Emotional design and mobile devices

Now that would be a great blog entry ... how emotional design and mobile devices overlap ... maybe next time, but for now they are two different questions.

Emotional Design

First, a couple weeks back, I asked What design has strongly resonated with you emotionally?... but I didn't get a lot of responses to that question, so I'm asking again now: "What design has strongly resonated with you emotionally?" It could be a car, a light fixture, a cabinet pull, the architecture of a building, or in my case a kitchen faucet.

Another example from my life is when we visited Barcelona, Spain. The pictures of Gaudi's architecture never did a thing for me ... but to stand inside an apartment building or on a rooftop that he designed or to walk around and inside the Sagrada Familia ... those were experiences with his design that cannot be captured in two dimensions. Of course, they can be, but they don't evoke the same emotional response from me as being right there inside of them. My last example (I promise) is a vase that I own. It's a replica of the vase that inspired Keats' poem, Ode on a Grecian Urn, and the moment I saw it, I knew I had to have it ... it's not even a particularly lovely vase, but it generated an emotional response in me that I couldn't ignore.

So here's what I'm asking: send me an email (jenm at sun dot com) and tell me what design resonated with you, and yes, my stash of Sun swag (coffee mugs, travel bags, hats, desk sets, and more!) is up for grabs -- in return for my favorite responses.

Mobile Devices

Then, last Friday, I asked, When you dream of the mobile device that you wish you had, how is it different from what is available now? Thankfully, I received a tremendous response to that question. Far too much to tell you about here; I'll have to give a presentation to cover all that data :) But many people have asked, so I'll happily summarize some of the trends that I saw in the responses:

  • People most frequently asked for a good navigation system on their portable device -- after all, it's a mobile device, so you are likely away from any system that could give you real time map data.
  • Next, people wanted their address books on their mobile device to either sync with their partner's address book (on another device) or not be located on the device at all, but somewhere on the web.
  • There was little agreement regarding the size and weight of the mobile device, but they all fit into the range of smaller and lighter than a laptop computer.
  • There were several people who expressed that they only wanted their mobile phone to be a phone, and to function well -- but they were far outnumbered by those of us who would like our mobile device to do more and be more.
  • People who were avid cyclists not only wanted the phone to go with them on their journeys, but to track their time and distance, their vital signs, be the bike computer, and to use that data to compete with other people at a distance.
  • Not surprisingly, other frequently requested features included seamless integration with WiFi and Bluetooth, removable memory chips, large screens (or the ability to project large), and bigger QWERTY keyboards. People wanted to used a stylus to write, not to type.
Mostly those are the trends, but there were a ton of both incremental and large-scale suggestions. I'm going to have to write that talk, aren't I?

Jen McGinn is an interaction designer in xDesign who is working to improve the user experience with software installation and registration. She has an MS in Human Factors in Information Design and works out of Sun's campus in Massachusetts.

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