Saturday, July 03, 2004

Emotional Design in Information Architecture?

Right now I'm about half way through the book Emotional Design: Why We Love (or Hate) Everyday Things by Donald Norman. From what I can gather, the book is a response to some negative feedback that he recieved from his earlier book The Design of Everyday Things. A compelling point that Norman makes is that beautiful and well made products actually do work better because it means that the person using the product is more likely to be happy. A happy user is more likely to be solution oriented and is generally more receptive... therefore, more likely to have success with the product. This, in turn, means that the product overall works better because of it's abilty to deliver more successful uses.


As I was going through the "Guide to the internet" in our reading in Information Anxiety, I was amazed at how such a complicated subject was explained in such a simple way (I know, obviously- that's the point)... but then I got to thinking. I *know* that understanding how the Internet works is complicated, yet the presentation of the material put me at ease, as if to say "Don't worry, I'm only telling you what you need to know in order to understand this." The feeling that came over me was not unlike what Norman decribes in Emotional Design. Helpful graphics, size and weight of font, and general organization became as emotional and therefore as helpful high quality materials used on a phyical product.


I guess what I am suggesting is... when information is displayed correctly, it can be somewhat empowering for the person that endeavors to understand it. Jon said in class that the more he learns about Information Architecture, the more that he thinks that it is really a study of linguistics. I think that point runs deeper that I can understand at this point, but I will say that words can be devisive, meaning... the words that people use to explain things can make you feel stupid or inferior. The emotional qualities of good Information Architecture might just be empowering to the point that it makes you feel more smart than you actually are. As a result, one might be able to understand information better by being more *confident* in their ability to understand.

2 Comments:

Blogger Ashton Peters said...

Stephanie I think you're defintely right. In fact I was thinking along those lines tonight, but you put it into a complete thought. As I was working on this project I found myself throwing out all of the funky "proper" terminology for defining baseball terms ie: "when a player is 'retired'..." --Boo!..retired..who says that?! I kept thinking in the back of my mind - this is why I'm reading everything twice, because they use these proper filler words. It became very clear to me that, like Jon says, linguistics are incredibly important. It all comes back to who the user is as well, because who we are targeting is who we are SPEAKING to.

July 4, 2004 at 1:24 AM  
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