The way we experience sites and tools on the Internet is not just purely physical – our reactions are not limited to our movements across the keyboard, or our visual interpretation of the material. We also have very strong emotional reactions to the way that things are organized on the web – both the functional aspects of the user experience, as well as the look and feel of the user interface.
We can analyze our emotional reactions to the design of a website using a simple literary trick, constructing sentences which read “The website makes me FEEL ______ because my NEED for _______ was OR was not being met.” Using a list of the way things can make us feel, as well as a list of common human needs, we can construct these sentences in reaction to our experience on a website. And those sentences can then shed a great amount of insight into what is or is not working in the overall design and usability of a site, app, or software platform.
As a sample of this type of analysis, I compared my feelings around the use of Pinterest to those when I use Evernote. Both sites are content curation tools meant for collecting, organizing and saving material that is found around the web. I use Pinterest primarily for my recreational hobbies and interests, and have been so successful, that I have sought to find a similar solution to my professional pursuits. I have tested out several content curation tools to organize research and references found on the web – Mendelay, Pocket, RefWorks, and OneNote. However none have the appeal or ease of use that I have found with Pinterest. Evernote comes the closest, but still falls short. And the lack of excitement I feel around the tool itself has prevented me from adopting it as part of my regular research practice.
I was curious why this is. Why am I so engaged in using Pinterest, logging in sometimes multiple times a day, but yet cannot build a habit of using Evernote to chronicle my academic reading? It’s not for lack of interest. Habitual use of a content curation tool for research would have an incredibly positive impact on my ability to write academic articles, develop new curriculum, and share ideas with my peers. So perhaps it’s the design of the tool itself that prevents me from adopting it?
Through my careful analysis of my FEELINGS and NEEDS when using both Pinterest and Evernote, I found that the user experience was indeed to blame. While Pinterest’s interface is bold, visual and welcoming, Evernote’s interface remains uninspired, bland and disorganized. The extended website analysis attached clearly identifies ten feelings in response to my use of Pinterest, and compares those reactions to my experience of similar pages within Evernote. The landing page, search function, personal collections section, and social aspects all served as great places to conduct my analysis.
The results are clear – the user experience design of Pinterest does a much better job of meeting my needs than the design of Evernote. Perhaps if Evernote borrowed some of the elements leveraged in Pinterest’s design, I’d have an easier time of integrating the tool into my daily workflow.