Monday, October 21, 2013

Form follows feeling

New rule for design: form follows feeling.

As these articles (here and here) from Medium about Starbucks'  architectural design illustrate,
emotional design seems to be trumping functional design.  Is this an advance?

I have a few feelings about this as a trend.  The original focus of the science behind human factors has been functionality, usability, ease of learning, and much more "objectively measurable" performance indicators.  But the field (since Norman's Emotional Design) and my own practice has since evolved to understand that emotion and function are not dual systems but are tightly integrated.  This is a fundamental part of the brain's wiring, so we have no choice but to take it this way.  I find it more interesting too, as my previous blog posts have shown (recently for example here and here).

And reading the articles about Starbucks (and having been one of those "flying solo"), I can appreciate that this is just as important as an ergonomically effective chair and a table that can fit my laptop and notes.

But I don't think it is one or the other.  I think that the challenge going forward will be to create designs that support the functionality that users need, the performance levels that they need, and the emotional needs for that context.

The hardest part of this challenge will be prioritizing each context for how much of each a given design context requires.

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