What does it mean to have “an experience?” And how can we as interaction designers understand this phenomenon and design for it with intent? This was a major component of our philosophical and project based class: Experience Design.
To start, we need to explore what it means to be human. John Russon writes about the human experience as being structured on interpretation, synthesis, and temporality. The way we interpret our experiences says just as much about ourselves and our values, and like music, experiences are comprised of many elements that must be viewed as both their parts and the whole. (Russon)
In Technology as Experience, McCarthy & Wright say every experience is comprised of sensorial, emotional, compositional, and spatio-temporal qualities. This reflects Russon’s perspective but adds more physiological components. And in his book Flow, Csíkszentmihályi speaks of the optimal experience as a state of total immersion in which time seems to almost disappear and we temporarily suspend our reflective self-consciousness. These experiences can be intrinsically rewarding.
To design for these paradigms is a worthy feat for technologists. As digital interactions continue to evolve, we’re able to create more human-centered designs, leaving behind decades of “crappy UX.” Being able to identify the core emotions and aspirations of specific types people you’re designing for is critical as interaction designers and storytellers. This provides a clear context in which your design concept can emerge.
To me, one of the lessons I’ve learned most in this course is that it’s not enough to simply have a great design if the way you communicate it is insufficient, uninspiring, or difficult to follow. Because we’re dealing with emotions, abstractions, and interpretation, getting others to share your perspective and rationale is imperative.