August 9, 2007

What is Emotional Ergonomics?

Emotional ergonomics can be perceived in two ways

1) It is commonly thought of as how companies design tasks and work areas to maximize the efficiency and quality of their employees’ work. International Ergonomics Association has divided ergonomics broadly into three domains: Physical ergonomics Cognitive Ergonomics and Organizational Ergonomics.

2) It is also perceived as a field concerned with the emotional aspects of peoples’ interactions with products, services or systems.

Being from a Product Management background, I will try to elaborate more on the Product Design aspect of Emotional Ergonomics.

It is said that we respond to an object according to how we feel, not how we think. Often consumers perceive an object to be emotionally better even if your body or society doesn't. Thus it is recognized as the study of perceived comfort or convince. An example is slouching. This is common in everyone's sitting at some part in the day, we know it’s not good for posture yet it’s emotionally satisfying.

We as human before we think anything, we feel it, even if it is an online shopping site. Thus how a product engages with us emotionally is as important as how well it performs mechanically, otherwise all our choices would be based strictly on price and functional efficiency, rather than emotional resonance and visceral appeal.

Product functionality is crucial for product success, the appearance, use of materials; shape and form provide the most immediate product data for the user. But less tangible issues such as emotional bonding of users with products, cultural perceptions and social value systems, provide valuable insights for the product developer to help expand knowledge and understanding of the users' need beyond the functional requirements. Knowledge of emotional ergonomics is important if you want to build customer loyalty and charge premium prices.

Simple methodologies such as watching people use products, organizing focus group sessions, and focusing on the application rather than the delivery method, would ultimately produce objects more relevant to users’ needs.

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