Design brings together aesthetics and the bottom line, experience and strategy, emotions, and data. Every consumer has a different emotional history toward a product and its brand, whether or not the product is familiar. Yet once the user begins to test a given product, he relates through a series of conscious or subconscious assessments. He examines the product’s utility and usability, its task efficiency, controllability, challenging features, ergonomic properties, etc. The product may meet the user’s usability assessment, but fail in its emotional appeal, a second layer of assessment based on five categories of relation: surprise, instrumental, aesthetic, social, and interest. Finally, once product acquisition and initial inspection have passed, the user moves to product attachment, that is, its emotional afterlife. Product attachment can also be perceived by imagined use of the product and what the user aspires to become by using the product. A substantial body of work has been performed around emotional usability and engagement. Research to date has hinged on three primary measurements – the use of facial expression, the use of metaphor, and the use of emotional terms. Laura Richardson, director of design research for M3, has developed a new perspective in examining users’ emotional responses. She has developed an “emotion engine” and an “emotion timeline” as part of her analysis.
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