Pragmatic and hedonic quality of software systems

Posted on October 17, 2005 | Tagged as: , | 0 comments

Good software products are more then just usable and effective. They stimulate and motivate the user to work with them and to perform a certain task. These factors can be used to describe the soft qualities of a system beside the technical ones like stability, performance and features. They can be divided into to aspects:

Pragmatic Quality: Usefulness and usability of the system

Hedonic Quality: Motivation, stimulation and challenge for the user

When designing a software, the question is how to implement a rather philosophical function like motivation with the technical approach programming.

Examples come from a close related field: video games. Games are used although nobody really needs them, they solely live by their users motivation for playing. An appealing story, a consitence interaction schema and the challenge for the user to get better and learn new tricks are the main factors that divide successful games from the average ones. Two of them – challenge and consitency – may be copied to software systems.

Motivation can be created by defining a goal (task) and the way this goal (task) can be accomplished. Providing different solutions – an easy and fast way and a harder an professional way with more functionality – generates an environment of learning where the user can upgrade himself. This challenge is the most motivating element a software can have.

Consitency can be achieved in a large part by the pragmatic aspects of usability. But it bears the danger of a too uniformic system which has no space for hedonic factors. More important is the coherence of the whole software: consitence before uniformity. The right balance between pragmatic and hedonic quality is important and make the user get a kind of an experince and satisfaction while working with the application.

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