Beautiful And Fun Products Make For Productive Users“It’s not enough that we build products that function, that are understandable and usable, we also need to build products that bring joy and excitement, pleasure and fun, and yes, beauty to people’s lives.” – this quote by Don Norman, who coined the term “User Experience”, summarizes very much the guiding principle of consumer IT. But how relevant are joy, excitement, pleasure and beauty at the workplace? And to make this measurable and meaningful: do these help a company to make money?

We invest but we get less done: a Productivity Paradox

Although spends on IT are increasing by approximately 8% annually, companies very frequently get less productive after introducing or changing IT systems. For example, HP lost US$ 160 million and Nike experienced a 20% drop of stock as a result of failed dropped work performance due to IT implementation. Researchers of MIT realized this issue very early and developed a model to predict actual use of IT systems by measuring the satisfaction of its users.

This model, called “Technology Acceptance Model”, has seen continuous iterations over the past years. It argues user’s acceptance is depending on the degree to which software helps users to be better at their job and the degree to which using software is free of effort. For the latter ease of use, besides measures such as objective usability, the perceived enjoyment of use is a very important indicator.

In fact, the research underlines the positive impact on intrinsic motivation and fertilizing power for creativity. For all fans of quantitative measures out there: This is the result of solid 20years of research and claims to explain over 50% of actual system usage – reliability and validity are given.

Your people are humans – not robots! Treat them so.

Technology Acceptance research gives academic proof for a very old idea, rooting back to Leonardo da Vinci. He said playing and having fun fosters your creativity and productivity. When humans are having fun and are fully engaged in one particular activity, we stop adjusting our thinking to social norms or “what might be expected”.

This increases creativity, productivity and as a result innovation. Neat side effects include an enhanced atmosphere full of optimism. What they all have in common: having a positive influence on the financial performance. For more on “Why happy people are more productive”, check out the blog of the self-declared “Chief Happiness Officer” Alexander Kjerulf.

What does all this mean for business IT? It means that software incorporating business best practices is still king – but this is not enough as there are breathing people sitting in front of the computers. If they are happy and entertained, thus more creative, they can come up with solutions to wicked problems. Next stop: Digital productivity taken to the next level, WOW-ing controllers with impressive returns.