Monday, August 10, 2009

3 Aspects of UX

I've been doing a lot of thinking about different kinds of design. Game design, music, movie direction, woodworking, anything where there's a user experience. I've also been reading Emotional Design, by Don Norman. In the book he goes over three aspects of design, visceral, behavioral, and reflective.

The ability for something to grab you on a superficial emotional level. Not to make it sound trivial. Pounding drums, slick ui animations, glorious vistas, the taste of chocolate, the softness of toilet tissue. These all have an immediate emotional impact.

Brings the user closer to the experience. Films will shoot characters over the shoulder to make viewers feel closer to them. A strong behavioral aspect will make tools easier to use, music easier to get into, people easier to communicate with, toilet paper easier to tear, and make chocolate melt in your mouth, not in your hand. Basically, when the behavioral aspect is well crafted the user spends more time doing and experiencing and less time disoriented, or confused.

What the user thinks about the experience. This is what'll make them tell their friends. This can include open ended plots that require interpretation, the pride of owning something cool or antique, the strategy of chess, saying you're a Mac user, nostalgia.

The visceral aspect of your product is what will sell it right off the bat. There are plenty of great movies that lack the visceral aspect in their marketing which is why they wont do as well as the Transformers movie which has strong Reflective (Known brand and nostalgia factor) and visceral (action, graphics, etc) aspects.

Sometimes you can fake out the other aspects through good use of one of them. You may think a movie is deep cause it instills feelings of awe or melancholy, e.g. American Beauty, but upon further thought it doesn't really stand up. You may think that your tax software is easy to use because of the money it's saving you. Sounds dumb but it works.

Many products get by without carefully considering all these aspects, but if you do you may find your competitors failing to keep up.