Challenge 8

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Prior to this class, my design thinking was primarily focused on my vision of existing products. I never thought to branch out and invent something. While I knew that good design could improve lives, I never expected good design to have such a vast conceptual stage, almost like an iceberg underwater, only showing a small portion of itself.

Over the course of the readings, I have noticed that each desirability reading touches on aesthetics less than I had anticipated, focusing instead on a more holistic vision of design, taking into account marketing, ergonomics, engineering, and aesthetics. Design is a process from inception of an idea to creation of and advocation for a tangible product. “Framework of Product Experience” describes three paradigms of product experience: aesthetic experience (connected to the sensory perception of the product), experience of meaning (connected to giving a product or experience a personality or unique mental identifier), and emotional experience (connected to your emotions when using the product). In my readings for the course, I also chose to read Don Norman’s The Design of Everyday Things, which elucidated to me, through a variety of case studies, proper uses of affordances and therefore signaling. Combining these two readings regarding product design with understanding BJ Fogg’s Behavioral Model of triggers and and motivations allows for practical application of creation ideas and interface design.

My WIGS have allowed me to explore all sides of the product experience, really without realizing it. The more I consider how products make me feel, the more I realize the importance of meaning and experience in tandem with the aesthetics I hold so dear. Some shapes, like the BIC lighter, are iconic enough to speak for themselves. The Apple Pencil, however, would not be the product it is if it didn’t harken back to writing utensils in a skeuomorphic fashion. There is a tangible human connection to both, though, and Apple markets the pencil not as a pointing device, but as a drawing device, bringing wonder and glee back to high technology. Even small details, such as the affordances given by the cutout in the aluminum in the front of my MacBook Pro (which points to its function of being a latch) serve a specific purpose and have been tailored for one experience, perfectly, to create sensory memory and deep satisfaction.

My design point of view therefore comes more from an aesthetic approach, following minimalist tendencies. I truly believe that once a paradigm of interaction has been established, it is possible to “trim the fat” to a point where we can find beauty in good, functional objects that need not be ornate. I disagree with Don Norman’s theory that complexity is a good thing (so long as it still creates an experience that minimizes friction). Good design, in my view, achieves simplicity and oozes creativity by manipulating as few objects as possible to carry as much meaning as possible. I believe that aesthetic, sensory perception impacts the meaning and place of a product, as well as the emotional result, more than most people would believe.

BJ Fogg, “A Behavior Model for Persuasive Design”
Don Norman, The Design of Everyday Things
Pieter Desmet and Paul Hekkert, “Framework of Product Experience”

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