CHAPTER THREE: Three Levels of Design: Visceral, Behavioral and Reflective

Café des Architectes in the Sofitel Hotel, Chicago:
There are many brands of bottled water, each with their own taste, price and bottle. But why is it that they all look different? Some are made from glass, some from plastic, some are yellow some are blue. Water is water, but designers and brand manager try to create is a emotional connection with the brand. Nowadays you pay for the design instead of the water, the reflective part of yourself comes in to play. Why would you pay for water that’s more expensive than gasoline?
The bottle of the water can play a big part in the memory`s you have of a specific moment. The design of the bottle gives a meaning on visceral level. All three levels play their part in creating a experience.

The amount of different design of water bottles and people keeping and refilling them, demonstrates that the entire success of the product lies in its package, not its content. à the design becomes the product.

Visceral design:
- Is what nature does
- Dominates physical features
- Has the same rules all over the world
- Is about initial reactions
- Can be studies quite simple by putting people in front of a design and waiting for reactions
- Requires the skills of the visual and graphic artist and the industrial engineer
- Is all about immediate emotional impact

Visceral is what nature does. We humans evolved to coexist in the environment of other humans, plants, landscapes, weather and other natural phenomena. As a result we are exquisitely tuned to receive powerful emotional signals from the environment that get interpreted automatically at the visceral level. When we perceive something as ‘pretty’, that judgment comes directly from the visceral level. We like bright colors, sweet tastes and symmetric forms because we were programmed to. In nature we find all these things in plants, trees and food. This is programmed in to all humans, but we also have our differences. Some cultures like big persons while the other culture likes thin figures. Visceral programmed likes and dislikes can be overcome by “training” or learned by culture.
(bitter tastes are viscerally disliked, but it is an ‘acquired taste’; people have had to learn to overcome their natural inclination to dislike them).
For example the taste of bitter fruits and the human preferences of the human body: we prefer faces and bodies that are symmetrical and this presumably reflects selection of the fittest; non-symmetrical bodies probably are the result of some deficiency in the genes or the maturation process. Humans select for size, color, and appearance, and what you are biologically disposed to think of as attractive derives from these considerations.

In the world of design, ‘pretty’ is generally frowned upon, denounced as petty, trite, or lacking depth and substance - but that is the designer’s reflective level speaking (clearly trying to overcome an immediate visceral attraction). Because designers want their colleagues t recognize them as imaginative, creative, and deep, making something ‘pretty’ or ‘cute’ or ‘fun’ is not well accepted. But there is a place for such things in our lives.

The principles underlying visceral design are wired in, consistent across people and cultures. If you design according to these rules, your design will always be attractive.
If you design for the sophisticated (the reflective level), your design can become dated because this level is sensitive to cultural differences, trends and fluctuation (slingeringen).

At the visceral level, physical features (look, feel, sound) dominate.
Example: a master chef concentrates on presentation, arranging food artfully. à good graphics, cleanliness, and beauty play a role.
Example: make a car door feel firm and produce a pleasant clunking sound as it closes.
Example: the exhaust sound of the Harley Davidson motorcycle à a unique, powerful rumble.

The visceral appearance works at best when people say ‘I want it’ first, then ‘what does it do?’ and then at last aks ‘what does it cost?’.

- Apple Computer found that when it introduces the colorful iMac, sales boomed, even though these iMacs contained the very same hardware and software as other models.
- Automobile designers count on visual design to rescue a company à Volkswagen reintroduced their ‘beetle’ design, Audi developed the TT and Chrysler brought out the PT Cruiser. à sales for all three climbed à it’s all in the appearance.

Shape and form matter, physical feel and texture matter, materials matter, heft matters.
This is a major role of ‘point of presence’, a store’s only chance of getting the customer, for many a product is only purchased on looks alone.

Behavioral design:
- Is all about use
- Is the aspect practitioners focus upon
- Function comes first
- Is to understand how people will use a product
- Applying user-centered design
- Human-centered, focusing upon understanding and satisfying the needs of the actual users
- Has to be a fundamental part of the design process

Appearance doesn’t really matter. Rationale doesn’t matter but performance does. What matters are 4 components of good behavioral design: Function, understandability, usability and physical feel (the sensual shower, fig. 3.3, p. 69)

A product must pass its very first behavioral test:
If a well-designer product misses the target when it comes to fulfilling its purpose, it deserves to fail: If a potato peeler doesn’t peel potatoes?

