Don’t Mess With the Human X (perience)

keurigI am usually on time for things. Or, at least I try to be. But let’s face it, we all have those days where we are running late to class or an early meeting where you are running out the door. It is days like these where I need my Keurig to work. Sure, it’s a pretty machine that has become a hit worldwide due to its ability to make various flavors of coffees, teas, and more. However, according to Norman, attractive does not always mean practical. Due to my experience with this machine, I 100% agree with his statement.

On the days where I am running a tad bit late, I rush to fill up a mug with water, followed by selecting the tiny container of whatever style of drink I plan on drinking that day. Then, the problems start. On the mini Keurig shape located on the right of the device, a blue light goes off signaling that I didn’t put enough water in it. No, Keurig, I did put enough water in it, clearly. Then, once I add more water, another blue light comes on directing my attention to the coffee or tea container I chose, claiming that it is not in correctly, when in fact, it is, because I checked twice already. Finally, once I have probably already waited too long for a supposed “quick drink”, the red light finally clicks on and it starts brewing, making my only worry now how to get to class on time.

My frustration starts with my already Type-A personality where I have to get everywhere on time. This type of personality is not helped by devices that claim to be “easy” and “user-friendly”, when it creates frustration through repetitive symbols, discrete directions, and non-communicative pieces. I think Keurig can be improved by containing a small manual with large font and few steps to describe the process of making your drink. Let’s face it: no one reads the manuals anymore, so if you make it one sheet of directions with approachable or appealing colors and fonts, consumers will look at it before using the product. Along with this first solution, I think it would also be beneficial for Keurig products to anticipate the users’ reactions to the products beforehand. In other words, predict the processing that will occur while using the product.

Frustration is a great word to describe how I feel when I use the Keurig, but how does one get to that point? According to Norman, designers actually evaluate the three levels of processing, reflective, visceral, and behavioral, in order to make the best possible product. So, why are products such as the Keurig still difficult to use if there is physiological evidence behind every product? First, with behavioral processing, if you expect a positive result, you will receive one. The first time I used the Keurig, I was hopeful. Once I had a bad experience, however, I kept anticipating negative ones. This is the first problem Keurig has. If they can nip this in the bud, they will be golden.

But that’s not all; on the visceral level, where actions are completely subconscious, one can learn to do an action without even thinking about it. If I can’t learn how to do it the first time, how will I do it the second, third, and fourth time? I guess I’ll just be doing it wrong. And lastly, reflective processing, which involves emotion that is tightly intertwined with cognition, causes consumers to have a deep understanding of their decision making.

The levels of processing are all focused on by designers for one reason: it is all about the experience. The human experience is what makes all of the products we use what they are. If it weren’t for the intent to make every consumer have a good experience with products, we would be using non-memorable and invaluable items. I personally never knew how much thought about the human experience goes into the design of something, let alone a whole profession made from this.

Emotions: Who knew they played such a huge role in how we use the simplest of designs? Our ability to process information about anything involves subconscious actions that each of us do multiple times a day, as told by Norman. I can’t even begin to fathom how much we do this in one day. While I go ponder with that idea, I bet you will probably be engaging with a design of some sorts, so think about the levels of processing you are undergoing as you are doing just that.


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