Thursday, September 17, 2009

Experience Design is the Newest Field of Design

Experience design is an emerging field of designing products, processes, services, events, and environments with a focus placed on the quality of the user experience with less emphasis placed on improving functionality of the design. Experience design is often used today to refer to interactive web design but it also encompasses diverse disciplines such as theater, graphic design, storytelling, exhibit design, theme-park design, online design, game design, interior design, architecture, and so forth.

In 2001, Nathan Shedroff (right) wrote "Experience Design" (left) and created a website linking to all the examples in the book. Most of that is gone but he still has a website that gives you some of the flavor. (Click on the heading above to go to his website.)

Shedroff says there are, at least, 6 dimensions to experiences: Time/Duration, Interactivity, Intensity, Breadth/Consistency, Sensorial and Cognitive Triggers, and Significance/Meaning.

I sometimes have students start off the semester with an information design project (drawing, graphics, web, photography, video), followed by object design (prototyping and model-making) and environment design (redesigning the room) and then end the semester with an open-house at which the students transform the room, display their work and design games and interactive activities demonstrating what they learned to other students, faculty, visitors, and friends. The task for the Open House is to create an interactive environment in which the visitors become participants and come to understand what the students learned by interacting with their exhibits, games, and activities.

It feels like a party (including food, drinks, music, special lighting, and student produced videos) but it is a basic introduction to the idea of thinking about how people will experience your work rather than focusing on the work itself. David Kelley and the folks at IDEO often present clients with a video of a design being used rather than a model or prototype of the design.

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