Lens: Type: Magnifying Glass

A person’s determination to complete an activity.

Photo: cottonbro
man reaching for a book

People will go out of their way if they are motivated to do something. Their intention drives their actions and keeps them focused on completing the task at hand (Ajzen, 1991). A person who is intent on earning free swag will take time away from other activities and will the time to input My Coke Rewards codes into the Coke website every time they drink Coke products. When someone is intent on completing an activity, they are motivated to complete it, and they focus their attention on it.

Someone sho is determined to complete an activity will also not be as attentive to other stimuli. For example, if people are intent on getting to Space Mountain at the back of Disneyland Theme Park right when the park opens (motivated to avoid long queue lines), anything placed in their way, such as promotional advertising, will likely be ignored. They could also neglect to notice they forgot to put their 3-year-old daughter back in the stroller on Main Street USA, and now they have to go back to find their child.

Intention is more complicated than rewards programs and helpful behavior. Dan Pink talks about this in his TED talk: The Puzzle of Motivation.

Intention Examples

  • A man is motivated to get fit before his high school reunion
  • A married couple is dedicated to improving the way they communicate with one another
  • A child in middle school feels forced to complete an algebra assignment
  • An influencer is dedicated to increasing their Instagram follers by 20% in one year

Concepts Related to Intention

  • Intrinsic Motivation
  • Extrinsic Motivation

Researching Intention

When designers discover a person’s intent in an experience design scene, they can better understand that person’s goal-directed activity. Researching intention reveals what a person is focused on doing and also how focused they are on completing it. With this knowledge, designers can create products, services, and systems that align with intent in-the-moment within an experience design scene. Sometimes, designers may even find they should create outcomes that reduce intent, in cases where a person may be motivated to complete a harmful activity such as smoking or spending too much time using a smartphone.

Questions to Ask About Intention

  • What is this person trying to achieve at this moment?
  • What degree of intent—how potent—is their motivation?
  • Why is this person intent on completing this activity?

Look for These When Researching Intention

  • The way people talk about an activity or goal
  • What people go out of their way to do


References and sources that support the inclusion of this Aspects of Experiences for Design component.


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