August 25, 2020

Factors of UX Design: Desirable

User experience design is about creating the ideal encounter for the customer or visitor while using a product or service. The term is mainly used in relation to digital experiences, including websites, software, and mobile apps, but can also apply to the remote control to your TV, the control pad on your microwave, and the process you go through to return an item to a store.

User experience design can be described by seven factors, according to Peter Morville:

  • Useful: Do the content and function fulfill a need for the user?
  • Usable: Is the product or service easy to use?
  • Findable: Are the content and function navigable and locatable within the product?
  • Credible: Do users trust the content and function of the product or service?
  • Desirable: Do users appreciate the content and function of the product or service?
  • Accessible: Can users of all abilities access and use all content and function?
  • Valuable: Is the content and function of considerable use, service, or importance to the user and the business?

In my next seven blog posts, I'll be doing a deeper dive into each of these factors that shape the user experience. Today's post is the second in the series and is about the desirability of an experience.

In the first post of this series, I described the meaning of useful as capable of being put to use, serviceable for an end or purpose. While desirable can be defined as something that is wanted or wished for. In short, a user experience is 

  • Useful:  when it solves a problem
  • Desirable: when the user prefers this experience over other experiences

Desirability is a key part of the user experience. It can enable products to succeed in a crowded marketplace. Desirability can be an incredibly important market differentiator between nearly identical products. Think of desirability as an extra attribute that goes beyond the bare minimum, which makes the user want to keep using your product.

But what makes a website, mobile app, or really any other type of product desirable? What are some product characteristics that provide the user with an enjoyable experience while using your product?

One characteristic is beauty. If a product is more beautiful than another product but has all the other factors the same, users are more likely to desire the product and to use it more.

Another characteristic is to tap into the user's emotions (emotional design). If an experience creates an emotional bond with the user, that bond will compel them to keep using the product because it offers them pleasure, which is a reward in and of itself. There are many design decisions that go into emotional design, including:

  1. The product has a unique personality.
  2. The product is a character (Siri, Google, etc.).
  3. The product offers a personalized experience.
  4. The product pays close attention to detail.

Don Norman explained in his book, emotional design creates products that people buy to make them feel good about themselves. Our emotions are very closely connected with desirability.

Another characteristic that affects the desirability of a product is status. Professor Steven Reiss has proposed a theory that finds 16 basic desires that guide nearly all human behavior. One of these basic desires is the desire for status or the need for social standing/importance. Examples of this would be iPhones and Apple Watches. When you own and use an Apple product, you're in "the club" and it reflects on your status to those around you.

A funny thing about the desirability or the love a user may have for a particular product is that they are more likely to forgive shortcomings and ignore mistakes. Users are able to overlook these deficiencies in favor of the qualities they adore because of their emotional attachment to the product or service.

Are you planning on designing a new website or mobile app? I can help! Please contact me to get the conversation started on how we can serve your customers.

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