Cambridge University Design / UX group

“Inclusive Design” write-up

Prof Patrick Jordan gave a fascinating talk at the Engineering Dept, on April 29th. In it, he discussed inlcusive design, and specifically “The Four Pleasures – Designing for Inclusive Emotional Engagment“.

But what is inclusive design?

Prof Roger Coleman at the Royal College of Art describes it like this:

Inclusive design is not a new genre of design, nor a separate specialism, but an approach to design in general and an element of business strategy that seeks to ensure that mainstream products, services and environments are accessible to the largest number of people.

Hmmm. Accessibility… usability… sound familiar?

Pat Jordan didn’t mention websites or anything like that once in his talk; it was all about products and consumers. But when you get down to it, the parallels are obvious – we are, after all, producing products that people consume, use, interact with, and so on.

Mass Market Success

So, big companies make stuff to sell to us. But a lot of design goes into the whole process. Of course, the pyhsical object is designed, but so is the marketing. To do this, product designers consider a “hierarchy of user needs” (I am sure this will be familiar territory for some of you… ), which I think is loosely based on Maslow’s hierarchy (or pyramid) of human needs.

Anyway, Jordan suggested that a simplified hierarchy might be something like

  • Desirability
  • Usability

Sorry, this is a bit difficult to represent without a suitable image… but we start at Functionality, at the base of our hierarchy. OK, your website does what it is supposed to do. But we want it to be usable… more to the point, our users demand usability! If you can achieve both of those, then you can aim for desirability (brand loyalty, trust, emotional engagement, being included, etc).

If you can make the user feel good about themselves, then they can feel good about your ‘product’.

Four Pleasures

Based on, but distinct from, Lionel Tiger‘s (that is a real name!) anthropological studies, Jordan describes the Four Pleasures as:

  1. Physio – physical interactions and experiences, including sight and sound
  2. Psycho – psychological reactions; feelings; thoughts and the mind
  3. Socio – relationships, either concrete (e.g. with your family members) or abstract (e.g. with “society”)
  4. Ideo – subjective and personal: values, morals; philosophy, religion

These concepts can be directly and systematically applied to design challenges.

Stories and Products

Now, I am not going to write up all the product examples we went through, because there were lots, but Jordan looked at each of the Four Pleasures in turn, and gave us examples of where brands have really got it right, and succeeded in engaging with their “users” to such an extent as to ensure mass market success.

So here we go… I will give you one example from each.

  1. Physio pleasure
    Fiat – they have a design lab in Italy that solely focuses on designing the door handle, steering wheel and gear stick. Why? Because they have data that shows that these are the first things that prospective buyers touch. If they feel ergonomic, solid, good quality… then you’re off to a good start
  2. Psycho pleasure
    Gilette – they want to sell the idea of speed (of shave) coupled with masculinity. How do they manage that? The razor is designed to look and feel fast and sleek, with a titanium finish, slopes and curves, and swooshes on the packaging. The advertising used to include lots of macho-looking blokes stepping out of racing cars and jet fighters, but now we see successful sportsmen instead (maybe borrowing ideas from L’Oréal? see below)
  3. Socio pleasure
    L’Oréal – where do women stand in society? What is feminity? What do women want? These are the sorts of questions that L’Oréal have answered in designing their products and campaigns. They show us tough, successful, glamorous women, and leave the consumer to make the mental connection. Their models aren’t just some skinny woman; they select successful actresses, singers, etc.
  4. Ideo pleasure
    Ministry of Sound – bear with me… this is not about the latest collection of massive Ibiza hits… No, Ministry were involved in a late-90s Labour (?) campaign against voter apathy among young people. Knowing that it is hard-to-impossible to change peoples values (which are deep-seated), Ministry carefully designed campaign posters to appeal to those values, even if they are cynical. So young people might think that all politicians are the same, and can’t be trusted, so why bother voting? OK… so show them a crazy bigot, waving an offensive placard, and point out that he is going to vote. Do you want that? Use your vote to cancel out his.
    And it worked.


So how to we achieve this inclusivity? How do we emotionally engage our user and audience?

  1. Take a user-centered approach
  2. Balance the practical and the emotional, or the funtional and the humanistic
  3. Take the Four Pleasures into account in the initial design phase
  4. Connect with the user – you can’t “sell” something to someone who ain’t interested

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One Response

  1. […] nicely with some ideas that have been buzzing around in my head since Prof Pat Jordan’s talk on inclusive design and “the four pleasures”, given in Cambridge earlier this year. Interesting […]

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