How to translate insight into product design differently.

Translating useful information into actionable steps and valuable experiences through two simple considerations.

After talking to several Product designers, the problem of translation of insight into product design to create value and emotion seemed to be quite challenging, so I started to think about how to do this translation more effective by reflecting about my own process and making it conscious:

The first step to avoid this, is to link behavioral outcomes to product requirements and specific interactions. If you are making a banking app and one of the requirements is to show expenses more clearly, think about what would help users in your context, for example, if users are using installments and credit to make ends meet but then end up paying a lot of interests, what would help them change this habit? What would help them spend more wisely? The N26 banking app has this great interaction where you scroll and you see how your budget has been increasing or decreasing in time:

Anchoring is used here to clearly show changes in spending, while in most cases you have static purchases that don't directly link to your total available budget. With this simple movement, you can actually see when you start spending more by just scrolling up or down. Another bank that has done this successfully is Banco Santander, while using a different graphic and more static form but somewhat equally effective:

Phone screen showing a bank account with details of transactions, credit limit and total remaining budget to spend
Phone screen showing a bank account with details of transactions, credit limit and total remaining budget to spend

The bar on the top helps users quickly see if they are overspending or not. If we as designers lose ourselves in perfectly executed and beautiful UI but forget about behavioral changes we risk designing interactions that don't have an actual impact in peoples lives for the better.

2. While prototype testing, try to capture not only what happens on the screen but what happens out of it.

Emotional connection is key. Behind every design principle exists a connection to human nature and our emotional instincts. In fact, human nature is reflected in every aspect of design. In his book “Designing for Emotion”, Aarron Walter talks about taking usability a step further:

“Many websites and applications are creating an even better experience. They’re redrawing the hierarchy of needs to include a new top tier with pleasure, fun, joy, and delight. What if an interface could help you complete a critical task and put a smile on your face? Well, that would be powerful indeed!”

Bring emotions to the table, not only user needs focused on what didn't work. Needs are of course part of what we come looking for once we talk to our users, we try to understand their frictions and moments of enjoyment while using our product or service, but in many cases what the user actually experienced gets transformed too fast into a specific product requirement, and without much thought we lose what emotion we wanted to capture or produce while designing a specific interaction.

There are a few things we can we do to capture user’s off screen emotion/reactions better:

The first step to avoid this is to design your questionnaire/guide and include spaces to ask the person what she enjoyed and not just what caused friction. We usually tend to design for what we don't want to happen, and not what we would like to happen or feel.

Secondly, don't just focus on what happens within the product, your product will always be part of the story, ask what the person expects to happen before or after using your prototype: While finishing a task, does she expect to be contacted by a human being? Receive an automated email? A phone call? Never forget the service design aspect surrounding your product.

Set up a clear context of use for the platform/app. If the app is supposed to be used in a context of distress, try to create this condition and set the tone before the person uses the app. I know, it sounds hard to do, but if you are creating and app that is supposed to help people get the necessary data from someone after having a car crash to get their insurance and you are asking the person to take their time to test the app sitting on a chair your results won't be as reliable. What you can do in this case is, for example, put time constraints in a task, make the person test the app while moving around (probably if you had a car crash you can't just expect to be comfortably seated on a chair).

Link specific tasks to emotions. We usually tend to write down if the task could be completed or not and why, but now what the person felt while doing it rarely comes in the combo. Verbatim is key to be able to capture this information, not just a description of what happened. It's not the same thing for the client to read a quote like this: "I don't feel safe using whatsapp to contact you" than "The client didn't feel whatsapp was safe enough as a channel of communication with the business".

Emotional connection will always have a long lasting effect on our memory, strive to design for it!

Senior Strategic designer, passionate about design and creativity applied to Service Design, UX and Strategy. (Paris/Argentina)

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