Designed products, services, and systems deserve careful inspection—it’s hard to live a day in modern society and not use something that was designed. In Things That Keep Us Busy: The Elements of Interaction (2017), Lars-Erik Janlert and Erik Stolterman gave designed outcomes their moment in the spotlight as “objects.” Objects were explored independently—not as things that are just related to other things or activities. Janlert and Stolterman referred to any design outcome as an object—a distinction that removes designed things from roles like “problem-solving” or “money-making,” emphasizing that objects are worth examining in their own right.
When objects are allowed to be themselves, we can discover fascinating details that reveal their impacts, inner workings, and how we can design them more effectively. After all, the universe is made up of mostly objects—Saturn, a Canadian Hemlock, a coffee cup—all objects (Harman, 2016). By reducing design to objects, much like how LaTour reduces all things into Actants in his Actor Network Theory, we may back away from the mess of objects and see the connections between them. We may see the constellations and how each designed outcome is related to another.
Products, services, and systems are artificial—made by someone or something for a purpose (Simon, 1996). These objects exist in contexts) and they are used by people. Sometimes these objects work perfectly for the people we intend. Sometimes they just create more problems. As design outcomes have become more and more a part of daily lives, learning their effects can help designers understand how they affect people and the environment.
Observations can produce descriptions of actors. Designers can document things like physical size, style, and makeup. Actors’ characteristics and behaviors directly define what they are and how they are working. However, they fall short of revealing more profound aspects of who they are, why they are, and their function in experience design scenes.
Click on any of the aspects to learn its role in experience design scenes at the characteristics and behaviors level.
Any participant in an experience design scene. A context, person, or design.
What about this object makes it unique?
The way a product, service, or system acts when it is used.
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.
A designer with experience mindset researches and designs with the tangible and the intangible in mind. When researching experience design scenes, these aspects can be targeted using different design research methods. Designing for complete experiences does not neglect these aspects. Instead, products, services, and systems are designed to align with these aspects and consider them as essential drivers for design decisions.
“Seeing” these aspects requires taking different perspectives—putting on a set of “lenses.” Bifocals, a magnifying glass, and a stethoscope enable the viewer to see different things. Explore scenes using each set of lenses to reveal new details about actors in experience design scenes (Gilmore, 2016).
Click on any of the aspects to learn its role in experience design scenes at the experience design level.
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.
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.
Harman, Graham. Immaterialism: Objects and Social Theory. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 2016.
Janlert, L.-E., & Stolterman, E. (2017). Things That Keep Us Busy: The Elements of Interaction. The MIT Press.
Simon, Herbert A. The Sciences of the Artificial. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1996.
Ritzer, George. Actor Network Theory. London: Sage, 2004.