A comparative analysis of designers’ intended messages and users’ perceived messages embodied in product appearance

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2009
Khalaj, Javad
This study discusses product form perception within the context of communication. The emphasis is on meanings attributed to product visual form, and more specifically the correspondence between messages designers intend users to receive and the messages that users actually receive. Four groupings of appearance-based product attributes are identified; 1) social values and positions; 2) usability and interaction; 3) visual qualities; and 4) personality characteristics. The study was driven by the main research question; ‘do users perceive the same meaning from product appearance as designers intended, or is there a level of mismatch?’. An empirical study was conducted using newly-designed Turkish seating furniture to investigate the relationship between designers’ and users’ ascription of meanings to products based on appearance, as a means to validate or refute opposing answers to the main research question. The results of the study reveal that there exist some considerable differences between designers’ intended messages and users’ perceived messages decoded from product visual form. The study suggests that designers perform less well at communicating product meanings related to two of the four groupings: usability and interaction, and personality characteristics. Accordingly, these are identified as priority areas for improved message transmission.

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Citation Formats
J. Khalaj, “A comparative analysis of designers’ intended messages and users’ perceived messages embodied in product appearance,” M.S. - Master of Science, Middle East Technical University, 2009.