The power of want
By Aron Lindegård
My career started in advertising, as an art director. Our main goal with every brief was to cut through the noise and inspire people to want whatever we were trying to sell. I’ve always been fascinated by how designers and marketers often completely disregard the power of want in the quest for experiential perfection.
I have drunk the UX Kool-Aid long ago, and firmly believe in the phases of empathizing, testing, and iterating. But a very important aspect of the human experience often gets lost in the chase for utility: would anyone want to use what we’re making?
Yes, the core product or service plays a huge role. But so does the actual experience of using the interface. I’m going to break a rule here and use myself as a focus group of one in the following examples.
Doja Cat and the Planet Her website
The product being sold is a tour, an album, plays and streams, and some merch. The interface, though, is so much fun that I have come back to this website more times than I have visited the Meta-Metaverse. It’s nowhere near as big, and there is no social interaction, but it’s just so damn cool and fun! (And the Meta’s metaverse is boring and ugly).
I want to see if there are any easter eggs I haven’t discovered. I want to see how it works on mobile. Most important to Doja Cat and her record label, though: I now firmly believe that the Doja Cat brand experience is something I want to come back to and seek out on my own. No performance marketing needed.
Propellerheads Reason DAW
Yeah, I know this is niche. But it’s also pretty damn interesting. For my own and most other amateur music producers, Ableton, Logic or Pro Tools will probably get the job done in a fantastic way. For me personally, Ableton would probably even save me a lot of time. But I just love the way Reason works.
It’s linear like a tape player, it includes really awesome instruments, players, and utilities, and it has some analog logic to it that makes sense to a layman like me. My goal is not to create faster and smoother, or to have a bigger community of users that post tutorials on Youtube. My goal is to have fun and discover.
My want is to create music that I’m proud of and having an adventure discovering how to make noise sound pleasing. By the way, you can integrate Reason inside Ableton as a VST, so you don’t have to choose.
It’s geeky stuff, but you have to try it. The average need for keyboards is cheap, reliable, and with a long battery life. The want, however, can be quite different. It’s expensive, it’s old technology, it’s unnecessary, it’s often impractical and it includes a lot of manual labor if you want to get the most of it. But the feel of both the right switches for you, programmable hotkeys, your own color scheme… The list of juicy reasons to indulge in mechanical keyboards goes on and on.
To be completely transparent: I use both the Apple wireless keyboard and the Logitech MX keyboard. But I need those. I don’t very much want them. They’re made for everyone. My mechanical keyboards are made for me, and the components are made by people who care about comfort, novelty and fun.
In conclusion, I think us experience designers, especially in the digital sphere, think too little about want and too much about need. If we create enough want, we can get away with a lot more friction and bugs, because people will come back on their own initiative, if at first they bounced out of the website, app, or VR experience.
Sometimes, speed and efficiency can, in my own humble opinion, deduct from an experience. If everyone has the same, streamlined, uber-efficient experience, there is nothing that makes it special. If we shave away too much experience, there is not much experience left to… experience.