Understanding the Seductive Experience

“Understanding the Seductive Experience”, a really good paper by Khaslavsky and Shedroff defining the seduction theory in the field of captology or the use of persuasive technology. According to this paper, seduction has always been a part of product design, whether graphic, industrial, environmental, or electronic. Seduction involves a deep connection with the audience or user’s goals and emotions. Examples of everyday objects, like French industrial designer Phillipe Starck’s juicer (see Figure 1) and Japanese fashion designer Issey Miyake’s fashions, go beyond mere visual innovation to engage human emotions such as curiosity, surprise, and imagination. These objects go beyond the obvious and are more than what they need to be.

The basic steps toward seduction are:

  • Enticement. Grab attention and make an emotional promise;
  • Relationship. Make progress with small fulfillments and more promises, a step that can continue almost indefinitely; and
  • Fulfillment. Fulfill the final promises, and end the experience in a memorable way.

The first step is to get the audience’s attention, then to make an emotional promise.This can be done only by going to an extreme of some kind. The next and most important step is to reward for the attention given and create a relationship that lures the user to come back. This step is where the quality of interaction design is more important such that the product is fulfilling based on the function and feel. The longer it captivates the user, the more successful it will be. The final step is to end it, leaving the customer with a good feeling.

A seductive experience gives users richer experiences at every level from initial exposure to more advanced use, and make users/customers more likely to stick around and grow with the product.

The six steps for seductive experience in software development involved: knowing what the users wish to buy and experience, look ofr aspects that build meaning and emotional relationship between users and the software, correlate these aspects with the users’ aspects and consider it your priority, understand the examples of seductive design to use as inspiration, get help from a visionary designer or developer and make quality and amazing characteristics priorities among development team members.

Thus, seductive theory, tells us how we can make the user want the product and keep on using it without getting tired or bored of it over a period of time.

“You cannot acquire experience by making experiments. You cannot create experience. You must undergo it” (in Bartlett [1919] 2000).

Khaslavsky, J., & Shedroff, N. (1999). Understanding the Seductive Experience. Communications of the ACM, 42(5), 45-49.


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