Designing Intangibles

#intangibles

Design is not just about the physical product rather it's about how this product affects any user. Hence, only tangible design attributes cannot guarantee the success of any product, it requires the understanding of intangible attributes and as tangible attributes are easier to replicate and recreate, it is the intangible ones which make all the difference. Here, Cognitive Psychology can help us. It deals with hidden consumer behaviors at each and every stage and also illuminates the understanding of that intangible part. The issue I want to address is again a simple and obvious one but it requires deep understanding of product-user relationship.

Consumer Issue
‘Majority of Indian female users are reluctant to use tyre inflating tools (such as hand pump, foot pump, electric air pump for car/bike/bicycle etc.)’.

Although, there are significant number of women drivers in India, female users are still not ready to accept the product or use the product. The issue creates an opportunity for design to intervene and enhance the user experience of the product for female user, resulting in higher acceptance rate of this category of product.

The way, in which cognitive psychology is playing the part to come up with a better solution, is crucial. From product design point of view, the product can be tailor-fitted according to anthropometric data of average woman and all the functional values can be varied according to the female user so that it would be easier to perform the same action for female user, resulting in better comfort level. But this issue cannot be solved completely with the above mentioned inputs as it lacks the human-centric approach. The issue can be analysed much deeper. After understanding the issue, problems can be generally classified into four broad psychological terms according to the process of inflating a Tyre: Perception, Attention, Memory and Decision Making. Perception is the preconceived notion that one carries while thinking about purchasing or using the product. This factor has actually nothing to do with the actual product or outlook; it is the already set theories in our minds that subconsciously decide the attraction for the consumers. In this case, this theories work against the product, as according to general perception, most of the female user perceive that it is inappropriate to use the product and also consider themselves physically weak to perform the specific operation, which is not the actual case for most of the female. In fact, the product is designed considering the all the user group and their physical strength level. Hence, perception forms the initial resistance for female users to accept the product. Second term is Attention. Attention in psychology is a debatable term. It is the unknown reason behind varied response of the same stimuli. In our case, attention can be used to attract the user as the product is not specially designed to be more pleasant for female user. Hence, design the product in such a way that will induce the liking for the female user on a psychological level. The very interesting term, which we can use to our advantage is, Memory. Human minds have majorly two kinds of memory- long-term and working memory. Memory can solve the problems of first time user. New users require some amount of operation time to become dexterous in that process. With the help of memory, we can solve the issue. Human mind stores the methods to do daily activities without thinking extensively. One needs to think in a new direction when one encounters new device or process, resulting in initial time lag for new customers to be comfortable with this device. To address this problem, we can use the daily activity memory registered in one’s brain to simplify the operation. It means that instead of having a new action (up-down, pumping, handling etc.), we can take reference from daily life activity and imitate that process action to our advantage. Next term, for understanding the female consumer behavior approach is, Decision Making. Decision Making can be used at two areas-first for the new user, at the time of purchasing and the second is at the time of using one equipment when she already has a choice of two more equipment for the same task ( such as using hand pump or foot pump). In our case, we will focus mainly on the second type of decision-making as it is more relevant to the issue statement.

After analyzing each and every aspect in terms of consumer behaviorism, we can have an accumulated data of psychological behavior in relation with different problems. Applying cognitive psychology theories, one can start to evaluate the problems and generate the solution. For example, new user can be attracted to a product if we try to solve psychological barrier and make user try that product comfortably. There are plenty of examples where product is good but it is not well accepted by the market even if the market research as strong for that product. These products fail because of supposedly unknown factors. Hence, good product design also needs better psychological inputs in order to be a great product. People will not actually be able to know whether the product is good or not if one never tries it.  So design can only bear its fruit when cognitive psychology works positively for that product. The role of cognitive psychology needs to be underlined in design process.

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