Love letters, user research, and creativity

What links creativity, love letters, and user research? To know more, read on...
Art by author,

What are the 3-5 words that come to your mind when you think of creativity? 

When I ask this question in my webinars or workshops, people often mention “creating novel or unexpected connections” as being creative.

Creativity and novel connections

And indeed combining unrelated things is a core method for channeling creativity.
This is why the whole module of Blending within the Creative UXR course is devoted to combining unrelated things together. Creative UXR alumni have combined fun ideas like:

  • How an executive summary is like a coffee: Short, sweet (contain positive findings), and strong (impactful with clear follow-up actions).
  • How designing an interface is like cooking: Same ingredients can be used to create different recipes, and user research can be like tasting and adjusting.  No wonder the Blending exercise is a favorite of many Creative UXR course members :).

Combining love letters/breakup letters with user research

Let’s look at another example of Blending – combining love letters/breakup letters with user research. I came across this example in the excellent book The Umami Strategy: Stand out by mixing business with experience design by Aga Szostek.

Aga writes about a consultancy, Smart Design, which asked customers to write a love letter or a breakup letter to a product/service or brand based on their real-life interactions and experiences.

Aga got inspired by this idea and adapted it for user research to inform the strategy of Play – a Telecom company. Here’s how she describes their study:

“We asked first 600 and then 1000 customers to think of a brand/product/service they loved and they disliked. We then asked them to write a divorce letter to the disliked brand and a love letter to the brand they admired and to score these two brands on a scale from 1 to 10. In this way, we had a benchmark for the perception of the loved and the disliked brands.

We then asked about Play. Once more, participants were invited to write a divorce letter, a warning letter, or a love letter, together with a word of mouth story they shared with others, and then score the brand on the scale from 1 to 10. In this way, we could see whether it was evoking emotions and what kind of emotions they were.

We ended by asking customers to associate the emotion they felt using the Plutchik Wheel of Emotions. The collected stories helped to reshape the company’s strategy. They showed where the company was doing well and where it was failing.”

I love this example because I can imagine that it is fun not just for the researchers but also for the customers, and reveals our emotional relationships with the products, brands, and services we use.

What kind of unexpected and creative connections have you seen or created?

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