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Reading response – Emotional Design

Just like Jonathan, I was most intrigued by Norman’s passage on the three levels of processing after read his book, “emotional design: why we love or hate everyday things”.

He mapped the three levels to produce characteristics as following:

Visceral Design: Appearance

Behavioral Design: The pleasure and effectiveness of use

Reflective Design: Self-image, personal satisfaction and memories

Here, the visceral level is an automatic layer of our brain, which can be biologically determined. “Behavioral level” refers to the part that contains the brain processes that control our behaviors. Reflective layer is considered as the highest layer of our cognition, which watches over, reflects upon and tries to bias the behavioral level.  According to Norman, “each level plays a different role in the total functioning of people and each level requires a different style of design.”

This analysis took me back to a visual installation I saw recently at Newark Liberty airport.

http://www.youtube.com/embed/3tcJ53GLqDI

Libby, named after the airport, is a computerized image projected onto Plexiglas. It has been installed at Terminal B to greet travellers and acts as a customer service rep. It is interesting to see how people interact with Libby.

“She’s friendly and approachable.”

“It’s a little bit freaky when you walk down there. Her body doesn’t look real but her head does.”

“I think it’s weird”

“She has a pleasant smile.”

“Alright, that was just scary. I thought it was a real person.”

“It’s really odd the way her eyes follow you. It’s really odd.”

Just as Norman stated, there is no single design will satisfy everyone. From the visceral level, Libby is young, smiling, wearing a red jacket, and speaking slowly and clearly, which gives rise to positive emotions in human brain. From the behavior level, Libby is designed to act as a customer service rep to answer travellers frequently questions such as how to move from one terminal to another, where to get a cab… However, since she runs a 90-second loop of information and cannot really interact with people, the usability is quite low. From the reflective level, some people accept Libby as an interesting innovation and would like to see more similar Avatars around; others blamed the airport companies getting cheaper and cheaper – trying to reduce their labor expenses by installing these creepy machines…From my view, I feel it’s a good attempt to integrate high-tech into the navigation system at airports. However, instead of working as a screen yakking at people, Libby can be reprogrammed to understand peoples’ questions and to reply with appropriate answers.

3 comments to Reading response – Emotional Design

  • jyp323

    I also agree with Norman’s three levels of design. When we look at something, we try to identify it by familiarity in our personal memories. Therefore, self-image and personal memories take important roles in design. Artsits tend to be valued through audience’s reactions. Where do these reactions come from? I would say, personal memories. As an artist myself, I make public art projects of familiar settings, and I invite others to re-experience the place and re-create personal memories. Now we are in ITP, and we all have to consider about UI and UX designs whenever we make products. I am not a good designer, and I haven’t learned design professionally before. From now on, I should definitely keep in mind of Norman’s three levels of design and produce something based on the rules.

  • Nancy

    Don’t say you are not a good designer… do you mean drawing, aesthetics,? If you are a good problem solver, for example, you are a good designer. Thinking of systems, ways to do things, etc. those are design solutions. You’;re here, so you can learn how to get the other aspects of design under your belt.

  • jyp323

    I meant by “aesthetics.” BUT based on what you said, Nancy, I should say that I am a good designer :). I never thought of myself that way. Now, I realized that I am a programmer who designs algorithms. This means that I am a problem solver and a algorithmic designer. I actually never thought about thinking system as a design before. However, I totally agree on you how thinking process can become a type of design on our mental system. As Norman says of the three levels of design, he also talks about personal satisfaction and memories in reflective design. I should keep in mind that creating intellectual and emotional memories or experiences rely on reflective design.