Consumers don’t develop an attachment solely because of a product’s utility or functionality; instead, consumers form an emotional infatuation with products because of a complex mixture of needs and desires that the product is capable of satisfying. Built to Love captures the relationships that we form with our purchases (or potential purchases) and provides a set of easily implementable guidelines that can be used in the design phase of virtually any product to create a product that truly captivates consumers.

This is a community post, untouched by our editors.
Built to Last - Book Cover

Built to Last by Peter Boatwright and Jonathan Cagan

From the opening pages of Built to Love, authors Peter Boatwright and Jonathan Cagan clarify the dynamics of product design and the consumer relationship.  Consumers don’t develop an attachment solely because of a product’s utility or functionality; instead, consumers form an emotional infatuation with products because of a complex mixture of needs and desires that the product is capable of satisfying. Built to Love captures the relationships that we form with our purchases (or potential purchases) and provides a set of easily implementable guidelines that can be used in the design phase of virtually any product to create a product that truly captivates consumers.  

Part business book, part primer on design concepts Built to Love explains the authors’ concepts of emotionally oriented design through a series of vignettes woven throughout the text revolving around companies that have demonstrated their ability to produce products that consumers bond with. The authors are amazingly articulate in relaying their ideas at a level that is attainable to people outside of the design field while still managing to capture the attention of those who are. The ideas flow from the pages and allow a design-oriented reader an opportunity to build a device catered to the human experience with a process that begins before the first designs ever leave the drawing board.  

We believe that the product itself must be designed from the start to evoke emotions that resonate deeply with the customer, resulting in passion in the marketplace and customer commitment to the company.  

Built to Love explores the range of emotions that we experience during our interactions with the variety of devices and wares that we come into contact with. In identifying these emotions, Cagan and Boatwright create vivid examples of how such emotions come into play within the vignettes presented. In an analysis of the Lonestar Navistar long-haul semi-truck, the authors take an object that is generally regarded as devoid of any emotional context and demonstrated how Lonestar had gone to painstaking detail to provide truckers with enhanced functionality in a long-haul truck. Beyond this enhanced functionality, the authors uncovered how the truck made truckers feel.  With features that created unparalleled comfort and conjured feelings of home, Lonestar produced a truck which had a loyal fan base and a waiting list before the rig ever reach production. Built to Love is full of similar scenarios that show how companies are able to reach outside the technicalities of their products and into the hearts of consumers. Discussions of sustainability and social responsibility demonstrate how a company’s complete image helps in the development of emotional associations.

On a personal level, I found Built to Love to be extremely informative about the role of emotion in product design. The material was well put together and was explained in a way that allowed me to understand concepts that I had little prior knowledge of. The information flowed very well and I felt the authors did a great job of avoiding redundancy and kept from overloading the reader with detail. As an individual who deals only with design tangentially, I found the techniques and ideas that Boatwright and Cagan presented to be remarkably flexible and realistically implementable. Cagan and Boatwright include a variety of tools that make it possible to use the book as a sort of “How-To” guide.  Readers are enabled to ask the right questions in design that provides a fulfilling user experience.

…an easy to understand but fundamentally informative exploration into the emotional design that adds to any designers toolbox…

What amazed me most about Built to Love is its wide range of applicability.  This isn’t just a must read for a limited audience of designers.  In fact, almost anyone with a product or idea to sell could learn volumes from Boatwright and Cagan. There are also some pointers in creating a vivid emotional context within organizations to make those within the organization as well as those that act with the organization on an institutional level (such as academic institutions) gain a more robust and engaging experience. The book shows how to create several evaluation mechanisms  in order to achieve the benchmarks and major emotional design facets which the authors speak about. Built to Love is an easy to understand but fundamentally informative exploration into the emotional design that adds to any designer’s toolbox while simultaneously serving as the essential title for anyone new to the concept.