BBC NEWS | Technology | E-mail makes surfers emotional: “People can feel a greater connection to commercial organisations that send them regular newsletters, which in turn means more loyalty, the research found.” Based on Nielsen research as described in his latest Alert box: “[…] users have highly emotional reactions to newsletters. This is in strong contrast to studies of website usability, where users are usually much more oriented towards functionality.” Also includes a juicy quote as usual: “From an interaction design perspective, […] Macintosh is a higher-priced dolled-up variant of Windows”.
This focus on emotions seems to fit in the NNGroups’ newfound appreciation of beauty and pleasure, an emotional reaction.
I’m not sure about the appropriatness of their methodology (they call it themselves “subjective comments”) to find out what people want/need in email newsletters – but then again I can’t evaluate their methods without downloading the report (is that info even in there?). More interesting would be ethnographic-style research of how users really use email newsletters, how it fits in their general information-usage patterns and what it means to them. It seems like the NNGroups is stretching the classic usability test beyond its capabilities instead of adapting other, more appropriate techniques.