Lens: Type: Characteristic

Facts, information, and skills a person has acquired.

man welding

People acquire different types of knowledge over time through experience or education. People can know facts, information, as well as skills. Facts are anything that is proven to be true, such as the measured circumference of the Earth. Information is news or knowledge that has been received or given about something. A person can know how to complete an activity; in other words, they know a skill. People apply their knowledge when they use a product, service, or system. The experience of using a design outcome can vary depending on the breadth or depth of a person’s knowledge. If a person has extensive knowledge of Apple’s iOS operating system but has to use a smartphone using the Android Operating System, their lack of expertise will likely cause many frustrations when navigating the device.

Designers should be careful when assuming some knowledge is superior to others. Traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) can be as advanced and useful as modern scientific knowledge, even though TEK may seem culturally-based and may lack mathematical rigor.

Knowledge Examples

  • Information
  • Facts
  • Skills
  • Experiences

Researching Knowledge

When designers know a person’s knowledge level, they know what content people can apply when using a product, service, or system. Knowing the skills a person possesses and their familiarity with user interfaces can help designers understand what processes to put into place and what procedures would be ineffective.

Questions to Ask About Knowledge

  • What does this person know?
  • How do these people learn?
  • What skills do these people have?
  • At what level are this person’s skills?

Look for These When Researching Knowledge

  • School grade level completed
  • Evidence of trade skills
  • The vocabulary people use
  • How well people navigate interfaces and places


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


Osterloh, M., & Frey, B. S. (2000). Motivation, Knowledge Transfer, and Organizational Forms. Organization Science, 11(5), 538-550.


Coxon, I. (2015). Fundamental aspects of human experience: a phenomeno(logical) explanation. In P. Benz (Ed.), Experience Design: Concepts and Case Studies (pp. 11-22). London: Bloomsbury Academic.

Forlizzi, J., & Ford, S. (2000, August 17-19). The building blocks of experience: an early framework for interaction designers. Proceedings from 3rd conference on Designing interactive systems: processes, practices, methods, and techniques (DIS ‘00), New York.

Jääskö, V., & Mattelmäki, T. (2003, June 23-26). Observing and probing. Proceedings from 2003 international conference on designing pleasurable products and interfaces (DPPI ‘03), Pittsburgh, PA.

Rust, C. (2004). Design Enquiry-Tacit Knowledge & Invention in Science. Design Issues, 20(4).


Dewey, J. (1939). Having an experience. In J. Dewey (Ed.), Art as Experience (pp. 35-57). New York: Capricorn Books.

Foucault, M. (1995). Discipline and punish : the birth of the prison. New York: Vintage Books.

(n.d.). The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved August 19, 2015 from

Formal Science

Losee, R. M. (1997). A Discipline Independent Definition of Information. Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 48(3), 254-269.

Social Sciences

Bandura, A. (1986). Social foundations of thought and action: a social cognitive theory. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall.

Berger, P. L., & Luckmann, T. (1990). The Social Construction of Reality: A Treatise in the Sociology of Knowledge. (Kindle ed.). New York: Open Road Media.

Fiske, S. T., & Taylor, S. E. (2017). Social cognition: from brains to culture. (3rd ed.). London: SAGE.

Merton, R. K. (1957). Social theory and social structure. Glencoe, Illinois: Free Press.

deJong, T., & Ferguson-Hessler, M. G. M. (1996). Types and qualities of knowledge. Educational Psychologist, 31(2), 105-113.