Saturday, 26 December 2009

Suspend Adverts for Christmas!!

Meal over, presents played out to death, jigsaw pieces missing and enough of the groans of family members biting their tongues to say what they REALLY think. The only thing that waits is the saviour - the TV. 

A wonderful invention that can (or should be able to) capture us all and take us away from' oUr HEaDs'. Especaily at Christmas the wonderful people at the BBC, Channel4, Sky etc treat us all with endless amounts of obscure (or should we say lame) Christmas films. This isn't even the problem, it's not what we are watching, it's the time in between these programmes that are brutal. The reason we put on the TV was not actually to watch a paryicular programme or film, it was to escape the stomach ache from too many brussel sprouts and moans from the gran how we look alot 'fuller' than the last time they saw us. Escape. But how can we do such a thing when every 9-11 minutes there is a break in the programme and we are subject to adverts for DFS boxing day sales and how Next opens at 6am today. Just what we wanted! This brings the akward conversation back to the messy living room where we have to drown out the cringy advert catchphrases. 

Yes, I'm being stereotypical, or just plain ignorant, but let's all agree on something, what kind of Christmas celebration is it when we can't even watch a film in peace?!

So next year, there should be a vote, a petetion signed, so these television producers suspend adverts, just for 1 day out of 365, so we can fully appriciate the joys of The Christmas Carol and Peter Pan in a relaxed,  peaceful environment for you, me and Granny Grumps.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

To Bus or not to Bus?

I previously wrote about my experience in London on Black Friday last week and how it was littered with money machines. Now on this news this evening was the talk of buses in London and how they are the 'ones' littering Oxford Street. It was said that the average us has only 10 travellers riding, 1/3 of buses travelling along Britain's busiest shopping street have only 5 people on them! This is considering that 367 pass Oxford Circus every hour! (curtosy of BBC news). 

Are buses really needed in London? Considering it has the most efficient underground service in the world (New York is currently recruiting some planners of the London Underground to transform the New York Subway, which I can say was murder!), you would think that would be enough? Let's not forget it does have the 'Underground Art' scheme, and not forgetting the saxophone players taking the stage next to the ticket stand. But something would still be missing. We wouldnot be subject to Piccadilly Circuses flashing advertisements or the latest Selfridges, Debenhams and Harvey Nichols window displays each fighting to be top dog. 

Underground Map - Iconic Design first created in 1933.

No, I believe you could never get rid of the famous red bus and black taxis that make up overground lanes. The Council has already cut the amount of buses by 10% to last year but looks as though it will carry on this. Will it go further? Will we soon be subject to the same histeria that the Edinbrugh Trams are creating?(not that is is not worth it). But in London...

Give your view on the image it presents for London, email;

Or Log on to the BBC website to see what others think.




Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Emotion patterns when buying a product

From the journal 'Emotion and Design: A Consumer Perspective' - This diagram shows the results from an experiment into how we feel after buying a certain product either for 'luxury' (hedonic) or 'need' (utilitarian)
(see blog below, assignment 4)

Chitturi, R. (2009). “Emotion and Design: A Consumer Perspective”,International Journal of Design, 3(2), 7-17

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

The Impact of Emotion on Design

Assignment 4 -

Comparing two sources, a journal and book, to show how emotion and behaviour  affects what we design, how we design and how the consumer reacts to the product.


Emotion and behaviour are fundamentally important to the designer, the design itself and the relationship between the consumer and product.  Investigating  ‘Emotional Design’ by Donald A. Norman has proven how our brain and personality affect how we design and react to it. Also a journal article ‘Emotions by Design: A Consumer Perspective’ written by Ritundra Chitturi which questions the emotions evoked in consumers when buy and use a product. Although both sources have similar attitudes to our emotional design experience, ‘Emotional Design’ provides more broad research from different sources and the journal proves good evidence and experiments to form a valid conclusion.


Donald A. Norman is a cognitive scientist and psychologist who teaches at North-western University. He has written many books on the design of products and consumers reactions including ‘The Design of Everyday Things’ and “Emotional Design’ which question two opposite concepts important to a designer – functionality and emotion.


