact in deep ways: A strong brand makes consumers feel more at ease with a product, which increases its user-friendliness," the professor said.

Professor Johnson said that "the brand is a powerful cue that can drive the functional value of the product," referring to a 2016 study conducted by Garvey, Germann, and Bolton, 'Performance brand placebos: How brands improve performance and consumers take the credit.'

"Consumers were given two sets of physically identical golf clubs. In one group, they told them they were Nike golf clubs. That group drove the ball significantly further—despite the clubs being exactly the same as the other group."

#10

My Shirt Has A Microfiber Sewn On The Inside To Clean Glasses

My Shirt Has A Microfiber Sewn On The Inside To Clean Glasses

benjaminrodtx Report

#11

My Bra Came With An Info Tag On Checking Yourself For Breast Cancer

My Bra Came With An Info Tag On Checking Yourself For Breast Cancer

BaconOfTroy Report

Mark Berry
Community Member
4 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Surprise! There's 11 nipples on this tag and BP didn't censor one of them!

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#12

This Message Stamped On The Squeaker Inside The Stuffed Animal My Dog Just Destroyed

This Message Stamped On The Squeaker Inside The Stuffed Animal My Dog Just Destroyed

chakalakasp Report

It’s absolutely brilliant when a designer knows what the consumer needs even when the latter might not even realize it. I mean, after learning that there are spatulas out there with tiny little stands out there to prevent the head from touching the counter, can we really go back to pretending stuff like that doesn’t exist? Can we truly eat jerky now without expecting a flossing tool to be added, completely gratis?

Once you’ve seen how good life can get, how awesome some items can be, it’s awfully hard to go back to the clunky way things used to be. We want to live in a world where everything is at least as user-friendly as the stuff on this list.

At the core of good product design lies the desire to solve problems. Aesthetics are important, sure, but they pale in comparison to a thing’s functionality. Ergonomic, user-centric designs are what truly help separate companies from their competitors. If you can do it better than anyone else, how long can everyone else compete with you without copying what you do?

Let’s also not ignore the fact that we love tiny, unexpected gifts. Finding some dice in a wine bottle cork, uncovering a second toy hidden in your dog’s chew toy—these are the things that really get us smiling. Add in a dash of humor (like finding a cheeky sloth on your drink label), and you’ve got us hooked. Entertaining and rewarding the customer without expecting anything else in return is how you make the world a slightly better place. It’s generosity in a place you’d probably least expect to find it.

#13

My Spatula Has A Little Stand So It Doesn’t Touch The Counter

My Spatula Has A Little Stand So It Doesn’t Touch The Counter

dgroove8 Report

#14

Diploma Came With A Wallet-Sized Version

Diploma Came With A Wallet-Sized Version

BearLifts93 Report

#15

This Hot Water Heater Has A Pie Warmer

This Hot Water Heater Has A Pie Warmer

Hustler_Kamikaze Report

Sergy Yeltsen
Community Member
4 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

This thing looks older than me. And I'm old enough to remember watching Sesame Street in B&W.

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A while back, Bored Panda spoke to pie artist Jessica Leigh Clark-Bojin about creativity, design, and balancing the needs of the customer with the needs of the creator.

"I have a loose 'three for them, one for me' policy when it comes to my art. Riding emerging trends and tapping into the cultural zeitgeist certainly helps when you are trying to build a following,” she explained that creatives have to pay attention to what people respond to the most, even if they’d love to make only what they want all the time.

"But sometimes I’ll get the urge to create something obscure that I know no corporate partner will care for, and only a tiny portion of the population will appreciate, but will make me happy. So if I’ve got the energy, I’ll go for it. And not shockingly, it is a lot easier to find the energy for these types of works!” she said that sometimes people respond very well to these sorts of passion projects.

#16

Amazon Purchase Came With A Personal Note And Some Russian Coins

Amazon Purchase Came With A Personal Note And Some Russian Coins

N000ICE Report

#17

The Inside Of The Pizza Box Was A Tuxedo

The Inside Of The Pizza Box Was A Tuxedo

pwenski Report

#18

My Backpack's Front Buckle Has A Built In Whistle

My Backpack's Front Buckle Has A Built In Whistle

skabanos Report

Tristan Gragg
Community Member
4 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I've seen these on almost every hiking backpack at outdoor stores. In fact, I have a backpack with one of these on it on the chest strap! Handy little thing and decently loud in case you get lost.

