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UXmatters: A Design Framework for Meeting Human Needs and Desires

Dirk Knemeyer publlished an article on UXmatters as a second part to a three-piece introduction to a design framework for meeting human needs and desires and defined five States of Being that represent the different degrees to which products and experiences affect and motivate people in their lives.

A few quotes:

This second part explains three Dimensions of Human Behavior, as well as specific needs and desires for which we can intentionally design products. The third and final part of this series will explore the relationships between different human needs and desires, talk about how designers can put this framework to use, and share some examples that will hopefully help make this approach of practical value to you.

Typically, we design products for a specific end state. For example, someone has an idea that a large beanbag can function as a chair. Or someone imagines how improving a paperless payment system can work more effectively than a manual system that is currently in use. Or customer feedback leads to the optimization of a Web site workflow that helps people complete their tasks more quickly. But in each of these examples, the focus is on things other than the essence of the actual people who will use the products—whether that focus is on the application of a particular material, on using technology to make a process easier, or responding to customers’ feedback to keep them satisfied. As I previously described in Part One of this series, the intentional attempt to satisfy people’s internal needs and desires simply isn’t there.

Emotionally rewarding activities are either social or introspective in nature. Rather than focusing on tasks or accomplishing specific goals, such activities focus on communication, personal expression, and internal exploration. Activities that have an emotional basis are more likely to be memorable and enduring than other activities and tend to result in stronger and/or ongoing relationships between participants. The most meaningful outcomes for most people also tend to involve getting their emotional needs and desires met, regardless of their typical preferences.

Five levels of human needs and desires.

Dirk’s framework discusses five levels of human needs and desires:

  • Participation
  • Engagement
  • Productivity
  • Happiness
  • Well-being

At each level, Dirk states that we all have needs and desires at all of the following three dimensions of human behavior:

  • Analytical (related to the mind)
  • Emotional (related to feelings and/or spirituality)
  • Physical (related to the body)

In these three dimensions I recognize a lot of what Don Norman described as the three levels of processing in his book “Emotional Design”: Visceral, behavioral and reflective.

What I missed in Norman’s book was a hands on description of how we could use this knowledge to design products that better fit people’s needs and desires.
Dirk at the end of his article:

“I know I am mapping pretty new territory here, and the way all of this fits together may initially seem complicated. Again, the third and final installment of this series will explore the relationships between different human needs and desires, talk about how you can put this framework to use, and share some practical examples that will hopefully clarify the entire picture.”

Ok, that makes me curious. My feeling is that the territory is not “pretty new” based on what the framework explains in terms of levels of human needs and desires and dimensions of human behavior. What could be pretty new territory is the third part of this series, where Dirk will explain how we can put the framework to use and give practical examples of products where the framework was put into practice. I look forward to reading that.

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