This paper discusses an industrial designer's approach to eliciting user perceptions and emotional responses to products through visual evaluation and stimuli. Whilst the authors accept that product functionality is crucial for product success, the appearance, use of materials, shape and form provide the most immediate product data for the user. Less tangible issues such as emotional bonding of users with products, cultural perceptions and social value systems, provide valuable insights for the product developer to help expand knowledge and understanding of the users' need beyond the functional. This paper presents product personality profiling as a new technique for design researchers/designers, and discusses it alongside other emerging approaches such as mood boards and visual product evaluation. The authors have used these techniques during focus group sessions with users to elicit individuals' needs and aspirations towards products. Such a user-centred approach is fundamental to applied ergonomics. Experiences, benefits, and limitations of these techniques are outlined as well as the opportunities for further development. © 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
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