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What are archetypes and what is their role in the product interface design?

Image: archetypes

Roger Dooley, the author of the book «Brainfluence» argues that in 80 % of cases people make decisions on buying unconsciously. The expert explains this by the peculiarities of human neurophysiology. There are other theories helping to understand consumers behavior. For example, Carl Gustav Jung, the founder of analytical psychology, argued that people’s lives are controlled by the collective unconscious. It consists of archetypes: mental structures condensing the experience of mankind and transforming it into a universal model of behavior. Is it possible to use the well-known Jung’s theory of archetypes in the course of creating a digital product design and how it can affect the product’s future success in the market?

Archetypes and their role in product design

image: archetypes in product UI

 

A study of what is your client’s and potential customer’s stage of life, can be a good start to explore the issue on their attitude toward the archetype you are planning to use. In any case, in this matter, it is better to appeal to positive desires than to fears.

When product design is carried out within archetypes, there appears the possibility to give it a certain psychological and emotional depth. In today’s society, where everything is moving along the «consumption» vector, the use of archetypes in design can work for the benefit of commercial goals. Since nowadays any commercial production is inseparable from the designing, we can say that the use of archetypes is present in this area, too.

The definition of the product archetype is partly a playing technique that will not replace time-consuming research, but will be a useful addition thereto: it will help to create a legend, find the product voice, grope after an approach that will attract the needed consumer. The designer, in turn, can pull out of the archetype a lot of insights-tips which will make it easier to find relevant visual codes.

At the level of product UI/UX design and branding creation, one needs to know archetypes in order to:

  • Make a portrait of the client, understand his motives and barriers at each stage of a purchase;
  • Form a communication style attractive to the target audience and convert contacts into sales;
  • Create a unique and balanced atmosphere of the product design.
However, the product design for the used archetypes should be considered in relation to the brand under which the product is created. This is justified by the fact that the physical and semantic content of the future product should correspond to the values and meanings projected by the entire brand onto the world. That is the whole brand communication should continue in a similar vein. Only in this case it will be effective both from the point of view of commercial success, and from the point of view of perception adequacy.
 
It is not difficult for modern man to distinguish from the total number the brands that can be classified as hero, caregiver, outlaw, etc. On the basis of what can they be separated, due to what is such an image formed, how is it transmitted? The whole story of the brand contains meanings forming a certain image in the consumer’s mind. Brand legend, brand discourse, corporate identity, the product design, etc. – all this, in the net, makes a picture of what the consumer sees. And if this image is represented, for example, as a caregiver, the whole brand can be called like that.
 
With that in mind, when developing a product design strategy, we analyze three fields:
 
  • product;
  • market (competitors, trends and free niches are analyzed);
  • consumer (we are wondering: what is our interested segment, what are these people’s expectations, how they make their choice, etc.).
 So, by what means does the product designer convey meanings containing archetypes? Typically, these are all the same standard tools, such as shapes, colors and materials – in other words, UI design at most. It is clear that the designer forms the semantic content not by embodying the entire archetypal image in product design, but only by giving individual features of this image which are associatively connected with the product user.
 
Each interface element has its own meaning, and they can be combined in different ways, forming more complex semantic levels. Certain colors carry certain features conveying a variety of «signals» — from gender to the accuracy of action performed within the product interface.

Conclusion:

At this time, giving meanings to objects is not so much a collective creativity process of all mankind, as the activity of specific people: designers. In order the product design had the greatest impact on the person: attracted his attention, ingrained, induced to buy, etc., one could transmit the meanings with archetypes. Since archetypes are at the deep level of the unconscious and are based on the key mechanisms of the human mind, they can be an effective means of achieving commercial success or other target goals. In case of product design, archetypes serve as a means of these products images creating in the consumers’ minds. The whole brand story works for the image creating, so one can not consider the design outside of this system.

Thus, we can conclude that the role of archetypes in product design perception is quite significant, because they set the direction, in which this product image is formed. Besides, archetypes play this important role not only in perception of the product interface design, but also in perception of the brand as a whole.

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