Aspects that comprise people’s experiences live at many levels—some at the surface, others a little further down, and still others deeply buried inside contexts, people, and objects. James H. Gilmore’s Look: A Practical Guide for Improving Your Observational Skills challenges readers to use many lenses to observe the world around them. This concept is helpful for studying and designing experiences. When we put on different lenses, we can better understand contexts, people, and objects within experience design scenes.
Characteristics can be observed, measured, and shared in real ways. Qualities like physical size, style, materials, sex, and gender identity comprise what actors are—their physical and owned identities.
Contexts, people, and design change and act differently from time to time. The weather can behave differently from time to time as can people. Products, services, and systems can operate as expected, or they can behave erratically.
One of the three essential parts of the experience design scene. A context, person, or design.
Qualities that can be observed, measured, and articulated.
Ways context, people, and design act and change.
The physical spaces, ideas, and prevailing attitudes of a place and time affect experience design scenes.
A place and time where an experience design scene takes place.
Physical and social conventions that govern settings.
The dimensions of physical spaces where experience design scenes take place.
People and objects in a context that are not the user.
Materials available for use in a setting.
A person's internal and physical identity.
How long a person has lived.
A person's assigned sex at birth.
A person's race based on physical appearance.
A person's sense of their own gender.
A person's physical size.
A person's physical and mental condition.
Ways people relate to others and how they perceive themselves in those relationships.
Emotional and/or romantic attraction to another person.
Ways people are connected to others.
A classification based on a person's social and economic status.
Facts, information, and skills a person has acquired.
A person's distinctive character.
Anything designed—a product, service, or system.
A design’s distinctive appearance.
Physical materials that comprise a designed outcome.
The size of physical products and the complexity of services and systems.
We have to use special lenses—ways of seeing—to notice experience-level aspects. These aspects of contexts, people, and designs can be hard to notice but with a little effort and the right research tools, they can become clear and they often unlock underlying reasons why a product, service, or system creates a rewarding experience.
Four experience-level themes within experience design scenes.
Aspects of experiences that can be seen using common methods.
Aspects of experiences that are the heart of an actor.
External factors that can affect people and design actors in experience design scenes.
The duration of time in which experience design scenes take place.
Unwritten "rules" that define acceptable behavior.
Peoples' worldviews and self-concepts shape the ways they make meaning in different situations.
The bank of words and gestures a person knows and uses.
People during goal-directed activities.
Concentration on the activity at hand.
A way of thinking or feeling about an activity or design object.
What a person believes others will think of them when they perform a behavior.
Competence or skill to complete an activity.
The moment-by-moment interaction between people and designed outcomes.
The goal the product, service, or system is intended to achieve.
The measure of obstacles that prevent people from accessing a product, service, or system.
The relevancy of a designed outcome to people who use it for a purpose.
The measure of how intuitively a design can be operated.
A design’s functional, cultural, and emotional significance to those who use it.
References and sources that support the inclusion of this Aspects of Experiences for Design component.
Gilmore, J. H. (2016). Look: a practical guide for improving your observational skills. Austin, Texas: Greenleaf Book Group Press.