Principle 3 in action: ColorCapture Ben


Over the weekend I spent some time fooling around with an iPhone app called ColorCapture Ben.  The way it works is you take a photo of a color you like using your iPhone, and then this app from Benjamin Moore shows you the closest matching color chip from their collection, and then serves up a listing of complimentary colors and so forth.  I found that it works equally well sampling a Barnett-Newman style solid color field as it does mixing across the various colors found in a Seurat-like shot of a lawn.  Even if you're not in the market for some new paint, it's a wonderful source of quiet, adult entertainment if you ever find yourself, say, attending a live performance of music designed for the toddler-preschooler demographic.  As I frequently am.

It's also a great example of Principle 3 at work.  Principle 3 states that we must always ask "How do we want people to feel after they experience this?". If you've ever painted a room in a house, you know that there are many areas that could stand some improvement, and indeed there has been quite a bit of innovation lately in the areas of zero-VOC paint formulations, easy-pour paint containers, and new application tools.  But those are all about the paint or conveying the paint to the wall, and when you think about it, there's so much more to the painting experience.  The beauty of Principle 3 is that, by asking that you put yourself in another human's shoes, it forces you to consider all of the non-obvious aspects that make up an experience:

Another part of the challenge lies in thinking about usage through
time.  We often design for those few moments that make up the core
value proposition.  But what about all the other experiences?  How does
it feel to start using it?  What does mastery feel like — is it
exhilarating or boring?  How does using this expand our human
experience?  How does it influence our environment?  What does it feel
like to extend one's relationship with the offering?  Does it help
someone get to a state of flow?

I don't know about you, but for me, the entire process of choosing a paint color is terrifying.  Mistakes are expensive, and because it is difficult to sample paint colors accurately, iteration in a baby-step kind of way (Principle 10) is also tough.  This is where ColorCapture steps in.  For example, for a while I've been meaning to paint one wall of my bedroom green, but I'd rather go clean my garage than have to choose the right color of green amongst the hundreds of choices available to me — the paradox of choice at work.  With this new app, I can take a picture of my wood floor (the dominant color in the room that I need to play with), and then boom!, I have the green I need, or at least a handful of greens.  And now I can start painting, and to start painting I'll go buy a gallon of Benjamin Moore Natura.

While I don't think Principle 3 is the most powerful of the principles, it certainly is one of the most foundational.  If you can put it in to action, you're well on your way.