Lens: Type: Behavior

Physical conditions and perceived attitudes in a setting.

Photo: Dave Haas
a bike outside in the snow

A setting’s climate is composed of real and perceived conditions. These conditions frame the context’s atmosphere. Actual climate conditions can include conditions such as relative humidity or temperature. These conditions are not just limited to outdoor spaces—a room can feel muggy and humid, which can affect how products, services, and systems function and can also impact people’s comfort in the setting.

Perceived conditions, such as prevalent attitudes or mindsets at a place and time, also have a bearing on experience design scenes. During national economic prosperity, such as the 1980s in the United States, attitudes—the “climate” of the country was mostly positive and hopeful. These attitudes, caused by external factors, can affect the decisions people make. During economic prosperity, citizens tend to have more disposable income, so they tend to spend more money on items that may not be deemed “essential.”

Researching Climate

When designers research a setting’s climate, they gain an understanding of the impression a context makes upon actors who are in it. Some environments can be observed, and their effects are known. Research into physical climates reveals how people and design outcomes will likely react to these conditions. Perceived conditions, such as prevalent attitudes in a setting, caused by political, economic, sociocultural, technological, legal, and environmental factors can affect what people value and in turn, their behaviors.

Questions to Ask About Climate

  • What is the physical climate in this setting?
  • What is the “normal” climate for this setting?
  • What are some extreme climates for this setting that could affect how people complete activities?

Look for These When Researching Climate

  • Air temperature
  • Rain
  • Changes in consumer spending
  • Festivals due to a national holiday celebration


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


Haukur, I. J., & Ingason, H. T. (2018). Project strategy. Milton Park: Routledge.

Porter, M. E. (1980). Competitive strategy: techniques for analyzing industries and competitors. New York: Free Press.

Social Sciences

Horanont, T., Phithakkitnukoon, S., Leong, T. W., Sekimoto, Y., & Shibasaki, R. (2013). Weather Effects on the Patterns of People’s Everyday Activities: A Study Using GPS Traces of Mobile Phone Users. PLoS ONE, 8(12), 1-14.