13 April 2006

Donald Norman on emotionally-centred design

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Yahoo! Maps
Web 2.0 is coming. Rich Internet applications (RIA) are here. Hurrah! The internet has caught up with the desktop, at long last. As a result, they provide some natural experiments in emotionally-attractive websites, allowing us to contrast the more traditional, static html page website with these more interactive, dynamic ones, where there are natural controls for information content, utility, and usability. So let’s see what we can learn from them. In this exploration, I concentrate on map websites because they provide the ingredients for appropriate comparisons.

We know how to make products that are easy to use and understand. But what about emotions? What about designs that delight? What do we know about how to produce an emotional impact?

Why are Google earth, Google maps (maps.google.com), the Beta version of Yahoo! maps (maps.yahoo.com/beta) and Microsoft’s Windows Live (local.live.com) so compelling, addictive, delightful? They provide the same information as the older, static maps from Yahoo!, MapQuest, MSN, and others, and the very same driving directions. They aren’t any more usable or easy to understand than the older, more static sites – some people have even found them more difficult, especially in their beta deployments. But they are more fun and engaging. What lessons can be learned from this?

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(via Usability in the News)

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