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If you ever run into a creative roadblock or feel burnt out, don’t panic. Jessica told us that there’s so much creative inspiration to be found out there in the world.

“All I have to do is look at craftspeople at the top of their game in a couple of different areas—watchmakers, architects, gardeners, painters, poets, etc.—and my mind is filled to the top with new ideas again," she said.

#19

Microwave Came With Optional Braille Cover

Microwave Came With Optional Braille Cover

-TUX- Report

#20

The Wine I Ordered Online Came With A Tiny Set Of Dice Packaged Inside A Hollow Cork

The Wine I Ordered Online Came With A Tiny Set Of Dice Packaged Inside A Hollow Cork

Calliope719 Report

#21

The Logo On My Umbrella Only Shows Up When Wet

The Logo On My Umbrella Only Shows Up When Wet

jaegee0000 Report

"The biggest challenge to my work is not the 'creativity tank,' it’s the 'energy/motivation' tank. Professional artists who have to balance commercial realities against artistic passions I think all have to deal with finding ways to keep that 'motivation tank' topped up. It’s not always easy! But I find that being around other creative working professionals and talking with them about it helps a lot."

#22

My New Dress Came With A Napkin, Apparently

My New Dress Came With A Napkin, Apparently

ENFJPLinguaphile Report

#23

I Bought A Pack Of Cigarettes And They Came With A Postage-Paid Recycling Pouch

I Bought A Pack Of Cigarettes And They Came With A Postage-Paid Recycling Pouch

p4d4 Report

Sergy Yeltsen
Community Member
4 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Okay, we all know smoking is horrible, etc etc, but this is a good idea. There are few things worse than seeing cigarette butts all over the place, especially outside of areas where smokers hang out. I wouldn't care so much about their habit if they were tidy about it, instead of too lazy to walk to a bin or rubbish receptacle within a couple of metres.

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#24

This Nutmeg I Bought In France Comes With Its Own Tiny Grater

This Nutmeg I Bought In France Comes With Its Own Tiny Grater

ginger_mayne Report

One way to approach design is to fully sketch out the idea in advance. That’s what Jessica does to avoid potential pitfalls and navigate around problems. She also visualizes each and every step of the creative process in order to spot any important steps she might have missed. That way, when she actually gets down to work, everything goes as smooth as butter.

#25

My Bottle Of Canadian Whisky Came With Free Public Transportation

My Bottle Of Canadian Whisky Came With Free Public Transportation

Holmes870 Report

#26

These Winter Boots Have A Flip-Down Ice Cleat In The Heel To Help With Walking On Icy Surfaces

These Winter Boots Have A Flip-Down Ice Cleat In The Heel To Help With Walking On Icy Surfaces

TheRealJasonium Report

See Also on Bored Panda
#27

Got A New Travel Wallet And I Found This In The Back Of The Notebook That Came With It

Got A New Travel Wallet And I Found This In The Back Of The Notebook That Came With It

Thewildfalcon Report

PinkPanda
Community Member
4 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

A lot of these are hilarious, but I think my fav has to be: Let’s hit the sauna…(followed by) …. I like pickled meat ..coincidence?! I think not 🤣🤔

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However, mistakes do happen. For instance, if you’re working with unfamiliar tools, materials, or techniques. Jessica told Bored Panda that these are instances where creatives may need to solve problems on the fly. However, solving these issues on the go can help innovate and discover new, effective approaches to design. In short, they’re ‘happy accidents.’

#28

This Yogurt Lid Can Be Folded Into A Little Spoon

This Yogurt Lid Can Be Folded Into A Little Spoon

OnTheMidnightTrain Report

glowworm2
Community Member
4 months ago (edited) Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Yes! Brilliant! Reminds me of a yogurt brand years ago that had a little plastic spoon imbedded inside the lid. You basically punched it out to use it.

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#29

My Spoon Carving Kit Came With Band-Aids

My Spoon Carving Kit Came With Band-Aids

theacropanda Report

#30

My Raincoat Reveals A Floral Pattern When Wet

My Raincoat Reveals A Floral Pattern When Wet

trashyfictions Report

Kim Kermes
Community Member
4 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Now they invent this. After I've moved to the Mojave Desert.

