Challenge8

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This
semester, I have unknowingly both designed and written about products that are
attractive to me for the three reasons laid out in Pieter Desmet and Paul
Hekkert’s “Framework of Product Experience”: aesthetic experience, experience
of meaning, and emotional experience.

In
designing products, however, I rarely focused on perfecting one of those
specific facets to make my product desirable. My main focus in designing
products was usability, with my goal being to make a simple, useful, and easily
understood products. Desmet and Hekkert refer to this design concept as
“product experience and usability.” The authors do not consider this attribute to
be its own level of product experience, although they acknowledge that
“usability can most likely generate and influence all three levels of product
experince” (63). I aimed to make products that fulfilled a specific purpose
which may not currently be fulfilled and focused on ensuring that these
products were intuitive to use and very simple for the user. As discussed in
the article, this usability is highly correlated with emotional experience
because a product filling specific needs and being very easy and understandable
to use evoke feelings like “satisfaction and happiness.”

The
secondary goal of my products was for them to be aesthetically pleasing (in my
case only by sight). I wanted the design of each product to accurately
represent its function and relay the same message of usability. As with
usability, I focused on this design aspect to ultimately improve the emotional
experience of the user. Desmet and Hekkert note that many researchers “consider
an aesthetic experience to be a specific type of appraisal” (62). For this
reason, I found it important to have an aesthetically pleasing product, as an
ugly one could turn users off before they even have to chance to fully use it.
I designed my products to be minimalist, limiting text and using simple fonts,
applying basic color schemes, adding little frill, and having the overall flow
of the app be very intuitive. Over the last decade, we have seen Apple shift
its logos and interfaces from realistic (with shadows, gradients, etc.) to
simple (one color, one dimensional). I attempted to copy this current Apple
style in many of my products.

In reviewing my “What I’ve Got’s,” however, I noticed
that I don’t always value products for the same reasons that I design for.
Certainly there is a huge component of being fascinated with products that give
me a good emotional experience. The main aspect about a product that I care
about is experience of meaning though. I don’t necessarily value my track
jacket because of how beautiful it is, but rather because I enjoy the memories
of running track and the times when I wore the jacket. I don’t love the Boston Celtics’
mascot for any reason other than the fact that I love going to the Celtics and
he is a physical manifestation of that. I don’t love the game Resistance
because of its usability, but because of the great memories and fun I have
playing the game.

A common thread throughout my WIGs is that I
definitely favored products that were simple, easy to use, and were generally
not big name brands (or didn’t have logos on them). The main aspect is that
they are all products or things that I know I will be enjoying myself when I
see/use them. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to design for experience of
meaning because it can differ so vastly between individuals. In explaining the
connection between the experience of meaning and emotion, Desmet and Hekkert refer
to a stainless steel kitchen that can be both interpreted as modern and
cutting-edge or impersonal and cold. Thus, I found that I have to focus on
aspects like usability to ensure a strong, positive emotional connection with
the products I design.

PDF here

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