Produktens budskap: metoder för värdering av produkters semantiska funktioner ur ett användarperspektiv
Doctoral thesis, 2002
Products that we meet have different functions; technical, practical and semantic functions. Rune Monö defines four semantic functions of the product: to describe its purpose and way of use; to express its qualities, for example 'lightness' and 'dependability'; to signal, i e urge the user to react in a specific way, and to identify its purpose, origin, identity and product field. The overall aim of this study is to provide knowledge on aspects of product semantics and to develop and evaluate such methods and tools that can be useful in order to open a dialogue with the users with a view to making them verbally formulate semantic problems, needs and requirements. Data on user problems have been collected through different methods, by: focus interviews with groups of users, observation studies of single users documented by verbal protocols ('think aloud methodology') and interviews with single users. In order to evaluate whether the intended message has been received and understood, a visual analogue scale has been developed and tested as a tool for measuring the comprehensibility of products as information carriers; e g to measure how well the design describes the way it should be used and also how it express certain values or 'qualities'. In this manner, alternative solutions could be valued and compared. The product's quality profile could thus be identified and articulated, as a basis for the design work. This study has shown that formalised methods and tools can be used and are useful in the design process. Semantic functions, and thereby the semantic requirements, can be verbally communicated but require tools in order to provide a common language by which a dialogue between the user and the designer can be opened. When the desired product semantic profile has been identified through this dialogue, the designer - with his or her training and knowledge of semiotic theory - will be able to interpret and transform this profile into a product gestalt. This thesis describes a tool - Product Semantics Analysis (PSA) - for identifying the users' emotional and cognitive requirements for the product, for defining measurable criteria, as well as to assess whether or not the requirements have been met. The method can be regarded as an 'operative' complement to more strategic methods, such as life style analysis etc.
methods for product semantics