Getting the function right is tricky
à people’s needs are not as obvious as might be.
How do you discover a need that nobody yet knows about? Even with existing products, designers seldom watch their customers.
à they tend to keep to their desks, test their ideas out on one another, add new features but never study what tasks need to be supported.
The first step in behavioral design is to understand how people will use a product.

There are two design methods in behavioral design, enhancement and innovation. To enhance an existing design is easier than creating a new one, with a new one you get the chance to creating something new and try something new. You will never know how a user will react to a new behavioral design. You can test, and take interviews during the design process but you can never predict the outcome.

- Innovations are difficult to assess. Who would have thought we needed computers, mobile phones?
- After the product has been released and used, is the moment to say whether your innovative product has worked and was needed or not. You cannot evaluate an innovation by asking potential users.
- You have to imagine something they have no experience with.
- Predicting the popularity of a new product is almost impossible before the fact (even though it might seem obvious afterward)

Thomas Edison:
- Thought that the phonograph would eliminate the need for letters written on paper: business people would dictate their thoughts and mail the recordings. (fail)
The PC was so misunderstood, that several then-major computer manufacturers completely dismissed them.
The telephone was thought to be an instrument for business.
People have said they would really like some product that then failed on the market. And similarly, people have said they were not interested in some product that went on to become huge market success.

- Come primarily by watching people use what exists today, discovering difficulties and then overcome them
It can be more difficult to determine the real needs than might seem obvious
à people find it difficult t articulate their real problems. Even if they are aware of a problem, they don’t think about it as a design issue: à they just blame themselves. But these problems could be corrected by appropriate designers!
A key that doesn’t fit both ways
à a symmetrical key
Ever lock your car with the keys inside
à a car so that the key is required to lock the car
Ever put batteries into a product in the wrong orientation?

Example: Cup holders in cars
The innovation of cup holders in cars were instantly resisted by automobile manufacturers. Small manufacturers realized the need (probably because they had built them for themselves first). à first only simple stick-on holders or magnetic holders. They were so popular, manufacturers slowly started to add them as standard items. Nowadays, some people claim to have bought their car solely for its cup holder. Why not?
Though, German manufacturers resisted the cup holders, explaining that automobiles are for driving, not drinking. They reconsidered only when decreases in sales in the USA were attributed to the lack of cup holders. This is a good example of engineers and designers who believe they do not need to watch the people who use their products.

Herbst LaZar Bell:
- Had to redesign a floor cleaning machine. Observed maintenance workers in the middle of the night, and they discovered that workers had difficulty drinking coffee while manipulating the huge cleaning machines. As a result, they added cup holders. à it became a market success.
Herbst LaZar Bell is a good example of ‘understanding end-user unmet and unarticulated needs’.
ß that’s the design challenge: to discover needs that even the users cannot yet articulate.

How do you discover unarticulated needs? à Most people are unaware of their needs, so discovering them requires careful observations in their natural environment. The trained observer can spot difficulties and solutions that even the user does not consciously recognize. (‘oh you’re right, that’s a real pain, can you solve that?’).

- If you cannot understand a product, you cannot use it.
- ‘LEARN ONCE, REMEMBER FOREVER’ (design mantra)
- An important component of understanding is FEEDBACK.

Without understanding, people have no idea what to do when things go wrong. The secret to understanding is to establish a proper conceptual model:
There are 3 different mental images of any object:

- The designer’s model à the image in the head of the designer
- The user’s model à the image that the person using the device has of it and the way it works
- The system image à the image conveyed by the product and written material
In an ideal world, the designer’s model and the user’s model should be identical.
Designers can communicate with the eventual users only through the system image of a product. A good system image is a design that makes apparent its operation.
ß good conceptual design.
A product’s feedback must be consistent, and be effective, indicating precisely what is happening and what yet remains to be done. (when not
à lack of understanding à negative emotions kick in).


- A product that does what is required and in understandable, may still not be usable (guitars, pianos).
- Usage is the critical test of a product: it stands alone and all that matters is how well the product performs and how the user feels.
Universal design is a challenge, but one worth the effort.

