Relearning

9 10 2006

Until now I’ve obviously missed the darned point.

There are some things in life that you need to relearn.

I relearnt something just two days ago.

I used to run Macs. Then I ditched them to go PC (hiss). Obviously this was driven by the PC ability to work well in a larger scale environment.

So when I was at the WDO6 (www.webdirections.org) conference, I got the opportunity to use a Mac powerbook pro, and a g4 powerbook.

I was smitten.

Then I attended a presentation from Andy Clarke and Mark Pesce, they both spoke about design, and its capability to invoke emotion within the viewer / user.

Now, based upon many years in the Government design space, I’ve come to realise, that I am perhaps missing something. What.

My background in industrial design seemed to force me down and engineering style of approach. While being highly effective, I discovered something.

Any design work I’ve done in recent years has been technically excellent. Highly user focused, and perfectly functional. (not that I’ve done that much actual design work recently because of my role these days but anyway)

Problem is, despite all these things making the interfaces effective, they are not successful. Truly successful.

I’ll swing over to a real world example.

I bought a compaq laptop last year. I went into the shop, picked it in about 10 minutes on spec and price. Paid and left.

The day I got back from WD06, I bought a MacBookPro. Didn’t even think twice. Had to have one.

I had this ridiculously intense emotion welled up within me after having used one for a very very brief period of time.

O.K. point coming up..

An effective design is well engineered. It meets the need of the user, it delivers what it has to, and it does so in an elegant and refined way.

A truly successful design does all this, AND invokes the right emotions in the user, to establish some form of emotional response and maybe attachment to it.

Macs do this. Particularly the notebooks. Every Mac owner I know “LOVES” their machine. They speak fondly of it, what it does, how it looks, how it feels to use, how they like to use it. The uniqueness of it even.

PC owners (and I’m one of them) don’t have this something special in their eye when they talk about their viao or tecra notebook.

And there’s the difference. The emotional connection is established and the success of the product is established, not just because of what it does, but what it IS.

I love my new Mac. I’ve had it for 3 days. I loved it before I even owned it.

Jobs did his… Ahem job with the Macs. He’s earned my $3000 bucks.

Design is more than the discipline and dedication to technicalities. Its as much that as it is getting it to FEEL nice, to be what the user wants it to be, and to establish a partnership with the user, as well as meeting its functional needs.

Requirements engineering has a friend. His name is ART.

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