Thursday, March 08, 2007

Marc Hassenzahl on User Experience

A great interview on UX ...

"... Interviewer: Sascha Mahlke

[I: ] You were one of the first researchers who studied qualities of interactive systems that go beyond instrumental aspects (the accomplishment of action goals). In the last few years a lot of research has been published in this area and various aspects of non-instrumental qualities have been discussed. You started with the idea of hedonic quality and then differentiated the aspects of identification and stimulation. What dimensions of non-instrumental quality seem to be important from your point of view today?

[Hassenzahl: ] At first, I introduced pragmatic and hedonic aspects to make people in Human-Computer Interaction aware of the fact that there is more to product use than the mere accomplishment of action goals. Hedonic quality was then further specified as stimulation, identification and evocation. ‘Stimulation' is a product's perceived ability to surprise, to be novel. ‘Identification' is about a product's ability to communicate a favorable identity relevant others. And ‘evocation' is about the memories attached to a product. I've selected these four aspects (one pragmatic, three hedonic) because I believe them to be the most important sources of acceptance, usage, liking, and positive emotions. Accordingly, all should remain in our focus as researchers or practitioners.

As a first step, the broad distinction between pragmatic and hedonic helps to bridge gaps between ergonomists, usability engineers, marketers, and designers by providing a vocabulary to talk about the different implications of both aspects. The further specification of hedonic qualities helps to better understand the multilayered nature of product use and liking. It provides categories for analysis.

To give an example, I heard a talk by a researcher, who ran interviews with laypeople about their favorite product. She showed an example interview of an old man talking about the features of his favorite tool. For the inattentive listener, this man talked about the tool solely in terms of its utility and usability. The interview could even be taken as an example of how important those aspects are to people. However, the man introduced the tool by remarking that it was already used by his father, which made it special to him, before going on with details on its particular advantages.

This is clearly about evocation, but it is only because I have the according category that I am able to understand this ‘quality' aspect of the tool. This example also shows a particular difficulty with hedonic qualities. It is hard to talk about them and, thus, they are easily missed in user research."    (Continued via HOT Topics)    [Usability Resources]

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