Mod 2 – User Psychology with Prof. Bjorn Akselsen
Yes, our customers have feelings.
Mind blown right?! I use the word “customer” interchangeably with “user”, it reminds me that in the end, all design is ultimately a service and users are ultimately people. In many ways, the design thinking philosophy (if you can apply a term like philosophy to it) promotes service to humanity. But good service is not provided blindly, I currently work in a food & beverage, hospitality environment and I have come to know that the best servers are those that anticipate and understand what the customer will need. It comes from experience, but it also comes from asking, being attentive and observing.
In our first module, we explored the “design thinking” approach and learned that in order to practice it, we place the user at the center of all our development activities. We must understand the user’s needs and desires to create innovative solutions that make them happy. It requires a bit of psychology. Don’t worry, hippies have not overrun corporate headquarters. Here is a helpful equation any executive would be receptive to: Happy Users = Successful Product = Growth. Just place these three bullet points in a powerpoint and call it a wrap. That way, you don’t get that “Nobody Glows” treatment at the next meeting.
UX/UI Psychoanalytical Research is not done with the intention of manipulating users emotional landscapes in order to trigger some behavior, such as buying a product, subscribing or creating an addiction. We find those uses of psychology in advertising and marketing. This is a little different, successful UI/UX case studies show that the most powerful insights are attained when the design process is actually insulated from business and profit objectives.
“Companies who take profit as their purpose are like people who think life is about breathing. They are missing something.” – Peter Senge
You don’t have to take a shower afterwards.
Instead, exploring the feelings, attitudes, needs, motivations and triggers of users and how they are associated with your brand or product in itself is business intelligence. It can lead to more informed strategy decisions, budgetary allocations, cost analysis and accurate projections of a product or service’s evolution. It can help determine if functionality and features are moving in the right direction. Emotional feedback is often anecdotal and must be interpreted and processed, it may take some time and work to reach any meaningful understanding, but it can be quite truthful and revealing. Like other types of research, it should adhere to best practices, avoid biases of any kind and be executed in a structured and scientific manner. In addition, logging and documenting subjective data such as user feelings can support or dismiss certain assumptions or beliefs internal stakeholders may have about their goods. A paradox: Through subjectivity comes objectivity. The practice of user psychoanalysis is exploratory but it can also be declarative and explanatory.
If you work in an environment where leadership is not actively seeking input from customers in the form of surveys, follow up feedback forms, testing, observation and focus groups, it is a red flag. If these activities are not valued or considered as an important part of a planning process (if any), get out…bad things will happen… if they haven’t already. Adding psychoanalysis to other forms of data in your development process provides an effective decision tool set.
Feelings are powerful drivers of human behavior.
In competitive marketplaces where companies are offering similar (or even identical) products, what determines one’s success over the other? This is literally the million dollar question. The phrase “customer loyalty” describes a behavior built on the feeling of trust. The terms “simple” and “user friendly” describe an attitude based on a desire for clarity. When someone says a service is “reliable” it stems from a need for stability, calm and confidence. When products and services tap into the emotional connection we have to our possessions and activities, they address the innermost and significant facet of the human experience.
Anastasia, a former management consultant and writer for cleverism.com, explains it best:
We perceive our experiences and our possessions as extensions of ourselves, as extensions of our personality. ‘I am free, therefore I am driving an expensive sports car’. ‘I am a busy businesswoman, therefore I am shopping from a high brand coffee shop’. ‘I am an environmentalist in my soul and therefore I only shop from eco-friendly brands’.
This emotional knowledge can lead to design breakthroughs that bring true joy to your user. For example, one of the key moments that propelled AirBnB from a failing startup to a billion dollar enterprise was when Joe Gebbia and his team reached the understanding that the fundamental emotional drive of its users was aspirational. When they changed their UI and added the ability to create a “wishlist” of places their users hoped to visit, it met a need for discovery and a feeling of optimism.
