(Can’t Get No) Satisfaction

Kano Noriaki

Prof. Noriaki Kano

Depending on your interests, if I say “Kano”, you might think of the British rapper, or maybe the founder of the Japanese martial of judo… or you might think, “Hey, isn’t that something to do with customer satisfaction?”.

Yep, all valid. I’m impressed. But for now, I am writing about the last one.

The Kano model (or framework) was devised by Prof. Noriaki Kano in the 1980’s. Essentially, it gives us as designers and developers a way to balance the amount of innovation required for a product or service, with the needs of its users, and it offers a way to interpret “customer satisfaction”. The model considers how users view the basic features of a product, the level of performance it provides, and the extra features which produce excitement.

Jean Claude Grosjean writes that, “The Kano model seeks to connect requirements (response to needs, product attributes) and customer satisfaction, and classifies 3 types of requirements, that will influence the final customer satisfaction. Very useful and very efficient.”

OK, but why should I care?

Mindmap visualisation of Jason Mesut's basic intro to the Kano frameworkYou should care because this model can help to tell you if you are getting things right, and if you are putting enough effort in the appropriate places in a project. It can help you make decisions.

Are your users satisfied with your product or service… are they even, perhaps, enjoying it (gasp!)?

As user experience designer Jason Mesut describes it, the Kano framework allows us to “manage innovation [and the amount of innovation required] through a classification of user needs”. Jason has just published a quick introduction to the Kano framework (see it at the end of this blog post). I’ve found it helpful to view the content as a mindmap, and I thought that some of you might find it handy, too. Click on the image up there on the left to see the full-size version.

As with pretty much any tool in the UX design toolkit, this model requires you to get to know your users. Observe them, interview them. Learn what they expect as basic features, what they evaluate as they use your product or service, and what you could add that will delight them. Sure, we are working with scientific, data-intensive products, but that doesn’t mean people can’t enjoy using them if we design them well enough…

View Jason’s presentation in full:


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