Products, services, and systems can have very different meanings for different people depending on the person’s background and the experience design scene. For example, consider design outcomes created to hold liquid for drinking:
- Water Glass: holds water for drinking
- Champagne flute for a wedding reception: memento that will be cherished for decades
- YETI Tumblr: Technologically advanced drinking container that defies the elements.
While each of these outcomes holds liquid for drinking, they mean something very different for different people.
Different designs can mean the same thing to people depending on their historical context. In the 2010s, smartphones are synonymous with “freedom” for 13 year-olds just as cars meant “freedom” for teens in the 1950’s. The meaning of a design can shift depending on contextual factors and on personal viewpoints.