Friday, October 12, 2007

Experience Design: Who Does It, What Is It, How Do You Do It?

An overview of the Experience Design discipline ...

"There is a lot of talk lately about “Experience Design”. Companies sell experience design, but don’t define what it is. On-line discussion groups debate who the virtuosos of the experience domain should be. Design educators wonder if they should be teaching it. And they wonder how they should be teaching it.

In this paper I will address the following questions:

* What is experience?

* What is experience design?

* Who is creative?

* How do you design for experiencing?

* Who are the real virtuosos of the Experience Domain?

* Does this perspective change design education? How?

What is experience?

Experience is a subjective event, felt only by the person who has the experience. Experience is ephemeral, i.e., lasting only for the moment. Experiences that have already been lived and felt I will call memories. Experiences not yet lived or felt, but imagined, I will call dreams.

Experiencing is the point where memory and imagination meet. Figure 1 shows the full set of experiences (i.e., memories, the current moment and dreams) in the experience domain.

The moment is inextricably woven into past memories. We interpret what is happening around us with reference to our past experiences. The moment is also tightly coupled to the dreams of our imagination. We interpret what is going on around us in anticipation of our hopes and fears for the future.

The images of experience described below have helped me to see it more clearly.

“Our future is cantilevered from the past…our present experience gains dimension and resonance when we can discern in it traces of the people, places, and sensations that left their mark on us and incline us to be the individuals we presently are”. (Wendlinger, 1995).

“A flimsy curtain separates memory from imagination” (Loftus and Calvin, 2001).

Loftus is referring to the work she has done in regarding memory reconstruction in the areas of eye-witness testimony and cases of alleged child abuse. But the metaphor also illuminates the ephemerality of the moment."    (Continued via Robin Good, Elizabeth B. - N. Sanders)    [Usability Resources]

The Experience Domain - Usability, User Interface Design

The Experience Domain


Blogger Bob.Jacobson said...


This article is a good effort. It would be much stronger, however, if it more convincingly tied people's reports to the experiences they've had, are having, or wish to have. That link remains open to question. Our tools for separating fact from fiction in this regard are thoroughly unreliable.

Even more important, the ability to design for experiences based on this knowledge is problematic, not certain at all!

Focusing on "user experience" by definition reduces people to "users." This externalizes the majority of the experiences they've had as non-users, just people living their lives. Yet these may be the most telling experiences of all. Designing for them may unlock doors that a more focused approach cannot.

However, Robin, you're not the only one who's prone to oversimplification; we all wish this was easier! Your overall thrust feels more correct, maybe because it's more modest, than many other prescriptions for experience design. Thanks.


7:11 PM  

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