Physical Feel
IDEO example:
- Industrial design company. Product: ‘Tech Box’: a big cabinet with an apparently endless set ofsmall drawers and boxes, loaded with an eclectic combination of toys, textures, knobs, clever mechanical mechanisms.
- One knob feels completely different from another knob, smooth and precise, and not so precise, and dead regions. à the same mechanism, the difference is the addition of a special, very viscous oil. à Feel matters!
Good designers worry a lot about the physical feel of their products.
à materials can make a huge difference in appreciation. Don’t move creations onto computer screens (virtual worlds): the best of products make full use of the interaction between the brain and the environment.
Tangibility: Physical objects have weight, texture and surface.
Virtual worlds eliminate the delights of real interaction. They are worlds of cognition: concepts without physical substance.
à too abstract.

Badly conceived behavioral design can lead to great frustration. There is no excuse, the fault lies within the design. Many designs fail because designers and engineers are often self-centered. They focus upon technology or sophisticated use of images or metaphors.
à it gets in the way of getting your job done.
The best way of discovering the user’s needs, is observation.
The fact that both visceral and behavioral reactions are subconscious makes us unaware of our true reactions and their causes.
The best products today from behavioral point of view, are those that come from sports of industries, because these products get designed and purchased and used by people who put behavior above everything else.

Hewlett Packard:
- Company, their main product was test equipment for electrical engineers
- ‘design for the person on the next bench’ was their motto and served it well
- HP products were a joy to use and fitted the task

Reflective design:
- Is all about the message, culture, the meaning of the product or its use
- Evoking personal remembrance
- Self-image
- All about long-term customer experience

We all worry about the image we present to others (or our self-image). You avoid things because ‘it wouldn’t be right’ or you buy things so support a cause you prefer.
ß reflective decisions!
- Two watches à one by ‘Time by Design’, exhibits reflective delight in using an unusual means to display time, that has to be explained to be used. It’s viscerally attractive. à it gives a reflective delight in showing off the watch and explaining its operation to people.
- The other watch, by Casio, a practical, sensible, plastic digital watch. It’s practical, it emphasizes the behavioral level. Not particularly attractive.
- Learning point: products can be more than the sum of the functions they perform. The real value can be in fulfilling people’s emotional needs and establishing one’s self-image.

- Watch company, transformed the Swiss watch making industry.
- They say they are not a watch company, but an emotions company. They transformed the purpose of a watch from timekeeping to emotion, a fashion statement.

Designer Del Coates:
- Explains in his book ‘Watches tell more than time’ that “it is impossible, in fact, to design a watch that tells only time. Knowing nothing more, the design of a watch alone – or of any product – can suggest assumptions about the age, gender, and outlook of the person who wears it” (p. 87).

Why are expensive things superior to inexpensive things, even when there is no difference? That is a cultural question. The answers are conventions (gewoontes), learned in whatever society you inhabit.
à that is the essence of reflective design: it is all in the mind of the beholder.

Attractiveness is visceral, beauty is reflective. It comes from conscious reflection and experience, knowledge, learning, culture.
Advertising works at the visceral and reflective level. Prestige, perceived rarity and exclusiveness work at the reflective level. (raise the price of Scotch and increase the sales. Make it difficult to get reservations to a restaurant, and increase their desirability.
ß reflective-level ploys (pogingen).

Reflective level operations often determine a person’s overall impression of a product. You think back, reflect upon its total appeal and experience of use.
ß many factors come into play and can outweigh one another.
Customers relationships play a major role at the reflective level, so much so that a good relationship can completely reverse an otherwise negative experience with the product. A company that helps disgruntled customers, can often make them more happy about the product than the people who have it as well but haven’t had any difficulties with it. They had a bad but then perfect experience with it. It is an expensive way (for the company) to win customers, but it shows the power of reflective level.

Reflective design is all about long-term customer experience. à it’s about service, providing and warm interaction.

Amusement parks have a good relation between reflection and reaction (visceral). The ride looks dangerous and scary, but the reflective level tells you that ‘it’s save, there is nothing going to happen’; it’s calming you down, whereas the visceral level is operating at full force. Here the visceral level wins, but afterwards the reflective level wins.
But once the reflective system fails, the appeal is apt to collapse as well.

