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.