Mind & Design


INTRODUCTION

When designing products, there is a need to consider the psychology aspect of the user, since it has a direct connection to emotions. When a product isn’t design properly and creates difficulty for the user, it can lead to frustration and irritation, instead of providing a pleasurable experience.

 

In today’s world there is a challenge when it comes to modern designs to young adults with mental illnesses, since studies have shown that the level of stress is higher, resulting in a higher number of young adults suffering from anxiety, depression and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). With this very serious and important information in mind, there should be a specific consideration when it comes to the nature of interaction between people and technology.

 

CHALLENGES & SOLUTIONS

 

With this knowledge in mind, the features of products should consider the challenges of young adults with mental illnesses from the very early stages of design. The design should offer alternatives that cater to the needs of this group, that makes them comfortable with using the product in a way that doesn’t result in more stress due to the frustration of unusable products.

 

For example, if we look at apps designs, to be successful when it comes to using human psychology as an asset to stand out, they need to be simple and organized, with a safety net, so young adults that suffer with anxiety and depression don’t feel the need to punish themselves when making a mistake. They shouldn’t be reminded that, due to poor design, they weren’t able to use the app properly and they can fall in a dark place, because they will blame themselves and not the design itself.

 

A successful product design for these vulnerable users should be a channel of support, meaning the product should be designed to make the lives of young adults with mental illnesses easier, providing them with the chance to use products that they might have considered triggering in the past. For example, when users have anxiety to call customer support with doubts about the product, there should be an alternative, such as the possibility to text their concerns, or even do it anonymously.

 

The knowledge of human psychology shouldn’t just be used for technological products such as apps, products that are part of our daily lives should also consider the known stressors and avoid them. Frustration and irritability can be considered a normal human response, but when users are more vulnerable or have a deeper emotional response to the usability of products, the design has a bigger responsibility to keep that in mind in order to become successful. The human psychology can offer endless knowledge about how designs can be more successful, but it’s also important to keep in mind that it is not possible to create a design that will cater to 100% of the users needs.

 

The design should focus on an aspect of human psychology and invest in it to make it proper for the usage by a specific community. In this blog post the focus was based on the community of young adults that suffer from certain mental illnesses that are getting more common due to the stressors of our daily lives. If designers keep that in mind, they will be helping not only the general community – since a good design consists on pleasurable product usage – but also take a step ahead into the future by tackling issues that other designs lack.

 

REFERENCES:

(DOET) Norman, D. (2013). The Design of Everyday Things:
Revised and Expanded Edition. New York, NY: Basic Books

 

https://monzo.com/blog/2017/01/27/designing-product-mental-health-mind/

 

https://www.fastcodesign.com/3057872/designing-an-app-for-people-with-severe-mental-illness

 

https://www.dualdiagnosis.org/mental-health-and-addiction/common-young-adults/

 

 

Design Critique: “Ringly” (Device and App)

Ringly is a smart ring created with the purpose of helping women lead a healthier and more balanced lifestyle, combining innovative technology with well crafted jewelry. The device consists on a ring with a sensor that is paired with the Ringly app on the user’s phone, allowing the notification of mobile alerts without the need to look at the phone as well as tracking the user’s physical activity throughout the day.

DESIGN + SYSTEM

Ringly was designed as a stylish ring, where beauty meets technology, by combining a piece of jewelry with a light and vibration system, as well as a sensor that exchanges and receives information to and from the Ringly App. The device allows the user to stay connected with mobile alerts without having to resort to the phone itself, by flashing a light installed on the side of the ring as well as vibrating every time there is an action on the phone (such as a phone call, text messages, emails and social media notifications). That is made possible by Bluetooth technology that syncs the ring with an app that allows the user to customize the notifications received, as well as offers a customized section on the app for the user to record physical data (such as weight and height) and set a specific fitness goal by tracking daily steps.

According to Norman’s principle of Discoverability, both the device and the app follow through with the design by being simple, straight forward and clear on what it can do as well as being easy for the user to figure out how everything operates (e.g. through a “help session” with step to step guidance on the app).

These allow for a positive user experience when it comes to psychological and emotional responses, such as the anxiety to leave the phone away and miss important phone calls and emails, and the possibility to stay discreetly connected in places where phones are not allowed. This peace of mind is possible by allowing the user to stay focused on the environment and only checking the phone when it’s urgent (there is a customized setting experience for the user to choose what notifications should be displayed on the ring).

The designs also offer good mapping by linking what the user wants to do, with what it is perceived as possible, for example, by linking which color flashes on the ring with the colors available on the app, arranging the controls on the app to properly control the ring. Also, the outcomes are predictable and are not deceiving to the user, by clearly suggesting what the object does and doesn’t do, based on some of the constrains attached to it.

The first couple of constraints are physical and digital, since the user can only choose from 5 available colors, minimizing the options of the number of notifications with one specific color, as well as the necessity to keep the phone in a certain range not to lose the Bluetooth connectivity. Another constrain that can directly affect the user’s psychological is the fact that, even though there are customized settings, the user can connect a light color with an alert, but it doesn’t tells who is that alert from, which can play against the peace of mind state, by generating anxiety due to the fact that the user knows there is an incoming action but doesn’t know who is it from or can’t look at the phone depending on the environment.

GOALS AND SUCCESS

One of the goals is to give a solution through a root cause analysis, in this case, the fact that technology doesn’t blend seamlessly, not being elegant nor discreet, becoming wearable on a daily basis (by being tech without looking tech, like Norman said on one of his TED talks, the engineering is simply not enough, there is the necessity of good design also).

Before design could only be considered for usability, but now it needs to be attractive, efficient and durable (in the case of Ringly, it has a long battery life and it is also water resistant, while maintaining a modern design). Ringly is responsible for innovational design by enhancing already existent products, but introducing a new category in the market place (by adding only a small piece on the device that flashes colors and it’s visible).

Ringly is also very successful when it comes to feedback and visibility, achieving good conceptual model. It allows the crucial parts of the ring to be visible, making it easier for the user to determine possible actions, which allows for natural mappings (between the information that is visible and the interpretation of the system). The feedback is also instant and delayed. The instant is the vibration and color flashing on the ring, so the user knows that it is working properly, knowing what happened. The delayed feedback is to check the physical activity progress, the user need to open the app and use the phone.

This delayed feedback can result as a subgoal, as Norman brings to attention when he explains the 7 Stages of Action, where there is a main goal (in this case achieve the daily steps) and to reach that goal the user starts planning the necessary actions on how to be more active (by exercising, for example) to achieve that one main goal. Ringly allows the user to execute and evaluate the results by being always connected.

Lastly, Ringly bridges the Gulfs of Execution and Evaluation by being user centered, where the system have actions that match the user’s intent, but it doesn’t take away the control of the user. The user chooses where and when to use it, the user chooses to personalize the colors and the notifications they are attached to and let’s the user set their own personal goal. Overall Ringly designs on both the app and the device are successful for being able to handle a lot of information and control it with more ease.