Challenge 8: My Design Perspective

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Sophie Kimball

My Design Sensibility

           Looking back at my “What I’ve Gots,”
I realize that I’m interested in products that have disrupted a previously
static market through innovative and intelligent design. I highlighted
BigBelly, for example, which has transformed waste management systems in a
number of cities and college campuses. This isn’t an area that one would
automatically associate with a need for fresh innovation, and yet the success
of BigBelly has demonstrated the inadequacy of the status quo. Outdoor Voices,
similarly, has successfully competed with two of the biggest names in athletic
wear – Nike and Lululemon – through its thoughtful use of fabrics and
intelligent branding.

           I’m equally struck by the design
insight required to create simple, practical products, such as the fire
sprinkler, the Philips Wake-Up Light, and Kleenex. Each of these products
serves human health, ultimately becoming so ubiquitous that it’s difficult to
imagine life without the utility they provide (the exception here being the Philips
Light, whose function is not quite as vital as those of the other products
mentioned.) This set of products demonstrates that often the simplest products
– ones that serve a singular and basic need – can become the most popular. The
implications of this finding for design are manifold, fundamentally
illustrating that a designer should start his/her design process with the
intention of serving a still-unmet human need.

           The product I’ve chosen to highlight
that follows Fogg’s behavioral model most closely is the NY Times Mini
Crossword. I am appropriately motivated to complete the puzzle every morning
because it wakes my brain up to the point of almost feeling productive. I have
the ability to complete it because it is, by design, short enough to be
finished in about thirty seconds. The triggers are that a new puzzle is posted
every night and that completing the puzzle feels like a reward in and of
itself.

           Consider Desmet and Hekker’s
framework of product experience, I was surprised to realize that I rarely
remark on the design of objects that have personal significance. I am most
drawn to the aesthetic dimension of products, a tendency illustrated by the
fact that only twice have I selected objects that I actually own. Because I
value aesthetics so highly, my emotions towards products are often fleeting and
ineffable. As Desmet and Hekker write, “these are all experiences restricted to
the here and now. Once the interaction comes to an end, the experience also
stops” (62).

           Functionality is such an important
lens through which I evaluate objects, and I was a bit confused by Desmet and
Hekker’s emphasis on affective experience as a result. They justify this
decision as follows: “Rather than a product experience itself, we consider
usability to be a source of product experience. In fact, usability can most
likely generate and influence all three levels of product experience” (63).
This analysis makes intuitive sense, but it is fundamentally easier to
appreciate a product’s functionality than it is to elucidate its emotional
effect. When I find myself admiring a product, it is often the result of its
aesthetic appeal and its potential use in my life than because of any conscious
emotion or associative meaning.

            To summarize my analytic findings, I can readily
appreciate objects that have aesthetic value but lack personal significance,
perhaps even more often than objects that I consider meaningful. This is likely
a product of the fact that most items that are important to me personally are
books, which I generally do not associate with clever design.

Works Cited

Desmet, Pieter
and Paul Hekkert. “Framework of Product Experience.” International Journal of Design 1, no.1 (2007): 57-66.

Fogg, BJ. “A
Behavior Model for Persuasive Design.”

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