Where Science Meets Muse

A Tool for Generating Innovative, Emotionally Impactful Design

Posted by Plish on January 20, 2011

Coming up with emotionally impactful designs seems hit and miss sometimes – it just depends on the quality of the ideation session.  One way to make the process somewhat more repeatable is to create some structure around the process of tying emotion into the design.  Since the senses provide a conduit to the generation of emotions,   a tool for coupling  (or decoupling) various senses to various attributes of a design would be extremely helpful for fomenting innovative ideas.

 The Sense-Attribute Table I’ve developed is just such a tool. I’ve included an example below in an Excel spreadsheet.

What I’ve done is list the various senses along the vertical axis and various attributes along the horizontal.  I then created conditional formatting in the cells.  A ‘+’ sign means that this attribute positively impacts the sense; ‘/’ is neutral and ‘-‘ negatively impacts the sense.  

Just as with Attribute Dependency Templates and Forecasting Matrices, the purpose here is to break existing relationships between senses and attributes or force new ones. 

For example, if we’re innovating a coffee mug, let’s look at some attributes and senses and make and break relationships.

Hearing/Contains Liquid – Currently the mug functions in a neutral to positive manner as the pitch of coffee pouring into the cup does change as the cup fills.  What if the cup had a sensor/system that played soft music that got softer (or louder) as the volume of the cup changed?

Hearing/Grippable – Currently the design is neutral. What if the cup sensed the strength of the grip and emitted a tone as the gripping force changed?

Smell/Contains Liquid – Currently  the design is neutral.  What if the cup, like Sam Adams’ beer glass, was shaped to make the aroma more concentrated, or smoother, or….

Sight,Touch/Grippable – Currently positive because you can see and touch the handle.  What if you broke the relationship by removing the handle?  In some ways new positives arise even though it may be harder to hold the cup.  For example, the cups could be easier to stack.

These are just some of the examples of how this matrix works.  You can use it for services as well.   Think about touchpoints and examine how each of the senses impacts them. 

Another way to use the tool is to determine which emotions are elicited through which sensorial experience of various attributes.  You can then generate ideas for strengthening these or creating entirely new emotional experience profiles.

Here’s an Excel version of the spreadsheet.  Would love to hear your thoughts on this!


2 Responses to “A Tool for Generating Innovative, Emotionally Impactful Design”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Michael Plishka, Alltop Innovation. Alltop Innovation said: A Tool for Generating Innovative, Emotionally Impactful Design http://bit.ly/glQTfC […]

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