Questions that Shape



Working on the design of the experience management software has reaffirmed that everyone interacts and cares about design. Don’t think it’s important? Let me tell you, everyone cares, and here’s my story to illustrate that everyone cares. My friend had just bought a house in Canada, and there was a kitchen switch and the bathroom right next to each other. However the electrician had wired the wrong switches so the switch closest to the bathroom was actually the kitchen, and the kitchen button closest to the bathroom. The electrician was to come back the following week to fix, but all night the poor design had people baffled. People would wait for the bathroom light to turn on and it wouldn’t. Then when they came out of the bathroom they would turn off the kitchen light. The switches worked, but the design was poor. Insight managers can learn a lot from the questions that influence good design, and could in fact influence good research.

One of the greatest product designers ever was Dieter Rams. He had specific questions that he continuously asked himself to encourage growth in his field. You may not have heard of Dieter Rams but I am sure if you are over the age of 40 you have used many of his Braun consumer products he helped design. Close to 50 years ago at the onset of his career he had one question that he was continually searching the answer for, “Is my design a good design?” As he sought to answer his question, he came up with 10 principles of good design. These principles are still as valid today as when he wrote them.

According to Dieter Rams, good design:

  1. Is innovative

  2. Makes a product useful

  3. Is aesthetic

  4. Makes a product understandable

  5. Is unobtrusive

  6. Is honest

  7. Is long-lasting

  8. Is thorough down to the last detail

  9. Is environmentally friendly

  10. Involves as little design as possible

A product is made useful through good design. A product is bought to be used, but there are other aspects that influence the purchase and enjoyment of the product beyond usefulness. A well designed product has to satisfy certain criteria beyond function, including psychological and aesthetics. Good design makes a product useful. A product is bought to be used. It has to satisfy certain criteria, not only functional, but also psychological and aesthetic. Good design highlights the usefulness of a product while eliminating anything else that emphasizes the usefulness of a product while keeping anything from detracting it’s usefulness. These questions that influence design should also be asked by market researchers as they seek to understand the customers experience with a product.

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