“What we experience, and what we remember about what we’ve experienced are two totally different things. Most product design efforts are directed only towards the former.” – Jeremy Finch
Designer Jinsop Lee’s TED Talks remains one of my evergreen favorites, for focusing on a design tool that not only uplifts a product’s experience, but makes it much more desirable and memorable. Talking about designing for multiple senses, Jinsop introduces us to a technique for uplifting product experiences, drawing from examples of the past, and references that only strengthen his point. The 5 senses graph (shown in the video and available to download below) is a handy way of relooking at products, services, activities, and broadly at categories, to make them much more engaging to users… because they engage more senses. I highly recommend watching the video above, and using the 5 Senses graph right at the bottom of the article to evaluate your products. Designing for multiple senses, however, doesn’t guarantee a product will be more successful. Scoring high on the graph isn’t indicative of great design, it’s indicative of innovative thinking, which always needs to be backed by logic. Let’s take a look at some unique products and how they feature on the 5 senses graph!
The first example pulled from Jinsop’s video. The act of riding a motorcycle. The motorcycle experience is thrilling, filled with adrenaline, and is borderline an addiction to a passionate handful. Why? Jinsop says it’s because it engages many senses, and gets ingrained within your memory much better. The motorcycle and the ride is pure visual thrill, so the Sight gets full marks. Feeling the motorcycle purr beneath you, and the wind in your face accounts for a 10 in the Touch category. The sound of a motorcycle is often a very strong part of its identity, which, interestingly enough, falls under the design process for some companies! Harley Davidson and Lamborghini often design and patent the way their engines sound, because the sound actually gets your blood pumping, heart racing, and your pupils dilating, all of them being indications of a great product experience! 10 marks for Sound then. Jinsop gives Smell a 4, because while bikes do have their own smells (oil, brake fluid, etc.), it isn’t strongly associated with the riding experience enough to be a strong memory maker. Taste, obviously, doesn’t factor into this experience.
The second product is arguably the most viral and popular toy of the past year, the fidget spinner. Notice however, the fact that the Fidget Spinner, like the motorbike, scores highly on Sight, Touch, and Sound, but not on anything else. This is true for almost all products and experiences. We’re highly visually, tactually, and auditorily perceptive, and most products get subconsciously designed to cater to those senses, be it something as basic as popping bubble wrap, clicking a selfie on the smartphone, or watching something on a VR headset. A good product scores high on the first three, a great one pushes boundaries by trying to engage more senses too (I’d raise the example of a book over a Kindle. While a Kindle has obvious advantages over a book, the book is visual, often becoming a part of the decor on one’s table or bookshelf, it also feels great to hold, engages you with the rustling of paper, and most importantly, scores over the Kindle with its beautiful ‘book smell’).
How about something truly multi-sensorial? The first instance to come to my head was that of pop-rocks. Not scoring too high on the visual and smell departments, because they’re meant to be consumed and not stared at or smelled, pop-rocks actually score remarkably well on touch, sound, and taste, as they delight you with their tangy taste, the mind-boggling popping action, and the sound that you can literally listen to inside your head when you close your mouth. Another great example, and probably scoring better, would be a glass of chilled beer. Looking great, tasting great, smelling sublime, feeling remarkably bubbly or creamy in its texture, drinking beer is another great experience too. Besides, the opening of bottles, cans, and the clinking of glasses give beer a great Sound scoring as well.
It makes sense to evaluate products that we feature on YD too. The Bariseur is an alarm clock that wakes you up to a cup of freshly brewed coffee. It’s important to notice that the Bariseur should be judged or compared against alarm clocks, rather than coffee makers, because that’s what it is, first and foremost, and that’s what makes it unique. It’s the most multi-sensory alarm, with scores in all of the senses, whereas your regular alarm would probably not do well in any of the departments, because while an alarm sound engages your sense of hearing, the experience is far from desirable, with its shrill, jolting sound. Another great example is IDEO’s Lolzzz alarm, that wakes you to the sound of children giggling!
The Right Cup does something quite biblical, by turning water into juice. A simple looking cup, with a specially formulated plastic lip that contains aromatic flavoring embedded within the polymer, the Right Cup encourages you to drink more water, by tricking your brain into thinking it’s juice or cola! As your nose rests above the plastic ring, and your tongue in contact with it, you pick up the smell and taste of the cup’s flavor, while actually just drinking water. Who thought someone could turn drinking water into a multi-sensory experience!
You can click on the image above, or on this link to download or save the 5 Senses Graph template. A great ideation tool, and technique to think out of the box, the 5 Senses Graph is a simple way of seeing if your ideas can trigger more senses, and make stronger memories. I’m excited to see how you use this great creative tool!
