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Emotional Design: Why We Love (Or Hate) Everyday Things [continued]

I also read Donald A. Norman’s Emotional Design: Why We Love (Or Hate) Everyday Things and was struck by how much the design of modern products has changed from when the book was published in 2005.

Like the other commenters & reviewers noted, the book was published right before the launch of the iPhone, which could arguably be considered the biggest influence of product design this decade (or longer). Since the iPhone and iPad launched, a new language, gestures, has been introduced into the common lexicon. Certainly gesture based interfaces existed in the past, but these devices made ‘sheet of glass’ interaction commonplace.

You see swipe gestures in commercials (Geico) and pinch to zoom on nearly every type of touch device. I would be curious to know the author’s feelings on the proliferation of these interfaces, as he was concerned about the lack of touch feedback provided by sheet of glass interfaces.

Another design example I found interesting was about amusement park rides. The rides are designed to provide a viscerally exciting experience (thrilling, high-speed) but must still provide elements that are reflectively relevant  (safety systems, cleanliness). This made me think of the attraction Mission Space, where the designers had difficulity finding a medium between these two elements.

Many rides & attractions give the rider a visual cue for what they are going to experience, be it a big drop or a spinning elephant. In the case of Mission Space,the ride is contained in a large room that isn’t visible to people entering the attraction. Inside is essentially a centrifuge where you experience high g-forces similar to the launch of a space shuttle. Because the ride system and concept was completely new, and because riders couldn’t see the motion of the ride, there wasn’t any good way to judge the intensity of the experience. After a number of unfortunate incidents where riders were injured or died who were not healthy enough to experience the attraction, the pre-show and entrance had to be redesigned to better represent the intensity of the experience.

Can anyone think of any other experiences that exhibit a similar imbalance?

4 comments to Emotional Design: Why We Love (Or Hate) Everyday Things [continued]

  • caroline sinders

    This just really reminds me of the time I spent as a pre school teacher and the time I spend currently as a nanny. The touch screen for Iphones, droids, I-pads and tablets are revolutionizing the way children learn about media. 20month olds that I babysit for used to hate my old blackberry because they couldn’t touch anything on it. My iphone was amazing to them because they had grown up since infancy playing an iphone. They knew where youtube and the games were on my iphone because it was a medium they interacted with daily. And it was a democratizing medium because almost everyone around them had a smart phone that interacted in an incredibly similar and uniform way.

    The preschool I used to work for was telling me about the current crop of 3 and a half year olds (that’s the age group I’ve worked with). Because of touch tablets, children now a days, apparently, are less dexterous with their hands and figures. They have a hard time holding pencils, pens, and crayons the “correct” way because so many of their toys know are about touching that involves swiping and less touching that involves malleability.
    Danny Rozin brought up the point during my ICM class (I made a game for two years that teaches them out to draw using draggability) that maybe this is a positive thing and not a negative thing. I somewhat agree/disagree- children are learning what media and design are setting before them, so they are learning on what the basis is of technology- if technology is going to build onto touch screens and utilizing the swiping, then maybe the way we hold pencils will totally change. THe idea of this being good or bad seems like a false ditchomy because it’s narrowing the conversation. Perhaps the conversation we should be having is why we’ve stopped with swiping when it comes to touch screens and why dont we push tangibility more?

  • Andrew "Sigler"

    People often gripe about touchscreens, at least in some of the readings we’ve had of p-comp and such. I get it. It’s flat. It’s glass. Kind of boring. However, touchscreens allow for something that most other interfaces haven’t allowed for, and that is variable, or implicite, control of programs that keeps the human form in mind. The actual screen is boring, but it allows our hands to be hands again, to to traverse the screen with whatever movement we want. I myself became very excited about touchscreen when I started applying them to making music. Lately, we’ve started to see touchscreens come out that don’t such a large amount of latency like the iPad, and I for one am excited to see what musicians can do with a touchscreen. Variable controllers, like knobs, faders, joysticks, are pretty limiting, in that they force the hand to act in a much more narrow fashion than touchscreens do. I mean, I can use all FIVE of my fingers! Independently or together! That is very new. I’ve noticed that when people talk about interfaces, they often focus on the interface itself, rather than what the interface implies and/or allows.

    Another thing that I like about touchscreens is that they create the illusion of directly controlling something with you skin. With old interfaces, I would move some device, which would then change something on the screen. Touchscreens allow me to feel like my finger is directly controlling that thing, getting rid of the middle man. If we are believe that (maybe) technology is not something separate from life and evolution, getting rid of these middle men would seem to be a positive step in the direction towards infusion.

  • Nancy

    Caroline..I think it may be a little bit extreme to assume that kids aren’t learning to hold a pencil b/c of ipads. Families that give pre-schoolers ipads also have pencils and paper and lots of other toys ‘n stuff to play with. Most 5 year olds,even, wouldn’t spend as many hours on an iPad as they would playing with blocks or trucks or dolls. This has the feeling of the hue and cry that always accompanies a new technology.

    I think what Andrew says about control, the feeling of direct control is a very good point.

    Tom.. There are many stories about how people learn to use new technologies. How we try to make them more familiar.. the horseless carriage, for instance. In public schools in the early 1900’s, when there were huge numbers of immigrants, they had lessons in how to board a bus. I have a photo somewhere of a model put in the school gymnasium to show them how and let them practice

  • ytf208

    Long time ago, I met a magazine editor. He said that he think the children in this age is really poor because of lack of experience of the nature. I think in the different way. The people now a day seems like they don’t have chance to touch too many stuff, but I believe people have their own balance way. They can find out their own path to get balance. The weird thing happen now a day just a process. This is why emotion design is so important. Owning to emotion will change from age to age, we have to find the way to match different type of the emotion. Something maybe has no meaning in the past.
    There is a news I saw last month, it’s about a girl fight to her boyfriend because he didn’t answer her “What’s app” message right away. The girl think it shows the “read”, so girl think the boy read the message which is not true. This situation lead to the fight. This is a really interesting topic. In the pass, there is also have a interesting story about a boyfriend and girlfriend they waiting for each other on the different side of the bridge. They wait for all night, and can’t find each other. In that time, cell phone maybe meaning less. Now a days, cell phone become a necessary stuff in our life. Many people can’t live without it. In this situation, emotion design change. I am really interesting in people have different mood in different kind of situation and different age. It just like a game have their own life, and it will grow up by themselves. I am really exciting about what will going to happen in the future.