Pleasure With Products
eBook - ePub

Pleasure With Products

Beyond Usability

William S. Green, Patrick W. Jordan, William S. Green, Patrick W. Jordan

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  1. 390 pages
  2. English
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eBook - ePub

Pleasure With Products

Beyond Usability

William S. Green, Patrick W. Jordan, William S. Green, Patrick W. Jordan

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About This Book

The last five years have seen a major paradigm shift in the role of human factors in product design. Previously this was seen as pertaining almost exclusively to product usability, but new recognition is being given to "pleasure-based" human factors. This emphasizes the holistic nature of the experience of person-product interaction. While traditio

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Section 1

Beyond Usability

CHAPTER ONE
Beauty in Usability: Forget about Ease of Use!

KEES OVERBEEKE, TOM DJADJADININGRAT, CAROLINE HUMMELS and STEPHAN WENSVEEN
Delft University of Technology, Department of Industrial Design,Jaffalaan 9, 2628 BX Delft, The Netherlands

1.1
INTRODUCTION


Despite years of usability research, electronic products do not seem to get any easier to use. The design of electronic products appears to be in a dead-end street. It is time to experiment with fresh approaches. In this paper we offer a new approach based on respect for the user. We all have senses and a body with which we can respond to what our environment affords (Gibson 1979). Why then does interaction design not use these bodily skills more often and make electronic interaction more tangible? And, as humans are emotional beings, why not make interaction a more fun and beautiful experience? This paper focuses on those neglected aspects of human-product interaction: perceptualmotor and emotional skills.
First we give the new background against which the designer operates. Then we give a number of examples from our own and our students’ research work. As we go along we make clear why this new approach calls for new methods and what these methods are. The point we wish to make is that to get to new innovative products, the interaction problem should be dealt with on the level of creating a context for experience allowing for rich aesthetics of interaction.

1.2
RESPECT

The shop assistant threw the biscuit at my feet. I bent down and subserviently began topick up the crumbs. After some fiddling, I managed to get my change out of his clenchedfist.
Just imagine you were treated like this in a shop. No doubt you would be most offended. But this is, in fact, the way in which a vending machine treats us when we buy something from it. Somehow we have come to accept a standard of respect in human-machine interaction which is very different from that in human-human interaction.
We believe that respect for man as a whole should be the starting-point for design. For the sake of analysis, man’s skills, which are used when interacting with products, may be considered on three levels, the wholly trinity of interaction: cognitive skills, perceptual-motor skills and emotional skills. In other words: knowing, doing and feeling.
Research on human-product interaction, however, has shifted to cognitive skills. This emphasis on the cognitive is easily understood, as there is no electronic counterpart for the mechanical world-view that still dominates Western thinking. We understand the world of moving machines since, to a certain extent, we consider our bodies to be mechanical machines. Take da Vinci as an example. His world of cogwheels and crossbars lends itself to easy experimentation and imaginative play while designing. Even a non-technical person can ‘feel’ the strength of such designs, even when they don’t fully understand the workings. The electronic world is more opaque to us. What happens inside electronic products is intangible: it neither fits the mechanics of our body nor the mechanical view of the world. In contrast with mechanical components, electronic components do not impose specific forms or interactions for a design. Products have become ‘intelligent’, and intelligence has no form. Design research, quite naturally, turned to the intelligent part of humans. This primacy of rationality is often chosen because it leads to solutions that can be easily implemented into, or simulated on, computers. Interaction design typically starts from what is technically possible and follows the framework of the established sciences. The interaction problem is divided into elements and the relations between these elements, and is often captured in a flow chart. Ease of use is aimed for through rational analysis: the rational is assumed to lead toease of use. Usability is aimed for through logical dialogue using speech recognition, through grouping and colour coding of buttons with related functions, through adding displays with an abundance of text and icons, and through writing logically structured manuals.
This is a very valuable route to follow, but we think it is not the only one that designers should explore.