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#31

Multi-Tool Belt

Multi-Tool Belt

Arsenic75-Q Report

Emperor Kitten
Community Member
4 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

"Loose screw? Let me get that for you..." *takes off pants*

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#32

My New Frying Pan Came With A Plantable Seed Tag

My New Frying Pan Came With A Plantable Seed Tag

coogiwaves Report

Down With Agent Hedgehog!
Community Member
4 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Yeah it works, and I’ve planted a bunch of these before with mint. Now I can’t get rid of all the mint festooning my yard (to the joy of my tortoise, who loves sitting in it)

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#33

My Bracelet Came With A Paper Clip To Help Fasten The Clasp

My Bracelet Came With A Paper Clip To Help Fasten The Clasp

nomoredolls Report

stardust
Community Member
4 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

And here I am, using my teeth like an effing animal

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#34

This Baby Pickle Jar Came With A Tiny Elevator For Them

This Baby Pickle Jar Came With A Tiny Elevator For Them

unthused Report

#35

My New Set Of Sheets Came With A Handy Little Pocket

My New Set Of Sheets Came With A Handy Little Pocket

ThePlayfulPython Report

#36

My New Jeep Came With A Sasquatch On The Window

My New Jeep Came With A Sasquatch On The Window

AdrianTheGreat24 Report

See Also on Bored Panda
#37

I Bought A Tie Today And It Came With A Matching Face Mask

I Bought A Tie Today And It Came With A Matching Face Mask

Soviet_Broski Report

#38

My New Wok Has Circles For Measuring Oil

My New Wok Has Circles For Measuring Oil

emilyr3183 Report

#39

This Packet Of Sponges Came With A Free Hedgehog

This Packet Of Sponges Came With A Free Hedgehog

Changmeister888 Report

#40

My Coaster Came With A Built In Activity

My Coaster Came With A Built In Activity

Steph_WaHoo Report

#41

These Chairs In A Ski Resort Restaurant Have Room For Your Gloves, Helmet, Hat Etc

These Chairs In A Ski Resort Restaurant Have Room For Your Gloves, Helmet, Hat Etc

kazarnowicz Report

#43

My Newspaper Came With 2 Printed Pattern Pages To Wrap Presents

My Newspaper Came With 2 Printed Pattern Pages To Wrap Presents

PlanetGG Report

GoldfishCrackers
Community Member
4 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

And with patterns/colors that look way more classic and nostalgic than much of the pricy paper people make and buy these days.

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#44

Nail Polish Bottle Has A Swatch Of The Color Attached To The Bottle So You Can See How The Color Looks On You

Nail Polish Bottle Has A Swatch Of The Color Attached To The Bottle So You Can See How The Color Looks On You

Pastel_Bishop Report

#45

My New Fridge Came With An Explication Of Sounds

My New Fridge Came With An Explication Of Sounds

Aussie_bro Report

juice
Community Member
4 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

this is great, especially for worriers like me!

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#46

My Gardening Tool Kit Came With A Claw Glove

My Gardening Tool Kit Came With A Claw Glove

Shrimpio Report

See Also on Bored Panda
#47

My Gas Bill Came With A Scratch 'N Sniff

My Gas Bill Came With A Scratch 'N Sniff

LadyJane17 Report

Alice Teasdale
Community Member
4 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Well that's easy given it's odourless. The odourant is added for safety. Worth letting people know what that smells like.

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#48

My Dog Treats Came With A Clip So You Can Attach One To Your Phone And Take A Selfie With Your Dog

My Dog Treats Came With A Clip So You Can Attach One To Your Phone And Take A Selfie With Your Dog

bjexSALT Report

#49

This Pan Has A Thermochromic Indicator To Show If It Is Hot

This Pan Has A Thermochromic Indicator To Show If It Is Hot

RealNajm Report

#50

These Japanese Umbrellas Only Have Patterns When Wet

These Japanese Umbrellas Only Have Patterns When Wet

rainer511 Report

Note: this post originally had 105 images. It’s been shortened to the top 50 images based on user votes.