A lot of people have Facebook accounts for at least one year. They keep logging into their own account everyday and the number of registered users is still increasing. At the same time, many netusers may also have the same experience that registering an beautiful attractive site, but with only a few later visiting. For the users, what they did are just the same Trial and Repeating using. However we can see that only a few sites could got the Reputation and the customer Loyalty. From the design perspective, this issue can might be explain as there were two kinds of feelings that the web designs would give to the users. The feelings of ‘fall in love at first sight’ and ‘feel like old friends’.
Every web designer and manager knows that beautiful graphic design is very useful for attracting people to have a look at their websites. Also, users may have good impression so that to visit the sites again because of some unique designs or functions. But does a beautiful design means everything of a good design? In the real world’s love stories, falling in love at first sight may not means forever.
Donald Norman once mentioned his three teapots with aesthetic design in his kitchen. All those three teapots that had aesthetic design always made him pleasant when brewing tea. Starting with the teapot using experience, Norman discussed much about the superiority of the thing that had attractive industrial design. But he also indicated that focusing only on good appearance is ‘the wrong lesson to learn from this essay.’ He thought usability is also importan. ‘There are many designers, many design schools, who cannot distinguish prettiness from usefulness… Good design means that beauty and usability are in balance.’
Yes, just like the users, we designers always ignore the usability at the beginning since we thought too much about how to attract people. ‘Color’, a web-based photo sharing app on iOS, might be a negative example. It got good promotion, cool features and beautiful design that better than Instagram. But it finally failed and had to re-designed to be a small video sharing app for Facebook. One of the reason is that, comparing to Instagram, some of Color’s sharing functions are quite complicated and some are just unnecessary, even they are cooler.
Feel like old friends
I have a friend who studied psychology. Every time when people ask him if he can ‘read’ their mind, he will play a classic trick that asking them to quickly thinking of a kind of carbonated drink, or sometimes a kind of fruit. After that he will say the thing is cola, or apple, that in the person’s mind. Of course his answer is always right. He said this phenomenon was caused by the things called archetypes that in human’s mind. In brief, our brain is keep classifying all the information that came into our memory. Then each classified category will be marked with an marker, that is, the archetype, which should be the most familiar or the most representative one in the category.
There are many kinds of user requirements when teams do analysis work. We sort requirements as different priority levels, since some of them are pointless or some of them cannot be done in planned schedule and man power. I think ‘making the product close to, or better than the archetype’ is one of the most core and essential user requirement, because meeting this requirement can give users a familiar feeling that like old friends of them. However this requirement is kind of a subconscious one in user’s mind, so that some designers and managements may miss it.
For some successful social network sites like Facebook, the way they implement social circle is making the site full fill with many kinds of convenient information interaction to satisfy users’ simple communication, sharing and gossip desire. Isn’t that the way we mostly familiar with?
For the site of our DMSP work, the archetype is just the reading experience. If we only focus on creating attractive things, like sounds and graphics, users may close the page since we provide a complicated text environment. So except integrating creative functions, our work should ensure that the text environment is convenient and secure as it on the paper. After all, to make users feel like the website is just a familiar book that belongs to them, not to make the site looks like a fashion magazine’s cover.
Many company promotes their beautiful website by advertising the highlight new features. But after you visiting those sites several times, the one that is easiest to understand will be your favorite.
 Norman, Donald. (2004) Attractive things work better. In Donald Norman (Editor), Emotional Design: Why we love (or hate) everyday things. Retrieved April 2012, from www.jnd.org/dn.mss/emotion_design_at.html