in Product Management, UX

Applying the Three Levels of Design to Building Software Products

Don Norman in his book titled The Design of Everyday Things talks about three levels of design — Visceral Level, Behavioral Level and Reflective Level — on how they work together and play an important role in determining how people like or dislike the product. In other words, these three levels together determine whether your product is successful or not.

Though the book refers to designing physical products, I think these levels of design also apply to building great software products.

Visceral Level

— Visceral level is about first impression

First impression is the best impression. Working on building a great on-boarding experience helps you tell your users what your product is all about and make them like your product. It is about telling the story of why users should use your product.

— Visceral level is about attraction

The more attractive (pretty) your product is the more chances you are going to get users’ immediate attention. Its when you hear users say, “WoW! Look at that!”

— Visceral level is about immediate emotional impact

Immediate feeling users get looking at your product (color, design etc.,) or touching your product (it feels good…) or feeling the immediate need of the product!

Behavioral Level

— Behavioral level is about user experience

Bad user experience, no matter how good your product is, can cripple users’ expectations, drive anger & frustration which ultimately results in users not using your product.

— Behavioral level is about understanding how users use your product

Its not just about building the user experience, it is also about understanding how users use your product, getting the right feedback so you can improve your product’s user experience.

— Behavioral level is about expectations

It is about what users expect from your product. In other words, the product should deliver what it promises to the users. e.g., Dropbox should allow its users to put stuff in their Dropbox and get to it from their computers, phones, or tablets.

Reflective Level

— Reflective level is about memories

The joy users get using your product that lasts forever.

— Reflective level is about the relationship with the product

If users like your product, they are going to be more attached to it. They build a relationship with the product. They are proud to use it.

If users do not like your product, they are not going to use your product. Period.

— Reflective level is about the overall impression of the product

The more users like the product, the more they are going to keep using it. Not only use it, but recommend it to others.

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