Mark Zuckerberg attended a hearing in front of the United States Senate on April 10, 2018 to address a variety of concerns, ranging from online privacy to the influence Facebook had in the 2016 Presidential elections. Rather than focusing on the political impact of what transpired, this article focuses on smart, effective techniques to answer very difficult questions. Let’s move into this review knowing that Mark admittedly took responsibility for needing to improve campaign, content and data management in the last 24 months (while also protecting Facebook’s reputation) and focus on his answering techniques.
For those going through tough interviews (and if you haven’t seen it) I recommend watching the Senate Hearing, as a study in how to use language, definition (and sometimes deflection), and tone to come across clearly, confidently and defend your ideas. This post is specifically about seeing how Mark was able to answer really difficult questions with the full capacity of his intellect, in an authentic way. Admittedly there a few moments where he struggled, but who wouldn’t with this vast array of questions coming their way?
Here are the qualities and tactics he portrayed which helped him complete the Senate Hearing, fairly unscathed. These techniques would also work well with or against tough interview questions, since many of them are designed to be pointed, pressure oriented, and expose weaknesses:
1) He was extremely prepared (being prepared for interviews shows you are invested in the experience and you want to provide value to your interviewers, it says simply “I really care” and to go one level deeper, in psychology when you illustrate ‘a way of being’ to others, they are very likely to reflect it back to you — don’t you want your interviewers to care about you?).
2) He was clear when he didn’t have detail on a current law or policy, so he deferred to the Senate’s definitions on them (this showed he knew when to relinquish expertise to this body that focuses on legislation. In other words, when you have experts in the room, let them be experts. Arguing with professional opinions when you have little basis can lead to disaster, as it speaks to your insecurities or can be viewed as a need for premature leadership. In an interview, letting ‘experts be experts’ illustrates when you can step aside and let another illuminate an issue)
3) He disarmed extremely abstract and pointed questions with truth and what I would call ‘the very best intentions’ and forcing clarity (when abstract questions come your way, a good rule is to reiterate those questions back to the interviewer in your own words. Examples of this would be saying something along the lines of “I think what I am hearing from you is…” and inserting your interpretation here. This shows deep understanding of the existing concepts, as well as shows a fantastic level of authenticity — because it’s an exercise in understanding the interviewer’s deepest concerns)
4) He was clear to argue definition when there was ambiguity, and then built his arguments after the group had agreed upon terms and definitions (this shows empathy, and a need for the group to have a universal understanding of what is at stake — it says “I care about all of us understanding, not just some of us” or to put it more bluntly “are we all talking about the same thing?”)
5) He was clear to distinguish when (questioned) goals were personal, Facebook’s, or for the common good of the users. (when answering multi-layered and complex questions (in this case, for the good of society), it’s very important to know the ‘point of view’ of the answer. What person, entity or spirit is guiding that answer. It’s amazing how different those answers can be built and delivered based on what their true source should be.)
I sincerely hope these tips give you some powerful tools to leverage during difficult interviews. And remember, these tools are universal, and can be used in business, the classroom or even in social media. If we all communicated in a way that really exercised a true understanding of those asking the hard questions, not only would we be in much better career positions, but we’d also have a more unified country. And here I was trying not to be political. Now go wow your interviewers with your ability to really understand, articulate and address their wonderfully complex concerns.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
David Martinez is a Design Advisor from Southern California helping startups, enterprise and government tell better stories through visual design, interaction and user experience. He has worked for the likes of: City of Los Angeles, LegalZoom, Gamefly, Velocify, iRise, CAKE Marketing, IJHANA & Prosum Technologies. He’s currently ranked as one of the top contributors in the popular Facebook Group: Designer’s Guild. Learn more about him at davidmartinez.dunked.com or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
YD has always had a large focus on concepts. The only way to pave the future, I believe, is to conceptualize, and we’ve seen so many products develop only years after the concepts did. So as far as they go, conceptual designs pave the way for real-world products, and they’ll always have their place on YD. Having said that, there’s no observing conceptual designs without stumbling across those made by Jonas Daehnert, or as the internet calls him, Phone Designer. Jonas’ conceptual phones range from pretty-well-chalked-out to tongue-in-cheek… although some of his conceptual designs feature rather logical details based off rumors, brought to life by his photorealistic rendering skills. We had a chance to have a word with Jonas, delving into his process, passion for phones, and what he designs apart from them. We’ve even taken a look at some of his phones we’ve featured on YD.
Yanko Design: Hey Jonas! Big fan! Tell us a little about yourself, your background, what you do…
Jonas Daehnert: Hey! My name is Jonas Daehnert, I’m a 31-year-old designer from Germany. In 2007 I started studying product design at the Bauhaus University Weimar. During this time I learned how to develop and design products. But, of course, even out of school, learning continues.
