Rule #3: Keep it ASS: Abstract, Simple and Subtle
For past entries and an introduction to the 11 Golden Rules of Anthropomorphism and Design, click here.
Making good use of anthropomorphism isn’t easy. As you’ve probably already noticed, people may dislike products purely because of their anthropomorphic elements. One way to reduce this risk is to downplay the anthropomorphic qualities: keep it as simple, subtle and abstract as possible. When the implementation is so subtle that most people won’t consciously notice it, they are less likely to be annoyed, while the product can still achieve the desired effect. Abstraction reduces the chance of directly evoking negative emotions, while preserving the positive associations.
The Senseo coffee maker, above, was designed to resemble a butler bowing down to serve a hot cup of java. The anthropomorphic form is not obvious, but it still succeeds in evoking the pleasant sensation of being served.