Example of how the three different aspects of design can work well together:
Motorola Headset, designed by Walter Herbst (Herbst LaZar Bell):
- Walter: “the most difficult part about it, was making the coaches feel good about wearing it.” (p. 89)
- Motorola asked Walter to design a headset to be used by the coaches of the national Football League. They had to be highly functional, delivering intelligible messages between coaches and staff, scattered about the stadium; the microphone boom had to be movable to be placed on either side of the head; the headset had to be able to not break when thrown on the ground; it had to be an advertising symbol and the coaches have to be satisfied (comfortable).
- Design: small, lightweight, comfortable à not strong enough! à Coaches rejected them.
- The headset had to reinforce the image of muscular men in team sports (so it had to have visceral appeal, and meet the behavioral objectives ánd satisfying the coaches).
- “The main goal in designing the Coaches Headset, was to create a cool new look for the product that is often overlooked as a background item, and turn it into an image-building product that attracts the viewer’s attention even in the high energy, action-packed context of the football game.” (p. 91)


Diesel store, Union Square West (p. 92):
- Feels like stumbling into a rave; techno music pounds at a mind-rattling level, a television plays a video of a Japanese boxing match, there are no helpful signs pointing to men’s and women’s departments, and no obvious staff members.
- Niall Maher, Diesel’s director of retail operation (p. 92): “we’re conscious of the fact that, outwardly, we have an intimidating environment. We didn’t design our stores to be user-friendly because we want you to interact with our people. You can’t understand Diesel without talking to someone.”

Gap and Banana Republic (p. 92):
- Large clothing retailers, have they layout of their stores standardized and simplified in an effort to put customers at ease.

If people don’t really know what they want, what is the best way to satisfy their needs?
In the case of human-centered design:

- Provide them with the tools to explore by themselves, to try, to empower themselves to success
In the case of sales staff:

- It’s an opportunity to present themselves as rescuers ‘in-shining-armor’, ready to offer assistance, to provide just the answer customers will be led to believe they had been seeking.

In fashion, who is to say which approach is right? People have preferences, some people prefer Gap’s approach, some Diesel’s. The stores serve different needs. The first is more utilitarian, the second pure fashion, where the whole goal is caring about what others think.

Mort Spivas (p. 93):
- Super salesman
- Tells Douglass Rushkoff: “when you’re wearing a thousand-dollar suit, you project a different aura. And then people treat you differently. You exude confidence. And if you can feel confident, you’ll act confident.
If people believe that it makes them different, then it does make them different. For fashion, emotions are key. It’s a game.
Disconcerting (verontrusten, op het andere been zetten) customers as a selling tool is no news. Put related items nearby others, and people will buy them too. Put the not frequently purchased products nearby frequently purchased products, and people will buy them as well (points of purchase).
Don’t make the shopper notice!
Stores that try to profit through confusion often enjoy a meteoric rise in sales and popularity, but suffer a similar meteoric fall as well. When shoppers realize they’re being manipulated, they desert them and visit other ones.

Stockholm Syndrome:
- Kidnap victims develop a positive emotional bond with their captors that, after they are freed and the captors in custody, they plead for mercy for the kidnappers.
- Customers develop a bond with the salesperson

Douglass Rushkoff (p. 93):
Media critic


In design, appealing to the intellect is no guarantee of success. Many serious works of art and music are relatively unintelligible (onbegrijpbaar) to the average person. In art and literature, it would appear that when something can be clearly understood, it is judged as flawed, whereas when something cannot clearly be understood, it must of necessity be good.

Example: Fritz Lang’s classic film ‘Metropolis’:
- A wildly ambitious, hugely expensive science fiction allegory of filial revolt, romantic love, alienated labor and dehumanizing technology.
- First shown in Berlin in 1926, but the American distributor, Paramount Films, complained that it was unintelligible.
- They hired Channing Pollock, a playwright, to reedit the film. Pollock complained that ‘symbolism ran such riot that people who saw it couldn’t tell what the picture was all about’.
Whether or not one agrees with Pollock’s criticism. There is no doubt that too much intellectualism can certainly get in the way of pleasure and enjoyment.

There is a fundamental conflict between the preferences of the popular audience and the desires of the intellectual and artistic community.
Artistic integrity, a cohesive thematic approach, and deep substance seldom come from committees. The best designs come from following a cohesive theme throughout, with a clear vision and focus. Usually, such design are driven by the vision of one person.

Iterative, human-centered approach works well for behavioral design, but it is not necessarily appropriate for either the visceral f the reflective side.

Henry Lieberman (p. 98):
- A research scientist at the MIT Media Laboratory
- Has described the case ‘design by committee’ p. 98