Can't Forget Humans When Doing Design

from the that's-right,-there-are-those-user-people dept

Honestly, I don’t think there’s anything new about the ideas being talked about by two new books on design (via this Business Week review), but both seem to focus on the “human” issues in designing products. People always say this – and designers always forget this – because, despite everything, it isn’t always easy to figure out all the different factors that will impact a product’s design. In The Human Factor, Kim Vicente appears to focus on how human’s actually using technology seem to muck it all up. There have been other books and articles on this subject for ages – but it doesn’t stop humans from mucking things up. Part of this is the simple fact that you simply can’t predict everything that someone will do with a new product – nor should you. Yes, it’s important to try to think through as many use cases as possible, but when actual users get their hands on a product, they’re always going to surprise you. Meanwhile, in Emotional Design, Don Norman seems to admit that usability isn’t everything. There’s often some deeper emotional connection that makes people crave certain products. I’m not sure this actually goes against usability – it’s just that the overall emotional impact of the design often is considered part of it’s usability for many people. The real question, though, is what happens when these two different issues collide? What happens if you create an emotionally captivating design, that people flock to, but in actually using the product, things get mucked up? Does the emotional attachment go away? Or will people overlook those things for the sake of design? Perhaps that explains the iPod users who would rather get mugged than get new headphones.

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