Exercise your emotional awareness
Our assignment this week was to get in touch with our own feelings. We have been tasked with describing how a specific product, service, or device make us feel and why. Not only is a great exercise to become more aware of the relationship we have with our stuff but it helps us as user experience professionals probe others better. The center for Nonviolent Communication provides a list of common needs and feelings that we can use as a framework for our vocabulary in this domain. In the spirit of being in a more positive mindset, I have decided to share my feelings on three things I love.
E‑ZPass is an electronic toll collection system used on most tolled roads, bridges, and tunnels in the eastern United States, as far south as Florida and as far west as Illinois. It utilizes RFID technology (radio frequency) to allow travelers to use the transponders to identify and pay tolls throughout the network. Using E-Zpass, a vehicle can simply pass a checkpoint without stopping and have funds deducted from a prepaid electronic account. Having to stop at toll booths with cash made me feel FRUSTRATED, ANXIOUS and DISTRESSED because my need for FREEDOM, SPACE and FLOW was not being met. Since getting E-Zpass I am much happier on the road as it meets my need for CHOICE and MOVEMENT and provides feelings of EMPOWERMENT as I can utilize express lanes, save time and not worry about having exact change. This is important to me in the congested beltway area and travel. It also meets my needs for EASE and COMPETENCE, because I never have to worry about replenishing the account and will automatically bill by bank account when it has a low balance. Mobility is a commodity worth paying for and of personal high value.
Google Docs/ G Suite
Google Docs is a free Web-based application in which documents and spreadsheets can be created, edited and stored online. Users of Google Docs can import, create, edit and update documents and spreadsheets in various fonts and file formats, combining text with formulas, lists, tables and images. Before Google Docs, I would need to keep all my files back-up and stored on a flash drive. While working in programs like Microsoft Word, I would need to manually save. I would also worry about saving, versioning, transferring, forgetting or losing my work on different machines. This caused IRRITATION and FEAR. Now mobile friendly Google Docs allows me to work from anywhere, anytime, on multiple devices and I never have to worry about losing work. It also automatically saves. These features provide a feeling of PEACE, FREEDOM and HARMONY. In addition to the flexibility, I can share and edit documents with colleagues in real time without having to read a bunch of notes and corrections meeting my needs for EASE, COLLABORATION & COMMUNITY. It has solved many previous work space, writing and academic productivity challenges.
Netflix is a streaming subscription service that allows members to watch a wide variety TV shows, movies, documentaries on internet-connected devices.I love Netflix for many of the same reasons I love Google Docs: Convenience, freedom and mobility. Paying a high subscription rate for cable was bothering me as I observed neither I or my kids were watching much live TV. Instead we were playing video games, spending time online on sites like youtube or getting on demand or redbox rentals. This caused me to be ANNOYED, DISGUSTED and DISTURBED when I saw the bill every month. In addition, IMHO the quality of the programming was mostly bad and lacked choice or originality. I RESENTED that cable companies would charge one price for a year then increase it without offering any additional value as per contract agreement. It felt WASTEFUL, which actually leads to GUILT. As a family there were more valuable things we could do with that money. It was almost as if we were being CHEATED which culminated in feelings of ANGER. By comparison, we paid much less for Netflix, were able to customize it based on our preferences which meant there was always something “good” to watch, could watch it on multiple devices without equipment fees and other nonsense and could even utilize it away from home. These qualities generated feelings of SATISFACTION because the service was meeting my need for HONESTY, OPENNESS, CHOICE and FREEDOM. In addition to these values, Netflix updated its interface to include a “kids” channel with programming specifically curated for minors. For my wife and I it was worth the money just to have a service our kids (as toddlers) could interact with that was safe. This assured my loyalty due to feelings of TRUST, WELL BEING and SAFETY. I guess we were not the only ones because despite some growth challenges, media wars and competitors, NETFLIX has become a dominant streaming platform, is now producing successful award winning original programming and has actually begun to become a disruptive force to the cinema industry (similar to iTunes and the record industry). It has come a long way from a DVD mail order service.
