selling aesthetics

29 Aug 2006 - 1:24pm
8 years ago
5 replies
797 reads
Dustin Kirk
2006

Aesthetics play an important role in a user's experience. I'm curious to
know what best practices there might be for selling aesthetic decisions to
other project stakeholders. Does anyone have any methods they use that work
well?

-Dustin Kirk
www.dustinkirk.com

Comments

29 Aug 2006 - 1:49pm
Dan Saffer
2003

On Aug 29, 2006, at 11:24 AM, Dustin Kirk wrote:

> Aesthetics play an important role in a user's experience. I'm
> curious to
> know what best practices there might be for selling aesthetic
> decisions to
> other project stakeholders. Does anyone have any methods they use
> that work
> well?

Selling specific decisions or the general decision to spend time with
aesthetics?

If it is the latter, have you passed around Don Norman's "Attractive
Things Work Better" article?

http://www.jnd.org/dn.mss/CH01.pdf

(Chapter 1 from Emotional Design)

Another way to start the conversation is with a funny example: "If
Microsoft Designed the iPod Packaging" video:

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=36099539665548298

If it's the former, get the marketing and sales people (if there are
any) on your side. They like aesthetics because it makes the product
easier to demo and sell.

Dan

Dan Saffer
book http://www.designingforinteraction.com
work http://www.adaptivepath.com
site http://www.odannyboy.com

29 Aug 2006 - 1:52pm
Mark Schraad
2006

In short: Evidentiary results from qualitative research. Research your intended audience. Develop personas and validate them with additional research. [Scenarios and task analysis is more appropriate for assessing functionality and navigation. Then match them to socio, phsycho and demographics. Artifact collections and collage or totem assembly done by your research participants can be very telling. I have in previous years used segmentation and cluster analysis (sort of a shallow pre packaged marketing approach to personas) but have found them too vague and not specific enough to the targeted audience.

Mark

On Tuesday, August 29, 2006, at 11:27AM, Dustin Kirk <dustin.kirk at gmail.com> wrote:

>[Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted material.]
>
>Aesthetics play an important role in a user's experience. I'm curious to
>know what best practices there might be for selling aesthetic decisions to
>other project stakeholders. Does anyone have any methods they use that work
>well?
>
>-Dustin Kirk
> www.dustinkirk.com
>________________________________________________________________
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29 Aug 2006 - 2:29pm
Yury Frolov
2006

Aesthetics help "productize" the technology. It's important to
successfully sell applications aesthetics not only to your user-base
but also to the internal development team - for if development team
does not like aesthetics of the product you don't have a product. A
bit simplistic statement here but I believe it is generally true.

It's a tricky game to correlate aesthetic preferences of multiple
audiences (users, marketing team, engineering, CEO's wife :)etc.
etc.)-- you may want to play "likes-dislikes" game, "generate your
metaphor" exercise (i.e. how do you think of your product - is it
german precision of a BWM or lush luxury of a Cadillac?" etc.
Regardless of how silly questions might be what you are really
interested in is to get a real understanding of generic terms that
people often use: "clean", "professional", "a lot of white space"
etc.... Needless to say gathering and interpreting this data and then
selecting the appropriate visual language would require a skillful
duo of UI and visual designers.
--------------------------------
Yury Frolov
Studio Asterisk*

http://www.studioasterisk.com

On Aug 29, 2006, at 11:24 AM, Dustin Kirk wrote:

> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
> material.]
>
> Aesthetics play an important role in a user's experience. I'm
> curious to
> know what best practices there might be for selling aesthetic
> decisions to
> other project stakeholders. Does anyone have any methods they use
> that work
> well?
>
> -Dustin Kirk
> www.dustinkirk.com
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
> (Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
> Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
> Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
> Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
>
>

29 Aug 2006 - 4:03pm
leo.frishberg a...
2005

>Aesthetics play an important role in a user's experience. I'm
>curious to
>know what best practices there might be for selling aesthetic
>decisions to
>other project stakeholders. Does anyone have any methods they
>use that work
>well?
>
>-Dustin Kirk

I've witnessed at least two completely different approaches here,
ranging on the scale of "simply demonstrating" to "major customer
branding research" both for the purpose of communicating the real need
to express a design consistent with the brand.

This is perhaps the most compelling argument for many of our
development/marketing team members given that "beauty is in the eye of
the beholder" and everyone's a critic. Why should my proposed design be
considered better than the current version simply because the pixels
have changed?

On the "simply demonstrating" side of the scale, I have engaged team
members in exercises to
1) first identify differences (if they can't see them then surely they
can't be convinced of the need)
2) attempt to articulate the differences in ways that relate to either
the customer's or user's experience

And if I'm feeling really frisky:
3) ask them to suggest changes that would enhance #2

These exercises are fairly cheap, can be done with screen shots of
existing products as examples or a few days of mocking up comps for
specific areas of interest.

As Yury suggests in his reply, when the focus is on brand, rather than
UX, I've found the team rallies and aligns with the need for well
executed visual design. I suppose because there has been sufficient
drum beats about the importance of brand and perhaps some presumed value
there...

On the other end of the spectrum, I watched a presentation by one of our
product lines of a branding exercise specifically designed to ferret out
how visual design / industrial design of the product would

A) reflect the design brief given the design team (could we create a
design brief that they could execute on?) and
B) elicit customer reaction consistent with our design intentions

The experiment was a raging success on both counts, contributing
significantly to the development team's understanding of the power of
design to express "soft concepts" like "engaging" "casual" "fun"
"friendly". This exercise was fairly expensive and time consuming; it
generated a lot more than just these data points, but it was a casual
engagement.

Now: having received clear affirmation from the development team of
their understanding of the difference, and having received a vote of
confidence that such differences actually contribute to improved user
experiences (still to be completely validated through testing), the team
wants to know "when the IxD no longer needs to be in the loop as the
arbiter of a successfully implemented design..." (meaning, if the team
can't quite get to the design spec, does the IxD always have to be the
judge? Can't they ever be trained up enough to do without this role?)
I'll leave that to another thread.

Leo

29 Aug 2006 - 4:31pm
leo.frishberg a...
2005

Bad typo in my original posting...

>This exercise was fairly expensive and time consuming; it
>generated a lot more than just these data points, but it was a casual
>engagement.

SHOULD have said: "...,but it was NOT a casual engagement."

Leo

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