It’s not how you feel about the design or experience, it’s how the design makes you feel about yourself.
The P/A Methodology
The roots of Psycho-Aesthetics (P/A) come from a uniquely pivotal time in which its founder Ravi Sawhney worked with dozens of cognitive and industrial psychologists developing the first touch screen interface at Xerox PARC, the birthplace of many of today’s technologies, including the Macintosh. During this challenging time, he found that several facts created barriers to its success:
1. People were not yet familiar with computers;
2. People related to CRT screens as TVs and thereby knew only to never put their finger prints on the screen;
3. They knew to stand back far enough to avoid its radiation. A button on the screen saying “touch to start” was met with great resistance, in part due to the presentation of the technology. Imagine a foot-deep display with a 5-inch by 7-inch display buried inches inside a dark bezel. It was anything but intuitive. Success was finally attained after months of exploration, playing with various designs on screen, and working to reduce the perception of depth and darkness, all of which eventually allowed users who were new to the concept to immediately accept and interact with it. That was 1978.
The Psycho-Aesthetics Process Overview
The Hero’s Journey
The P/A Map
P/A maps are a scalable design-strategy framework. They are a center point to Psycho-Aesthetics, providing a consistent lens to see the world through. By adopting P/A maps, we as designers develop relevance and understanding of how people see the world, resulting in our ability to empathize with them and their perceptions. Additionally, we find that using P/A maps trigger recall at a higher level than occur otherwise. Viewing visuals trigger recall of process and insights that allow communication with higher levels of depth, clarity, and conviction.
The maps become a new shared language between stakeholders and ourselves.It is used to map personas, brands, and offerings against the consumer’s Hierarchy of Needs, Desires, and Aspirations on one hand and levels of interactivity on the other. Once these entities are mapped, opportunity zones (White Space / Blue Ocean) can be identified and design directions can be designed and communicated.