Why, What & How?

For the fourth lecture we read about designing for experiences and how experiences are inherently subjective, and this made me wonder how it is possible to design for experiences when experiences is something intangible that changes over time? According to Hassenzahl (2013) an Experienceis intangible, is something subjective that happens immediately and changes over time, and furthermore is something that cannot be materialized, and does therefore differ from the tangible object itself. However, it is also underlined that “Things are not the opposite of experiences, but create and substantially shape them.” By that the materialized things take part in shaping an experience, which could mean that the subjective experience can be influenced by design. There are different types of experiences; User Experience, which revolves around the context of creating a meaningful experience through a device, though should be understood as a sub-category of Experience, when dealing with an experience shaped by interactive products. While on the other hand Experience design is the attempt of deliberately creating experiences. To experience something, can vary a lot therefore it can often be troublesome to create experiences that fit all individuals, this is something Harrison et. Al (2012) investigates in “Unlocking the Expressivity of Point Lights” where they investigate the different experiences of small LED lights used as indicators through different devices, where their study results in pointing towards people having similar impetrations of how a light should act in different contexts, as for instant when turning a device on or getting a notification using the LED lights. This made me wonder, if the experience always is subjective, how come can they all have almost the same interpretation of how the LED lights acts?  On one side, this could be that the behaviour of the lights is based on the reptile part of the brain, speaking directly to all human beings in the same manner. On the other, it could be that the people who took part in this experiment, came from the same cultural background, because if it was that easy to create an experience that fits all individuals, wouldn’t we all do it? To investigate this they conducted interviews with 256 males/females using simple random animated GIFs to see their reactions hereof. However, as this investigation points towards people having similar reactions towards the behaviour of the LED it makes me wonder, how can Experience design then consider people’s experiences and how can you make sure that people will make use of the artefact?

Source: https://www.interaction-design.org/literature/book/the-encyclopedia-of-human-computer-interaction-2nd-ed/user-experience-and-experience-design

To do so Hassenzahl (2013) proposes three levels to consider when designing for technology-mediated experiences, as seen in the above figure, visualising the three levels. These levels consists of Why, What and How.  The three levels can be understood as the following the first Why,is regarding the personal needs and emotions, what the meaning or experience there is when experiencing, this can vary a lot for instant to listen to music, can be because of the feeling you obtain listening to it, or help with the concentration.What addresses what people do when interacting with the product, and relies on the functional aspects such as listening to music the third and last level How regards the more operational aspects, such as the button you have to press when turning on the radio to listen to the music. However, when thinking of experiences we can only design for experiences, the experience cannot be designed itself. Therefore one must always consider that the experience holds with the subjective experience of oneself.

Harrison, C., Horstman, J., Hsieh, G., & Hudson, S. (2012). Unlocking the expressivity of point lights. In Proceedings of CHI2012 (pp. 1683-1692). ACM.

Hassenzahl, M. (2013) “User experience and experience design.” The Encyclopedia of Human-Computer Interaction.