Product reaction cards

A client pointed me the way of Microsoft’s Product Reaction Cards a couple of years ago. They’re a collection of words that can be used at the end of a usability testing, or other user research session, to garner a users more emotional response to a prototype, site, etc.

I like them.


14 responses to “Product reaction cards

  1. I was forced to use these last year on a couple of projects. They look interesting, but I found that at the end of the test the last thing a participant wants to do is go through this big pile of cards. It takes quite a lot of time, but I don’t think the gain is worth the pain.

    A smaller set of cards would be much better…

  2. simplerisbetter

    @Donna – I agree that there are a lot of cards and it can appear overwhelming at the end of a session. I would be all for a shortened list – if anyone knows of one?

    But I’ve found that if you introduce the exercise with energy you can get people through it and it does stimulate reflective comments/discussion that might otherwise not come out.

    I typically give the exercise 10 minutes – 5 for users to look through the list (quickly!) and 5 to discuss why they selected the cards they did.

  3. Thanks for sharing this information. Really is pack with new knowledge. Keep them coming.

  4. Hey – this is an old thread but…

    I’ve had product selection cards on the back of my mind for a few years too – but been concerned that any time I have with participants is valuable, and I don’t want them to burn out – and selecting emotions from 118 cards sounded like way too much! (when I do card sorts I try to have a max of 80 otherwise I notice that some participants flip out and try to rush through the exersise to complete it in time).

    For a current project, I do want to get some directed feedback on an existing process, and a hypothetical process… Something I’m thinking about is hand selecting about 5 emotions and asking for participants to rank on Likert scale and give some feedback.

    Any thoughts on this approach?

  5. simplerisbetter


    Yep I am completely sympathetic to your comment, doing this takes a minimum of 10 minutes. Whether you are able to justify this amount of time during a user research session will depend entirely on your objectives for the session.

    I have used it when the client explicitly has asked to find out about the softer, emotional response to a system.

    Your alternate suggestion sounds reasonable, but before you re-create the wheel, what about trying bi-polar emotional response testing (BERT). It does kind of what you’re saying with your Likert thing. The BBC talk about the use of BERT in the Glass Wall paper.

  6. Hi Iain, thanks for that suggestion!

    At the moment I have about 2 weeks to think about this before research starts. I’ve still deciding between the emotional response cards and ‘the Likert thing’ ๐Ÿ˜‰

    The BERT approach is interests me… but I’m not convinced about the graphical presentation of the results because the response pairs don’t have any relation to what is above or below them, but they are connected with lines – forming arbitrary peaks and valleys. It also looks like just a few single responses could change the visual (would Yahoo look so fat if the edge red and yellow lines were not there?)

    But maybe I’m misunderstanding how the graphs are plotted?

  7. simplerisbetter


    It depends on who you are doing this for and what their expectations are. I think the BERT presentation gives you what you’d get from Likert plus a sense of the level of agreement between subjects, whereas Likert will just give you the average response. But you’re right it could be a bit confusing.

    Basically the fatness of the line indicates the level of agreement. Yes it means that one person’s response can make a response unduly fat, but you still have the mean line indicated.

    I think an exercise like this is as much about the other things that people say while completing the exercise, so I wouldn’t threat too much about which option to use.

    For one client I used the output of the product reaction card exercise to create a ‘tag cloud’ presentation of results. It worked for the client in question, but I received some interesting responses from others – you can see my posting about that at

  8. I read this blog post a while ago. Recently I ran some business stakeholder workshops and used the principle of product reaction cards to help focus discussions. I have written a blog post about my it. Would love to get your ideas on this.

  9. I’ve been thinking about these for a while too, but have a different set of concerns.

    a) For reactions to content-rich sites, the list of words doesn’t seem relevant enough. Sure there are some relevant terms, but a lot are more suited to applications or other products

    b) I’m not sure that all the words will be understood by some people (e.g. international students, people with poor educational backgrounds). I’d like to use more common, everyday words or phrases (so all participants have the same depth of vocabulary to choose from)

    Any thoughts…???

  10. Pingback: ➜ Visualising Aspirations (With Post-It Notes) ➜ Nice Touchpoints Only. Thank you (a blog on customer experience by Mathew Sanders)

  11. Pingback: Organised approach to emotional response testing and research โ€” ยป ux, social, gov

  12. Some interesting usability work done using these cards by Carol Barnum and Laura Palmer. I was particularly interested to see them used as a qualitative measurement of multiple prototypes over time and that they could show consistency of feedback between face-to-face and remote participants.

  13. For I cut the list of words down to around 70. Although it is still a lot it seems to be manageable based on initial feedback.

  14. The October 2011 WritersUA User Assistance Update (distributed yesterday) has an excellent article on using Product Reaction Cards entitled “Users Play Cards. We Keep Score. Magic Results!” by Carol Barnum and Laura Palmer. I recommend it.

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