There is a lot you can probably tell about me from reading these statements. Over a long term, not only can you see the strengths and weaknesses of some of the products I am describing, it also shows you my value system as a customer, a user and consumer of these products. If you find similar responses across a pool of interviews. The pattern and trends could signify the opportunity to gain some business intelligence. What’s trending on twitter is an example of big data revealing collective consciousness at any given moment. Creating a similar metric for your users subconscious over time is helpful and beneficial. In short agile burst, this type of user feedback has already been demonstrated to fuel groundbreaking solutions and development enhancements. Believe it or not, users want us as designers to make life easier for them, to understand what they want, to know how to serve them. So, it is OK, you don’t have to feel guilty about using people’s feelings, they are a potent source of user data, if the intent is to make things better by making better things.
Resources & References
Combining UX Design And Psychology – Ceros Resources. (2019, March 06). Retrieved from https://www.ceros.com/resources/combining-ux-design-psychology-change-user-behavior
Behavior Model. (2019, September 03). Retrieved from https://www.behaviormodel.org
Shapiro, A. (2015). The Next Big Thing In Design? Less Choice. Fast Company. Retrieved from https://www.fastcompany.com/3045039/the-next-big-thing-in-design-fewer-choices
Anticipatory Design: The Opportunities and Risks. (2019, February 07). Retrieved from https://www.hongkiat.com/blog/anticipatory-design
Weinschenk, S. (2011). 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People (Voices That Matter). New Riders. Retrieved from https://www.amazon.com/Things-Designer-People-Voices-Matter/dp/0321767535
Weinschenk, S. (2015). 100 MORE Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People (Voices That Matter). New Riders. Retrieved from https://www.amazon.com/Things-Designer-People-Voices-Matter/dp/0134196031
Eyal, N., & Hoover, R. (2014). Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products. Portfolio. Retrieved from https://www.amazon.com/Hooked-How-Build-Habit-Forming-Products/dp/1591847788
Cagan, M. (2017). INSPIRED: How to Create Tech Products Customers Love. Wiley. Retrieved from https://www.amazon.com/INSPIRED-Create-Tech-Products-Customers/dp/1119387507
Patton, J., & Economy, P. (2014). User Story Mapping: Discover the Whole Story, Build the Right Product. O’Reilly Media. Retrieved from https://www.amazon.com/User-Story-Mapping-Discover-Product/dp/1491904909
Levy, J. (2015). UX Strategy: How to Devise Innovative Digital Products that People Want. O’Reilly Media. Retrieved from https://www.amazon.com/UX-Strategy-Innovative-Digital-Products/dp/1449372864
Kalbach, J. (2016). Mapping Experiences: A Complete Guide to Creating Value through Journeys, Blueprints, and Diagrams. O’Reilly Media. Retrieved from https://www.amazon.com/Mapping-Experiences-Complete-Creating-Blueprints/dp/1491923539
Understanding and Managing Customer Perception. (2018, November 16). Retrieved from https://www.cleverism.com/understanding-and-managing-customer-perception
How design thinking transformed Airbnb from failing startup to billion-dollar business. (2013, May 01). Youtube. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RUEjYswwWPY
Design Thinking and Innovation At Apple. (2016, October 18). Youtube. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ir3E-TEUk48
Kim, M. (2019). The Business of Design. Medium. Retrieved from https://uxplanet.org/the-business-of-design-60b958cc0f4d
Recent Posts from the Graduate Series:
- The Shenandoah Valley Report – Content Strategy Final Project - Module 7 - Content Strategy with Professor Phillip Simon Delivering on an RFP. In this post, I am sharing my…
- STOP LYING: Ethics and Enablers. - Module 4 - Content Strategy with Professor Phillip Simon Should “enablers”, those who conceive, perpetuate and expedite unethical communications, lies,…
- Broad Strokes for Belfast – Content Strategy - Module 3 - Content Strategy with Professor Phillip Simon Determining A Strategy This week we produced a content analysis to…
- Performing A Content Audit & Analysis - Module 2, Part 1 - Content Strategy with Professor Phillip Simon Really Getting to Know Your Client This week we…
- Clearing Up Content Concepts - Module 2, Part 2 - Content Strategy with Professor Phillip Simon This week, we are going to take a moment…
- My personal relationship with content - Module 1, Part 3 - Content Strategy with Professor Phillip Simon Two-Fold After giving my own relationship with content some…