Abstract

This paper presents an empirical study into product form perception within the context of communication. The study was driven by the main research question; ‘do users perceive the same meaning from product appearance as designers intended, or is there a level of mismatch?’ The emphasis is on meanings attributed to the visual domain of product form, and more specifically the degree of correspondence between messages designers intend users to receive and the messages that users actually construct. An empirical approach is taken to contribute to the field, which is presently dominated by well-founded, but theoretical, discussions. From the literature, four categories of appearance-based product attributes are identified: 1) social values and positions; 2) usability and interaction; 3) visual qualities; and 4) personality characteristics. The fieldwork was conducted using newly designed Turkish seating furniture (n=8). A combination of visual stimuli and semantic differential methods were used, generated from research sessions with the original designers of the furniture (n=8) and representatives of their target user group (n=80). The results revealed that although the summed overall impression is close to designers’ intentions, there also exist some considerable differences between designers’ intended messages and users’ perceived messages. Designers perform less well at communicating product meanings related to: usability and interaction, and personality characteristics. Accordingly, these are identified as priority areas for improved message transmission.

Keywords

industrial design, aesthetics, user-centered design, perception

COinS
 
Jul 1st, 12:00 AM

Comparison of Designers’ Intended Messages and Users’ Constructed Messages Communicated through Visual Qualities of Furniture

This paper presents an empirical study into product form perception within the context of communication. The study was driven by the main research question; ‘do users perceive the same meaning from product appearance as designers intended, or is there a level of mismatch?’ The emphasis is on meanings attributed to the visual domain of product form, and more specifically the degree of correspondence between messages designers intend users to receive and the messages that users actually construct. An empirical approach is taken to contribute to the field, which is presently dominated by well-founded, but theoretical, discussions. From the literature, four categories of appearance-based product attributes are identified: 1) social values and positions; 2) usability and interaction; 3) visual qualities; and 4) personality characteristics. The fieldwork was conducted using newly designed Turkish seating furniture (n=8). A combination of visual stimuli and semantic differential methods were used, generated from research sessions with the original designers of the furniture (n=8) and representatives of their target user group (n=80). The results revealed that although the summed overall impression is close to designers’ intentions, there also exist some considerable differences between designers’ intended messages and users’ perceived messages. Designers perform less well at communicating product meanings related to: usability and interaction, and personality characteristics. Accordingly, these are identified as priority areas for improved message transmission.

 

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