Tag Archive for emotional reaction

Perception of Value is Situational

When you make pancakes, do you want them perfect? Perfect in taste? Perfect in texture? Perfect in shape? Who wouldn’t, right? When I cook, I want my creations to be pleasing to my audience (usually my family). Even on cooking shows, there’s a segment which helps home cooks make their creations look more professional — i.e. more perfect. As I was looking to buy a crepe-maker (non-electric), I read a bunch of reviews for all kinds of gadgets that promised a perfect crepe. One of the important criteria was the perfection of shape — a good crepe is circular, implying that a badly made crepe has irregular borders. There were all kids of clever inventions that helped the home cook achieve this circular perfection — molds, rakes, squeeze bottles, etc. At the end of my research, I got it — my crepes better be circular! But in others circumstances, this perfection of shape has a complete opposite perception of value. If you are buying frozen, pre-made crepes, then perfectly circular shapes signals “factory-made” or “made by robots” or “cookie-cutter crepes”. All of these are now derogatory things — who would want to eat crepes made by a machine? Untouched by…

Matters of Trust

call center experience

In the last few months I’ve started several new relationships. One was with BlueShiled of California — a relationship that was forced on me by the changing health insurance laws. The other came about from trying to find a place to stay in United Kingdom for our family vacation. I didn’t actively want these relationships, but here I am. And I am not very happy. The basic problem comes from the flow of trust. I’ve never heard of anyone else talk about the directionally of trust, but it is a very important concept to understand for any customer service oriented company. I will illustrate the idea using my new relationships. BlueShield Customer Service Failure! Let me start by saying that I wasn’t overly fond of my previous insurance company. In fact, that relationship was very much like this new one with BlueShield — antagonistic. My story begins in October of 2013, when I created a spreadsheet of all my family doctors versus possible new health insurance companies. I wanted to make sure that which ever insurance I picked, my family doctors would take it. I spent the afternoon making phones calls and ended up with BlueShield of California as my…

Fashion and Interface Design

Fashion Design shows have started up again: Fall 2014. I confess to a guilty pleasure of paging through photo after photo of the latest styles. There is something like a cross between artistic exuberance and freak show, all rolled into one insane media blitz. How can one not look? But there’s more to my looking than pure perverse curiosity. It’s true, I don’t really care what men will be instructed to wear and to like in the next season (or women, for that matter). But I do look for trends and patterns. And I also find something akin to Interface Design sensibility in the fashion industry — which way are we heading? What will be the next thing? What are these designers trying to say with their work? Product Design and Fashion Conceptual Design: What is it? What does this piece of clothing design to do? Keep the person warm? Cool? Modest? Allow them to get a job? Which job? Convey their personality? Cover up scars? Reveal tattoos? Make a political statement? Be cheap? Show off wealth? Last a long time? Be practical? Protect from the elements? Arm against hostiles? Depending on the purpose, clothing can take very different forms.…

Language and Cultural Differences in Communication

Kulula Plane Decorations

Above is an example of Interface Design — Kulula Airlines decorates its planes in a very playful manner. Does this choice make you feel safer or more reticent to fly their planes? Well, that depends… Consider the FAA Passenger Briefing Guidelines: 14 CFR 91.519. Below are a few examples: § 91.519 Passenger briefing. (a) Before each takeoff the pilot in command of an airplane carrying passengers shall ensure that all passengers have been orally briefed on: Smoking. Each passenger shall be briefed on when, where, and under what conditions smoking is prohibited. This briefing shall include a statement, as appropriate, that the Federal Aviation Regulations require passenger compliance with lighted passenger information signs and no smoking placards, prohibit smoking in lavatories, and require compliance with crewmember instructions with regard to these items; Use of safety belts and shoulder harnesses. Each passenger shall be briefed on when, where, and under what conditions it is necessary to have his or her safety belt and, if installed, his or her shoulder harness fastened about him or her. This briefing shall include a statement, as appropriate, that Federal Aviation Regulations require passenger compliance with the lighted passenger sign and/or crewmember instructions with regard to…

The WHY Question

The “Why” questions are important part of design: Why are we building this product? Why would users want it? Why us? Why now? Why this technology? The value of any question asked during the design process is in how the answer to that question helps advance the project; or help the design group bond; or reveal a significant insight into the problem that the group is trying to solve; or help clarify the use scenario; etc. All such questions are about moving the project forward. But it is easy to get sidetracked here, and I saw just that at the NIH biomedical research design brainstorming meeting. Before I proceed, let me describe a bit of background research and give a concrete example when the wrong answer to the Why question jeopardizes the design solution. About ten years ago now, we were asked to design a set education materials for the San Francisco Zoo. The problem was lack of structure for school visits. San Francisco public schools allow all elementary school children to visit the city zoo once a year. That’s a lot of school children…and a lot of visits per kid. But do these students learn anything during these visits?…

Do you remember Gardol?

Colgate Gardol Ad

Do you know what Gardol is? Unless you are close to retiring, probably not… So here’s a bit of background: Gardol is sodium lauroyl sarcosinate — not a very harmonious sounding chemical. I’m guessing Gardol was a clever marketing trick of combining the words “Guard” and “All”, relying on the phonetic combination to drive home the idea of protective quality of this chemical compound. In our society, chemicals don’t sell — we have an aversion to chemicals, we only want natural products! The common Western p-prim (or folksy wisdom) is that chemical are bad for us, and products created from natural ingredients are good for us … never mind arsenic! Gardol might have disappeared from the drug store ads, but the chemical sodium lauroyl sarcosinate didn’t — today it goes by the name “Advance White” and is part of a very well respected for its natural and health-consious products, Arm & Hammer toothpaste! Oh, and we don’t like the word “dental cream” — it’s toothpaste now…