1.3
THE EXPERIENTIAL


We think it is necessary to include the other two levels of human-product interaction into the picture: perceptual-motor skills and emotional skills.
Perceptual-motor skills, i.e. what people can perceive with their senses and what they can do with their body, require physical interaction, i.e. handling objects instead of icons on a screen. This choice for tangibility nicely fits the newest trends in the human-computer interaction (HCI) community (Cohen et al. 1999).
Emphasis on emotional skills is growing too. The Media Lab at MIT is making a study of ‘affective computing’ (Picard 1997). Damasio’s book (Damasio 1994) has shown that pure logic alone, without emotional value, leaves a person, or a machine for that matter, indecisive. Our department organised the First International Conference on Design and Emotion last year (Overbeeke and Hekkert 1999). And emotion has entered the stage not only in academic circles but also in industry. In our faculty, Mitsubishi is funding the ‘Designing Emotion’ project in which an instrument is developed to measure people’s emotional reactions to cars (Desmet, Hekkert and Jacobs 1999).
Where then can the interaction designer seek advice to achieve the integration of the impossible: accelerating technological innovations, human perceptual-motor, cognitive and emotional skills and electronic aesthetics? We think that essentially this problem can be solved by turning to the user’s experience, fully respecting all his skills. The designer needs to create a context for experience, rather than just a product. He offers the user a context in which they may enjoy a film, dinner, cleaning, playing, working…with all their senses. It is his task to make the product’s function accessible to the user whilst allowing for interaction with the product in a beautiful way. Aesthetics of interaction is his goal. The user should experience the access to the product’s function as aesthetically pleasing. A prerequisite for this is that the user should, at the very least, not be frustrated. However, we are not promoting ‘ease of use’ as a design goal. Interfaces should be surprising, seductive, smart, rewarding, tempting, even moody, and thereby exhilarating to use. The interaction with the product should contribute to the overall pleasure found in the function of the product itself. The experiential is assumed to lead to joy of use.
The following example should clarify what we mean. Suppose the user wants to watch a movie for his enjoyment. He has to programme his VCR in order to get it working at a later date. VCR manufacturers certainly give the impression of having done everything in their power to make the user as frustrated as possible. Why not make a machine that is a joy to use? We are not saying that ‘technical’ design with a large number of functions and buttons should be avoided; some people actually like it that way. We call for diversity in product design. Not all VCRs should look the same. Why is there such an experiential diversity in car design and not in VCR design?
To build this stage of emotionally rich interactions; the designer needs new methods to sound out the experiential world of the user. Interaction relabelling and designing for extreme characters are new methods that are illustrated below.
Once the designer gets a feel for the experiential world of the user, he needs to focus on designing the interaction. He needs to stay tuned to the experiential. The following focus supports will also be illustrated in the examples (Djadjadiningrat, Gaver and Frens 2000):

1.
Don’t think affordances, think temptation.



Ergonomics, HCI and product design have borrowed the term ‘affordances’ from perception-psychology (Gibson 1979). Affordance is a very useful concept here, because it refers to the inextricability of both perception and action, and a person and his environment. It is about what people can do. Furthermore, it is essentially a non-cognitive and non-representational concept. However, many researchers concentrate on the structural aspects of affordances while neglecting the affective aspects. We lament this clinical interpretation of affordance. People are not invited to act only because a design fits their physical measurements. They can also be tempted to act through the expectation of beauty of interaction.

2.
Don’t think beauty in appearance, think beauty in interaction.


Usability is generally treated separately from aesthetics. Aesthetics in product design appears to be restricted to making products beautiful in appearance. As the ease of use strategies do not appear to pay off, this has left us in the curious situation that we have products which look good at first sight, but frustrate us as soon as we start interacting with them. Again, we think that the emphasis should shift from a beautiful appearance to beautiful interaction, of which beautiful appearance is a part. Dunne (1999) talks of ‘an aesthetics of use’: an aesthetics which, through the interactivity made possible by computing, seeks a developing and more nuanced co-operation with the object—a co-operation which, it is hoped, will enhance social contact and everyday experience.

3.
Don’t think ease of use, think enjoyment of the experience.


Current efforts on improving usability focus on making things easier. However, there is more to usability than ease of use. A user may choose to work with a product despite it being difficult to use, because it is challenging, seductive, playful, surprising, memorable or rewarding, resulting in enjoyment of the experience. No musician learns to play the violin because it is easy. Bringing together ‘contexts for experience’ and ‘aesthetics of interaction’ means that we do not strive for making a function as easy to access as possible, but for making the unlocking of the functionality contribute to the overall experience.

1.4
EXAMPLES


The key question for design still remains however: how will these ‘experiential’ products differ from the ‘normal’ ones? We will give three examples from research and teaching projects.

Appointment manager


For his masters project Frens designed an appointment manager, a handheld electronic device which aids its user in managing appointments. In ranking the importance of an appointment, Frens’ appointment manager not only considers the factual aspects of an appointment, such as time and location, but also the feelings of its user towards an appointment, or towards the person the appointment is with. Frens’ approach to the appointment manager acknowledges that emotions are an important consideration in managing our daily lives, often neglected in purely cognitive approaches.
In his project, Frens used two new methods to explore aesthetics, interaction and role (Djadjadiningrat, Gaver and Frens 2000). In the first method, interaction relabelling, designers ...

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