Last night we had a guest lecturer, Alfred Lui, in the HCI: Interaction Design course I am taking at DePaul University as part of my Masters in Business & Information Technology program and it was FASCINATING. Alfred is a Sr. User Experience Designer at Motorola in the Mobile Phone area, and worked on the Cliq you see in the picture. It was really great to see someone who has built a career focussed on creating innovative and exciting user experiences with consumer products. Particularly mobile products which is such a buzzing area, with a lot of innovation as everyone scrambles to be the iPhone destroyer!
His lecture was on Emotions in UX Design, and I will not re-hash his presentation and devalue the message. However I was intrigued by his discussion of work from Ravi Chitturi’s research about Hedonostic and Utilitarian trade-offs when purchasing a product. He discussed how, if you buy a product because it is cool but only quite usable, but definitely very cool, it results in happy, joyful emotions. You may even brag to your friends or blog about the experience. If it turns out that it is NOT cool the emotions are more likely guilt or anxiety at having spent money unwisely, or because you were tricked in to an incorrect purchase by superficial bells and whistles. Whereas with the utilitarian product with a usability focus, if that does not live up to these high expectations of usability and utility, the emotion-meter can swing quickly to anger and displeasure. It just did not do what it said on the tin (you need to be from the UK to get that link reference 🙂 If the product is usable and satisfies it’s utility objectives, then you will be pleased no doubt. However will you brag or blog about that experience? Will that product command brand loyalty in an economy brimming with new products and ideas?
This is what fascinates me. We need designers and innovative people to push a product or consumer space forward in to a new realm. But a basic usability study, or a Business Analyst speaking to users and stakeholders, gathering requirements, will be naturally blinkered by the users own blinkered view on the product space. To create passionate and engaging products, be they physical or digital, you must be prepared to risk usability and requirement requests, in pursuit of something beyond what could possibly be achieved by sticking to the obvious.
What an awfully tricky, but exciting line to be on!!
This course has really opened my eyes to the world of usability, user centered and user experience design, and I have to say I am hooked. It feels like an area I am already passionate about and I am only just scraping the surface. A novice looking in to a new world. I am now looking at how the Business Analyst role ties in with usability teams. Do they work together, or can a Business Analyst be directly involved in this area? Particularly in small companies where the budget does not stretch to a BA and UCD expert.
I have been talking with my good friend Jan Booy over at web design agency Booyant and I will be getting involved with some basic web usability tests, so more blogging to come on that soon.