Design Behavior

Scenes Components Design
Lens: Type: Behavior
Design Behavior:

The way a product, service, or system acts when it is used.

How does the design behave? Does an app smoothly scroll? What are the steps, mechanisms, and processes involved in using a service? These can change depending on circumstances. For example, a bicycle may behave differently on wet roads than on dry roads. For objects, behaviors are the outcomes of use—the act of using design. When design objects are used in different ways by different people, and in different contexts, they behave differently.

Though they are inanimate and artificial, designs can behave differently depending on the setting they inhabit. If it’s raining outside, a paper poster will melt when a plastic-coated poster would stand up to the rain just fine. Descriptions of design behaviors are pretty straightforward—simply describe what the object is doing. When products, services, and systems are used, designers discover how designed outcomes can be improved or applied in new ways.

Design-specific characteristic aspects.



Style Material Size: Design


State Operation

Researching Design Behavior

Researching how an object behaves can be context-specific. Notice how a product, service, or system “acts.” What does it do when people use it as it was intended to be used? Does it emit sounds? What it does when it breaks down? Objects can behave very differently when used by different people and in different contexts.

Questions to Ask About Design Behavior

In what ways does this object/service/system behave?

Is the object doing what it was intended to do?

Look for These When Researching Design Behavior

  • Steps it takes to use the design outcome
  • Moments when service changes due to different conditions
  • Sounds and other sensory outputs the object emits
  • If the object breaks or shows signs of weakness

Design Behavior Examples

  • A phone plays the Star Spangled Banner when it rings
  • A car is rolling down the driveway
  • A menu is scrolling up when the webpage scrolls
  • A backpack zipper has derailed for the 40th time (a new zipper design or even a different fastener would be a better idea)
  • When the website is displayed on a phone, all of the tables are illegible
  • The wait for a ride on the Banshee roller coaster is no longer than three minutes after 9 p.m.


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