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Dear Netflix: Break Up Letter for Products You Used to Love

Is it time to sever a long-term relationship with that product you used to love, but now love to hate?

Design consultancy company Altitude asked its team members to write a break up letter directed at once-cherished products that have since lost their charm. The results are quite interesting - and useful to the product designers in order to fix/improve the product or service.

Alanna Fincke wrote over at Fast Company:

The exercise wasn’t just catharsis. It was intended to help us better empathize with consumers. The aspect of human nature embodied by the adage that people say one thing and do another can make it difficult for designers to truly capture consumers’ intentions, motivations, and values. So designers borrow cognitive psychology techniques that encourage people to create something as a means of explaining their tacit knowledge, latent needs, emotions, dreams, and motivations.

One of those techniques, the Breakup Letter, was developed by our fellow colleagues at Smart Design. Reframing one's relationship to a product as something romantic gives the user permission to exaggerate his or her biggest frustrations and wishes. That, in turn, can help designers understand the emotional connection between people and their products, services, and experiences.

This one below, written to a stud finder, captures the essence of my fear and loathing of working with such a device:

And I've broken up with many a printer in my life:

What product(s) in your life do you want to break up with and why?


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I eventually want to break up with every printer I've ever had, usually fairly quickly into the relationship.

My random orbit sander and I broke up a few weeks ago. I don't blame her--it was my fault. I was putting her under too much pressure.
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