Currently, I work as a freelance product and concept designer. Sometimes I design new product concepts for companies or other design agencies, sometimes I visualize their products for packaging, advertising or for presentations, like MWC in Barcelona. In my free time, I’m a natural born geek.
YD: How and when did you venture into the “concept phone” domain?
JD: In addition to studying, I founded a video game development studio with a friend, 9 years ago. He was, and still is, an excellent computer scientist and I was able to design the graphics, sounds and game mechanics. We did a good job. But even in 2010/11, it was hard to get attention, especially when you developed apps for Windows Phone 7. To increase our downloads we were looking for a way to advertise our apps more effectively. Then I came up with the idea to promote our apps on fictional devices. As chance would have it, Microsoft revealed their first Surface devices in June 2012. One week later we presented our games on the new fictional “Surface Phone”. I’m really proud of it, because it was my first phone concept and people really liked it. We got a lot of attention. It was also the birth of the Surface Phone myth. From that point on, I started developing phone concepts in my free time.
YD: Softwares! What do you use to model and render?
JD: Like a lot of product designers I use Rhino 3D for modeling and Keyshot 7 Pro for rendering. Both applications are relatively lightweight, versatile, affordable, and easy to learn — but hard to master. They work perfectly together.
A poke at the #bendgate controversy surrounding the iPhone 6 launch
YD: How do you start with your concepts? Do you follow the rumor-mill?
JD: My first concepts just followed the rumors and as a product designer it is always a good exercise to work on fictional things for companies you have never worked for. It’s like a role playing game. You analyze their design philosophy and create new products for them, without restrictions or limitations. It’s just a typical design process with a lot of research, sketching and failures.
But in the last two years I stepped back to just do some smaller stuff on Twitter, because these days I don’t see any advantage to designing smartphones under a false flag. Most companies became boring, predictable giants. The biggest topics in the last six month were notches, great cameras and the disappearance of the headphone jack. That’s it.
I would like to go further and design my own visions under my own concept brand. For nearly a decade I’ve called myself Phone Designer. This doesn’t mean that I’m only focused on phones, though. Currently I’m working on a laptop concept, which will be totally unique.
YD: Share some of your tips for photo-realistic renders!
JD: Of course for every render scene the quality of the 3D model, its details, textures and materials are important. But even more important is the arrangement of the 3D models, the camera and light settings. Many 3D artists make the mistake of using very low focal lengths and aggressive viewing angles in their camera settings. As a result, lots of renderings are distorted and the original character of the product is destroyed. Be more conservative in terms of camera settings and spend more time developing a sophisticated light setting to push the product characteristics. Having some knowledge about photography is really helpful, too.
The Pixel concept actually used Google’s brand colors as product lighting, creating a beautiful atmosphere for the render!
YD: Favorite phone of all time? What phone do you own?
JD: Definitely my first phone, a C35i by Siemens. It is an extremely durable phone with two weeks of battery life. And it still works, after 18 years. I’ve spent a long time with Windows Phone and I’m still a fan of the Lumia phones, especially its Fabula Design language. But Windows Phone is dead, so I switched to Android. Actually I use an old Moto G4 — it’s enough for my needs. I prefer purism and simplicity.
Jonas bid farewell to the Windows Phone in a rather humorous way. It’s pretty comical how the Windows Mobile tile-UI fits into the crucifix design too!
YD: Do you ever plan to make concept wearables like smartwatches or VR headsets, etc?
JD: I already did. A couple of years ago I designed a wristband that could have been a product by Microsoft, before they launched their first Microsoft Band. The similarities were surprising. I also created a fictional VR headset, the Google Nexus Glasses.
For a real client, I’m currently designing a wearable, which will be used in the sport of boxing. It’s not released yet.
YD: Lastly, one thing you really wish you could change about the smartphone industry.
JD: There are over 3000 smartphone brands in the world. Each company should produce less devices per year and focus on durability, their software services and updates. Planned obsolescence generates the money. This is a problem. That’s why I really appreciate Google’s Project Treble, which tries to change the current situation.
We should also think about our material choices. Using aluminum or glass for the backsides of the phones requires a lot of energy and resources that are not recyclable. We should use less glue and more screws. We have to prevent the garbage from landing in Africa. The whole industry has to change its attitude towards pollution.
Finally, as a geek I say: We need more battery life.
(I couldn’t agree with you more, Jonas…)
Daehner’s Spinner Phone, also from 2014 (not inspired by the fidget spinner), explores a rotating camera module machined in metal, allowing you to click incredible photos and selfies… using the same camera.
To check out more of Jonas’ work on YD, click here.