10 May, 2014

Emotions Testing - An Introduction


Several years ago, Don Norman was on a radio show along with designer Michael Graves. He had just criticized one of Graves’ creations, the “Rooster” teapot, as being pretty to look at, but difficult to use—when a listener called in. The caller owned the Rooster. “I love my teapot,” he said defensively. “When I wake up in the morning and stumble across the kitchen to make my cup of tea, it always makes me smile.” His message seemed to be: “So what if it’s a little difficult to use? It’s so pretty it makes me smile, and first thing in the morning, that’s most important.”  


Rooster Teapot
Rooster Teapot

Cognitive scientists now understand that emotion is a necessary part of life, affecting how we feel, behave, and think. Indeed, emotion makes us smart. Without emotions, our decision-making ability would be impaired. 

My first exposure to Value of Emotions came from Michael Bolton's ideas. His most famous calendar exercise around emotions of a user when he used a calendar app was a great inspiration. I totally forgot about this aspect until a year ago when I started to work on a User Experience testing project. In almost what I believe was a co-incidence, I presented my work at UX India 2013 conference in a 10 min Rapid Fire talk. It was after this talk that the idea for Emotions Testing was born. Over next few months, I have spent several hours fine tuning my thoughts in this area. 

A typical user is like Marilyn Monroe - Highly Demanding, Yet Realistic!

Emotions Testing is evaluating the emotional state of the user before, during and after product is used and identifying the pain points thereof. This technique can be used to evaluate the product against different emotions that a user goes through. Test results can be represented on an Emoticon Dashboard as described below:

Emoticon Dashboard
Emoticon Dashboard

What you see in the picture is a small snapshot of Emoticon Dashboard prepared after testing the product for emotions. Happy emoticon denotes good user experience and a sad emoticon denotes bad user experience. At the end of the report, you can feature a hard hitting feedback from the user highlighting the biggest pain point in the product. You can add more emoticons based on Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions and customize it for your needs. This way you can directly communicate with the stakeholders on how the product fares on emotions testing and facilitate better decisions.

P.S: I will be writing a series of short blog posts on Emotions Testing in coming few weeks. Stay tuned! My friend and colleague Ravisuriya challenged this post and had several questions around how to sample emotions? Can we really sample them? How can we feel other's emotions? and so forth. I hope to address these questions in upcoming blog post. I would also like to invite the community to share their inputs around Emotions Testing. It will be interesting to take this concept forward by ideating with many testing intellectuals.

Regards,
Pari

5 comments:

David Greenlees said...

Hi Pari, a subject near and dear to my heart.

I will hold off on comments at this stage as it appears that you will be addressing the subject more in future posts; however it would be a pleasure to work with you, and others, on this.

One thing we need to do... work out how to induce certain emotions prior to the use of a product. This is the largest hurdle I have come up against and wrote about it briefly here... http://www.stickyminds.com/article/how-usability-matrix-emotions-can-benefit-your-software-testing

I did a little role play during my talk at STARCanada to try and highlight the impact preceding emotions can have on product use. That was easy, because it was a role play. In real life it's much harder as I'm sure you're aware!

David

Parimala Hariprasad said...

Hey David,

Now, I feel guilty. I did read an article on this long long ago. Let's find a way to work together. I will buzz you on skype soon.

Regards,
Pari

David Greenlees said...

No need to feel guilty! I'm just happy that I'll have someone to bounce ideas off of now. :)

Ram said...

I have been working with UX folks lately and also read a book "Design for everyday things" a month ago. Ever since, I keep my observation open on the moments of frustrations as a user and think about things that could have been done differently, either myself or the product design I have been using, both at work and at everyday things. It is true that how the users can accept or refrain from using the product based on their emotions no matter what the end result of going through the emotional moments be.

I agree on other aspect saying "voice of customer" though we all know that we cannot mimic what customer or end user does on our applications, but we tend to simulate the part of the steps the users go through. However, the emotions part I am interested as well on being able to simulate.
One context I can think of on the simulation context is like actors do in Shows/Films - where they wear a role of the characters and go through the emotions the characters go through - and certainly as a viewer watching the show, I see people getting themselves into the character and show their emotions (cry, laugh, jump, comment, and so on).

So can we script the emotions for testing ?

I will look forward for your thoughts further on this.

Parimala Hariprasad said...

Ram,

I see where you are heading in your question. In fact, Ravi asked me the same question about 'Scripting Emotions' for users.

We often tell people, 'Step into someone else's shoes and see how things are'. In reality, we can never step into others shoes - the simple reason being "Our shoe sizes are different". However, we can create a good sample set of emotions over a period of time and then say, 'Hey, in our experience this is what we did and this is how it worked for us'.

Good thoughts.

Regards,
Pari