It’s nearly 1 am and I just finished an email on one of the internal Adaptive Path mailing lists about the role of emotion in design work. Why do I even read email from AP this late at night, god knows. ;)
But it was uncanny timing, as I’m in the middle of actually reading Don Norman’s Emotional Design, a book I referenced in a 15-page paper I wrote a few months ago on the love/hate relationship that can coexist for a particular product or service (I don’t think I ever posted it; maybe I should).
I also had a conversation earlier about the place of emotional consideration in the design process. The musing was that the logical component of design is absolutely necessary for a successful design, as at least if a product succeeds logically, there’s potential for emotional appeal. But if there’s just emotion and no logic to back it up, it will fail.
However, I don’t think it’s that black and white. And there are products that totally fail from a logical perspective that appeal to people emotionally, even if they don’t work. But for the most part, I do agree that the focus on creating successful products still resides in the realm of logic (useful/usable) more so than emotion (desirable).
In my paper I argue that the usable, useful, desirable paradigm is not the end of the story. In fact, it’s because there is a story that makes it necessary for designers to extend their thinking to the considerations of use over time and the complex emotional relationships that are formed with products and services over time, between user and product, and between users and other users around the product.