“Experience or User Experience is not about good industrial design, multi-touch, or fancy interfaces. It is about transcending the material. It is about creating an experience through a device.”
While a single blog post is not enough to cover the incredibly deep and growing world of experience design this post is based upon literature from interaction.org, in particular a piece written by Marc Hassenzahl a professor researching into the positive and motivational effects of interactive technologies.
The view taken here of how our culture is moving away from materialistic concerns towards the more intangible experiential world is an interesting notion. It provides insight into how user experience design is being designed and why it seems to have become so much more important over recent history than the more traditional industrial and efficiency led design of the late 1980’s and 1990’s as we move into a post-materialistic world. While much of this can be linked back to research into human computer interaction this represents a complete shift in how a product or piece of software should be designed.
The example used here to demonstrate his point was the Buddha machine developed by a musical duo from chine it is designed to be meditative experience rather than a piece of musical technology. By eliminating much of the extra functionality found on many similar mp3 like devices and giving it a clear and defined purpose for assisting in the meditative experience it provided the pleasurable experience to the user rather than “It is a technology that offers a meaningful, valuable, and aesthetic experience and not just a bunch of functions, leaving it to the users to figure out how to incorporate them into their daily lives.” A perfect example of post-materialistic product.
The thoughts here are that it is not the technology or product which directly gives the user pleasure it is the experience surrounding the product itself. Mobile phones are a prime example of this referenced by marc in the text. While the iPhone is in many ways no different from any other phone, it is the way in which it allows you to use its features which gives the user pleasure. Even then it goes further than that to say that it is less so the features of the phone and more the experience it allows you to have when connecting and communicating to other people, which transcends the technology almost entirely and relates back to notions of cyborgs in that the phone is simply just an extension of the human beings ability to communicate. It is the experience of connecting to other people in a simple and easy way which gives the user an emotional and memorable experience, it is the user’s need-fulfilment which makes the experience pleasurable. Marc use of Russells (2003) model of emotions in this context has also lead me to researching and hopefully using the model within the HCD project.
An example marc uses to demonstrate this kind of need fulfilment design approach is the “’Swantje Krauß’ diploma design project”. This was simply a bucket redesigned to assist with the grape harvest on a vineyard. However the entire experience and needs of the user where incorporated into the design. Its redesigned form included the ability to use the bucket as a seat. However it could be used in this fashion once it was empty. This meant it took account the fact that the users will need to rake breaks and this is a part of the experience but also helps draw a clean line between work time when the bucket is in use and break time when it is empty and can be used as a chair. Also the chair hints at another part of user experience as it designed to be used outside amongst the vineyards meaning that while taking a break the user is allowed to experience the vineyards and outside country while having a break, a recognised and pleasurable part of the user experience reinforced by the bucket.
Marc makes a point of stating that the experience should be designed before the product. While this will no doubt be effective for certain applications in terms of working together with IA and other areas for web and web app design it could possible fall short as it might possibly hinder the overall information architecture if the two areas are not integrated correctly. Working out how to have these two disciplines work comfortably alongside each other within the HCD project will be a priority from here.