‘Emotional Design’ is a thought-provoking book that argues everyday products work better when they look better - a good argument from someone previously known to suggest function is the true element to a good product (Norman, A, 2004). He also explores why we buy what we buy and how it affects us. Alongside Andrew Ortony and William Revelle, Norman comes up with the theory our brain has three levels which result in our actions and attitudes (pg 21). These are the visceral level which deals with our everyday experiences and emotion, the behavioural level being the way we use a product and how it works. The last is the reflective level includes the overall impression of a design. Being a valuable argument that has been scientifically proven encourages the reader to assume what Norman says to be true. This idea develops through research and example. He proves how different designs concentrate on stimulating specific parts of the brain to evoke specific emotions, for example his experiment ‘We are all Designers’ (pg. 213-218) asked people to describe their favourite design. The results were varied, some appealing to the visual (or visceral) brain which included items such as the Apollinairs mineral water bottle simply because ‘I thought it would look good on my shelves’ (Belanger, 2002).  This is enjoyable design which is used in advertising to create a visual immediate impact. If you design in this way it will always be attractive even if simple, and broadly speaking, universally accepted in all cultures. This is the difference between visceral design and reflective design which is about the meaning of a product not the aesthetic qualities it has. Reflective design is therefore different for different cultures and parts of the world. In ‘The Meaning of Things’ (Csikszentmihalyi, Rochberg-Halton, 1981) it is proven we are attached to things that have personal value which evokes strong emotion of reflection. These are objects that we may not have purchased but still mean more than money can buy despite the fact they may not be functional or even aesthetically pleasing. This advances Norman’s argument that emotion is a huge factor that influences what we buy and our relationship with our products and design companies. It has been said this relationship between human and product is the same as human to human (Fogg, 2002). In his journal ‘Persuasive Technology’, B. J. Fogg uses the example of us treating computers like humans or ‘social actors’ (Fogg, 2002), saying how we take out our anger and blame these inanimate objects. These feelings create our social interaction with our belongings which is what Norman believes to be most important to the success of a product. This is fundamentally what makes a design company succeed therefore has to be crucial not only throughout the design process but keeping this interactions alive for as long as needed.


Norman includes many evidence-based sources to prove the point of the importance of emotion to design from an unbiased perspective. He does not show sensitivity to his point as he states he only began to investigate emotional design after studying functionality of design previously, but now beginning to question that there is more. Interestingly he doesn’t state which he claims to be more important – function or emotion, so enables the reader to make his/her own opinion. This concludes his concept that emotion is a worthy goal of design.


Advancing on Norman’s understanding of emotion and design is the ideas of Ravindra Chitturi who wrote an article for the Journal of Design called ‘Emotions by Design: A Consumer Perspective’. This is good reading for design principals as it explains how different products, the usability of them and how it can evoke positive or negative emotions in the consumer. The main concepts of this article are that there are two kinds of benefit we buy for – hedonic benefits which is buying for luxury and the opposite which she calls utilitarian benefits which focuses on what we believe to be necessities or needs (Dhar and Wertenbroch, 2000) and (Okada, 2005). She goes into each in depth however does not question the point that some products are bought for both or that some are designed to appeal to both parts of our brain. Neither is there any research into products we do not buy but given as gifts or we inherit, find etc. The source is easily followed by the reader because it shows valuable research and explains clearly experiments she conducts to prove her argument.


It has been proven that customers experience negative emotions if they are ‘let down’ by their product if it fails to meet expectations (Mano and Oliver, 1993). Two studies that were conducted to prove this included a questionnaire, ‘Consumer Decision Making Questionnaire’ which looks into the emotions people feel after purchasing a product. Chitturi asked 240 students to asses the emotions they felt after the buying experience. Lookingat a product focused on creating ‘hedonic benefits’ the results showed that if the product met expectations the consumer would feel excited and delighted, but at the same time some amount of guilt was often evident. If the product failed however they would feel saddened and helpless (Frijda, 1986). This differed from the way consumers felt when they bought a utilitarian-focused product which proved evoked stronger feelings such as anger. This also lead to consumers complaining and sharing this anger with others (Chernev, 2004). These findings by Chitturi would be as it affects the way the customer will react, rate and fundamentally make or break a design company.


Chitturi argues the success of a product depends on the designers interest in what she calls the ‘prevention or promotion goals’ (Chitturi et al, 2007). Promotional goals are described as ‘looking cool’ or ‘being sophisticated’ (Higgins, 1997, 2001) and ‘prevention goals’ as ‘being responsible’.  She suggests that purchasing a product you believe you need is a ‘prevention goal’ that means if it works well it will prevent us experience negative emotion. Likewise if a product is bought as a luxury and meets expectations it will have succeeded its goal of promotion as we experience feelings of joy that we will share with others. This ultimately results in the success of a design. It also suggests that a product that concentrates on having hedonic benefits has more chance of succeeding than a utilitarian product because we are more likely to complain about a product we expect to be functional. Thus creates a negative opinion of the design through word of mouth etc. This, however, also means prevention goals are more important to the designer (Kivetz & Simonson, 2002). The affect this has on emotion and design is that what and why we buy will result in the relationship we have with the product itself. ‘Why We Buy’ by Palo Underhill goes further into this idea which I intend to research.


Although the paper is not very broad, for example looking into culture or specific peoples needs, it makes good research into emotional consumerism towards design as it has critical evidence from a series of psychologists and designers and provides interesting findings proving the argument Chitturi is putting across proving emotion and cognitive behaviour should be crucial when designers begin the design process and throughout to keep good customer loyalty which fundamentally a successful design.

