Sunday, July 1, 2007

Happiness and design

It is all about creating products that people will love, or is it? Maybe it is about making products that make people happy. But what makes happiness or love? I would venture that products that show embedded intelligence and embedded emotions i.e. knows what you are trying to do / knows your business and lets you do hard things easily or in other words give you the surprise of Wow, that was easy, are good candidates. However, it takes more. It takes being able to make them yours and that can happen in many ways, like the VW beetle that you put flowers on or the piece of software that you can customize to work just the way you want. Emacs springs to mind.

I think love is secondary and not really the goal. KRS One said it very well so long ago "love is an overused word, love you car, love you watch. You should love yourself and other human beings, not things" (paraphrased). Things can make you happy though if they work for you, not against you. And if they are willing to become yours and help you express yourself. It is the combination of the value add/ signal value of a brand/product + what it actually lets you do to it. It is the "i am part of the Emacs tribe + I have mastered Emacs and it bids my will" or the "I am part of the Porsche tribe and I relax when I drive with the top down".

I am really just thinking out loud here, but I think that happiness is an achievable goal while love may not be. Or maybe it i, but with product love comes cult, and with cult comes elitism and it is hard to sell to everybody when you are an elite product. And yep, Apple makes elite products but they mainstream them. The Ipod is not an elite product, it is a commoner’s tool that makes happy, but not love.

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