Saturday, August 11, 2007

Global Market, Global Emotion, Global Design?

Designing for a global market ...

"In the current discussion of where design is going and what matters, there is an emphasis on the user and his or her (emotional) experience. It is a hot topic in books, blogs and the minds of industrial designers and interaction designers, worldwide. The importance of a focus on (emotional) experiences in addition to a merely technological or functional focus is being stressed by professionals with many different cultural backgrounds.

As Levitt (1983) suggested in the Eighties, the world has become a global market place, or a ‘global village’, where each and every consumer shares similar values, lifestyles and desires for product quality and modernity. Does this also imply that there is something like a common ‘emotional experience’? In my opinion, the answer to this question is two-fold. First of all, people share basic emotional reactions and basic human needs. This makes us all part of the same species, so to speak. However, different culturally specific contexts can make a person from Asia evaluate the same stimulus differently from a European person. But, does this count for all products and designs?

A study by Morris and Pai (1997) measured the difference in experience of pleasure, arousal and dominance (PAD) with advertisements between Taiwanese and American subjects. The results indicated that there were no significant overall differences in emotional responses to the ads. Nevertheless, they conclude by saying that culture indeed has some influence on the emotional response to some commercials. This supports the assumption that there are cultural factors influencing the emotional experience. I will try to explain below how I think differences in emotional experience between cultures occur.

People share a set of general needs. Hassenzahl (2004) distinguishes between needs for manipulation (goal-achievement), stimulation (personal growth, an increase of knowledge and skills), identification (self-expression, interaction with relevant others) and evocation (self-maintenance, memories). Needs that are fulfilled create positive emotions, whereas needs that are not fulfilled promote negative emotions. As we all share these needs, it is likely to assume that they are similar for people from different cultural backgrounds. However, if we all share these needs, how different are they weighted between cultures to explain the differences we notice in product experience? The answer lies in the context or particular usage situation of the product.

... A product that has been specifically designed for a certain culture is the ‘ilkone’ mobile phone. This phone was particularly designed for Muslims and it has features that have been tailored to meet the needs of Muslims. For example, the phone has an Islamic calendar, the complete Holy Quran text with English translation (approved by Al-Azhar), a prayer alarm and automatic Qibla direction from anywhere in the world, etc., etc."    (Continued via    [Usability Resources]

ilkone Designed for Global Market - Usability, User Interface Design

ilkone Designed for Global Market


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