Both ‘Emotions by Design: A Consumer Perspective’ and ‘Emotional Design’ provide similar arguments into the importance on emotions and it’s relationship with design. Chitturi however, focuses on in-depth research into specific consumer relations with their product whereas Norman speaks more broadly of product design in general, not just the way we buy. The sources agree that trust between consumer and product is essential as it is creates the interaction which evokes strong emotion. Both use the example of the design of a car and how we expect security such as airbags and locking systems, and if we are not supplied with these ‘necessities’ we feel angry and let down. Norman goes into this further than Chitturi, talking about the things we wantrather than need in aspects of car design too. He uses the example of a cup holder which was created as a prototype that proved successful. This quirky idea then exploded into the whole car industry. Now it has become what Chitturi would call a utilitarian benefit or a need. This, I suppose, is how something changes from a luxury to an expectation. If Chitturi had gone further into the design development this may have created intriguing avenues to explore. I intend to research into this by looking into the relationship between function and emotion in Norman’s book ‘The Design of Everyday Objects’. Another book that will enable me to do this is ‘Design and Emotion Moves’ which looks into the behavioural and emotional patterns of consumers and how it affects buying and owning products.


Another similarity is that the sources agree at our frustration when something that is meant to be functional doesn’t work and we blame the product itself, not the designer (Reeves & Nass, 1996). The journal article goes further by explaining the types of emotion we feel and express, which can often result in complaints and negative word of mouth epidemics. These are all contributing factors to why the consumer buys certain products weather it be for the attractiveness or the functionality or simply because it reminds you of something. Both sources by Norman and Chitturi bounce off one another with similar developing ideas and valid research to come to the conclusion that for whatever reason, emotion is vital to the design process and the relationship it develops with the consumer.



Chitturi, R. (2009). “Emotion and Design: A Consumer Perspective”, International Journal of Design, 3(2), 7-17.

Desmet, P, Van Erp, J, Karlsson, M. (2008). Design and Emotion Moves, Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.


Graying, A. C. (2002). The Meaning of Things, Pheonix: New Ed edition


Fogg, P. J. (2009). “The New Rules of Perusasion”. RSA Journal, 155 (5538), 24-29


Norman, D. (2002). Design of Everyday Things, New York: Basic Books


Norman, D. (2004). Emotional Design, New York: Basic Books.


Black Friday in London?! I don't think so.

Oxford Circus.

Regent Street.

Piccadilly Circus.

Leicester Square.

Covent Garden.

 Piccadilly Circus - London.

What do these six places have in common (apart from being in central London)? Shops. Consumers. Money. Advertising. A disgusting amount of people yearning to spend all the pennies they possess. Even on the day of the year we are supposed to spend NO MONEY!

This weekend I was in London. After spending a day at a funeral questioning life and how important people and happiness are, not possessions, I still managed to spend my only free couple of hours in Selfridges and Topshop London. You would think this may not have been the case after such an event but even I was sucked into the central cortex of shopping in Britain – Oxford Circus. With Arcadia shops taking over, the square is possessed by Topshop, Niketown, H&M, Starbucks and Harvey Nichols. Not to mention thousands of people queuing to buy Louis Vuitton handbags. Never had I seen the likes of this waiting in line to buy a £500 hangbag at 9pm even in Selfridges, especially considering the economic crisis we are supposed to be living in. AND this was the day after Thanksgiving aka Black Friday, aka people are not supposed to buy anything on this day! However in America I have been informed that is the biggest shopping day of the year…an excuse should we say?


A question popped into my head as I fought my way through the plastic bags and up the alley past the homeless men out of the Tube Station – how much more money does a shop make being at the epicentre of Oxford Circus rather than a few hundred metres down Oxford Street? I bet it’s definalty a significant amount, which I’m determined to find out! The amount of consumers in Topshop (in the centre of Oxford Circus) was about ten times the amount of the 2nd Topshop which is only just down the road. As if we didn’t already know, it shows where something is makes all the difference, and we don’t have any sympathy for special days obviously.

 Photo I took of Topshop, Oxford Circus

But…is this then the same for advertising? Just along Regent Street I come to Piccadilly Circus, Britain’s version of Broadway in New York. Coca-cola, McDonalds, L’Oreal and Maybelline are usual advertisers here with huge flight signs flashing violently covering the Victorian buildings surrounding them. But my question – is an advert more successful here or just back down the street in a calmer place where there aren’t others to steal your eye?

 Photo I took, Niketown, Oxford Circus

Do different things work better in different environments? Yes. But does it depend on the idea, or what you are trying to sell? I believe yes.


P.S. Obviously Black Friday does not exist in the centre of London!