Monday, September 28, 2009

Emotional Design

1. The main purpose of Norman's Emotional Design is to explain the three main levels of design: visceral, behavioral, and reflective.
The visceral level of design is the most basic and the most immediate of the three levels of design. As Norman writes, "Visceral design is what nature does." Norman touches on co-evolution to give a brief description of how we react to certain things and why. For example, "the human love of sweet tastes and smells and of bright, highly saturated colors probably derives from this co-evolution of mutual dependence between people and plants." Much of what draws us viscerally to things has been genetically present for thousands of years.
Norman's description of the behavioral level of design most closely resembles his earlier work, The Design of Everyday Things. In this section, he touches on a design's performance. He stresses usability and iterates that good behavioral designs fulfill a need, and fulfill that need easily and completely. He brings back the topics of feedback and mappings to illustrate what a good behavioral design looks like.
The last level of design, and the most complex, is the reflective level. The reflective level is the most personal. Reflective design "is all about message, about culture, and about the meaning of a product or its use." Our possessions are the vehicles for displaying an image of ourselves. In short, they reflect certain aspects of our lives or personalities.

2. Although the topics of both pieces of writing differ, the fundamentals of The Design of Everyday Things and Emotional Design are the same. Both focus on how humans interact with designs, and how to bring a design to life in a way that complements a human's approach and reaction to that design. Both works are also structured similarly. He combines case studies and examples with clear, interesting prose to create a work that is interesting and attention retaining.

3. When I think of something in my life that is there because of my visceral reaction, I think of my car. Of course, behavioral design was a big part of the selection. MPG and overall cost were the main factors I used to narrow the field, but when it came down to it, the car in my driveway (2.3 miles away in Dearborn) is the car that was most viscerally appealing.
Looking around my dorm, one of the most behavior-oriented things that I can see is my microwave. I acquired it from a high school giveaway for free, and, aesthetically, I got what I paid for. It's a simple, boxy design, but if I were losing sleep over how it looks in my room, I could go out and spend more money to get a sleeker looking machine. However, the boxy device does what it's supposed to do. You put in something cold, you get out something hot, and in the end, that is all that matters.
For me, my class ring is one of the most reflective possessions I own. I went to the same school for twelve years, growing up with the people I met there. I knew that my ring would always remind me of that major portion of my life, and I wanted the ring to reflect my sentiments. I ended up paying a lot of money. I knew I could have spent much less on fake diamonds and a cheaper metal, but I felt that that would not have genuinely reflected my feelings. However, I do not regret the price at all, and in the two years that I've owned the ring, not a day has gone by in which I haven't worn it.

1 comment:

  1. This isn't a particularly relevant comment, but I might swing by your room and use your microwave if that's okay? Haha. :)