The three pleasures of life

in Interaction design

Designing for people’s core needs, their long-term life goals and aspirations, creates lasting value. Professor Marc Hassenzahl in Germany, has done some great research into what makes great user experiences.

He defines three types of pleasure that products can give:

  1. Stimulation – personal growth, enriching your knowledge, and developing your skills.
  2. Identification – self-expression, a sense of belonging, recognition, and interacting with others.
  3. Evocation – memories and self-maintenance.

These are fundamental human needs. They go beyond the temporary interaction with a particular product. For example, browsing through the photos sent from a distant relative might keep you smiling long after you’ve left your computer.

Or consider the mobile phone. As Don Norman points out in his book, Emotional Design, the clunky interfaces on many mobiles create little emotional attachment – people seem happy to change their phones quite frequently.

But mobile phones result in huge Identification pleasures. SMS (text) messaging allows friends and family to interact quickly and without the ritual of longer, more formal conversations. Messages say, Hi I’m here, I was thinking of you, Here’s a joke, I just had a thought… It’s easy to take this informal communication for granted, but it’s essential for maintaining close relationships with our loved ones, recognsing them, and expressing oneself.

The experience of typing an SMS message might be clunky, inefficient and error-prone, but the pleasure it brings to people’s lives is enormous. When designing a system you should aim to tap into the above list of pleasures.

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