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Getting Emotional — Design, UX and Magic.

TEAMS Design

By Paul Hatch

User Experience Design is not new. Finding breakthrough ideas based on the user’s real needs has always been inherent to Industrial Design. But it is a method that has become better defined over the last decade and is now recognized as a business asset.

User Experience Design can tap into the user’s unmet needs and deliver the answer before the question was formed.

UX Design has also revealed other adjacent specialisms, including one of my favorites, Design Empathy. The areas where the two overlap is particularly fruitful and can lead to some inspirational product strategies, as I’ll example below.

In User Experience Design (UXD), the focus is not just on the product and the interaction — but is elevated to include the experience as a whole.
-It means understanding why the user does what they do, and what else they do before, during, and after that interaction.
-It means applying consideration to adjacent products or functions, where a symbiotic relationship could make each element even greater.
-It means designing for the needs we don’t even know we have yet.

For many years, statistics on purchasing habits were the basis for choosing which functions a product should include. Focus groups would then provide the ‘Voice Of Customer’. Because the user is only able to articulate ideas based on what’s already there, this approach detracted from discovering breakthrough ideas.

To do this we need to discover the users’ underlying emotional needs and use these to define the design. Design Empathy is a simple and effective method; the goal is to delve into WHY the user makes their choices, and what drives them. This is usually buried deep under layers of workarounds and make-do-with-its. It’s our job to bring it back to the surface and unleash it!

Design empathy is the fuzzy stuff that can create an incredible connection between you and the user.

The ultimate goal is to guide the user to choose a product or service based on emotion first…. and only then let them rationalize the purchase. It’s very powerful. It’s a great way to avoid commoditization and competing on price alone.

Photo Credits: TEAMS

In observing users interacting with 3D printers TEAMS Design found users really didn’t enjoy the experience and felt removed from the machine-like process. With Dremel’s 3D printer the decision was made to hide the technical parts and create easy visibility and access to the most important areas. This simple change took away the fear of the process and highlight the joys and thus increased the experience tenfold.

The magic combo. Combining the insights from UXD with the emotionally driven method of Design Empathy can give you MAGIC at your fingertips. If used to define an entire brand or product line, the results become multiplied.

Photo Credits: TEAMS

One excellent case study for this is the House of Marley brand. When Bob Marley’s family described to us their vision of a brand that would recapture their late father’s image and what he stood for, we were very excited. It was the perfect platform to use our design empathy methods to define the emotional essence of the product line, having the UXD lead us to define how the brand would connect to the user. The results were astonishing. Not only does the brand differentiate in functional attributes (quality of sounds, materials, etc.), but it has a very apparent soul. Without a single advertisement, the brand continues to expand its followers and has built a long-lasting foundation based on emotion that will well outlive its more superficial competitors.

Photo Credits: TEAMS

Written by Paul Hatch, TEAMS Chicago CEO. Originally published at on July 01, 2016.

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TEAMS is one of the world’s leading design agencies. TEAMS is not just a name — it’s our attitude!

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