Towards an understanding of product pleasure
thesisposted on 10.01.2013, 13:33 by Shayal Chhibber
It is now widely acknowledged that consumers in developed markets tend not to see functionality and usability as major differentiators in the products that they buy. Recent years have seen the growth of the 'hedonic consumer'; the products that they buy are often chosen for the pleasures that they elicit. To satisfy these consumer demands, designers need to understand more about the less tangible emotional aspects of consumers. The principle aim of this programme of research was to develop a design resource that could support designers in understanding more about the pleasure needs and attitudes of individual consumers and demographic groups. The discipline of ergonomics already supports design, and other disciplines, with understanding the physical and cognitive characteristics of consumers and a growing number of ergonomists have begun to apply its scientifiC methods and human centred perspective to the emotional needs of the consumer. To develop a resource that would ultimately appeal to designers, a study was conducted to investigate their attitudes towards pleasure and design and their needs for tools developed to support them. This led to a comprehensive specification that governed the functional and aesthetic qualities of the resource and its data content. Using Jordan's Four Pleasure Framework (1997); Physio-pleasure, Socio-pleasure, Psycho-pleasure, and Ideo-pleasure, qualitative and quantitative data were collected that showed the manner in which consumers can derive pleasure from the products that they own. The qualitative data consisted of extensive Video-interviews with 100 consumers concerning three products that they own that give them pleasure. Other sets of data were also collected to give the designer more insight into an individual consumer's lifestyle. The quantitative data were the product of a UK wide survey of 682 consumers' attitudes towards product pleasure. A number of significant gender and age effects, concerning the pleasures that we seek from the products we own, were found. For example, females found greater pleasure from the social and ideological aspects of products and males tended to draw pleasure from the status and performance demonstrated. Older generations drew pleasure from sound functionality and usability, while younger generations were more willing to use challenging products and placed more emphasis on the social aspects of prodUcts. To house this data an interactive design resource, named RealPeople, was developed. The driving principle behind its development was the representation of information about real consumers that is not diluted; maintaining the empathic link between the data and the consumer from which it originated. Designers can search and review the database, absorbing information about different individual consumers and the population trends. They can search the data base by product type or consumer characteristics, view video clips of consumers talking about their favourite products and access lifestyle information. Tile functionality of the resource allows designers to save and share different search results, annotate search results with comments, and produce rudimentary presentations of their findings. This information can be used early in the design process to increase awareness of the pleasure needs of different consumer groups, invigorate concept generation, and to initiate research. It can also be used later in the design process, to verify design deCisions, evaluate prototypes against other 'pleasurable' products, and as a presentation tool. Evaluation of the RealPeople resource was extremely Positive. Designers found it highly functional and usable. They were impressed with the relevance and quality of the data that It held. Crucially, they found the novel manner In which the data was presented and the level to which they could interact with it to be appealing. The assessment with designers also unveiled a number of different avenues that future iterations of the resource could potentially take, as well as several longer term research questions that warrant investigation.