A number of models and theoretical approaches have been developed to help designers understand experience. These approaches examine experience from a number of perspectives. We have grouped them into product-centered, user-centered, and interaction-centered models.
Product-centered models provide straightforward applications for design practice, assisting designers and non-designers in the process of creating products that evoke compelling experiences. User-centered models help designers and developers to understand users. These models integrate knowledge from other disciplines to offer ways to understand people's actions, and aspects of experience that people will find relevant when interacting with a product. Interaction-centered models explore the role that products serve in bridging the gap between designer and user. Here, too, we see approaches from a number of disciplines.
Our model of co-experience employs three ways to describe user product interactions, and three ways to describe the resulting experience. Fluent user-product interactions are the most automatic and well-learned ones. These types of interactions do not compete for our attention; instead, they allow us to focus on the consequences of our activities or other matters. Cognitive user-product interactions focus on the product at hand. These types of interactions can result in knowledge, or confusion and error if a product does not match anything in our past history of product use. Expressive user-product interactions are interactions that help the user form a relationship to a product, or some aspect of it. In expressive interaction users may change, modify, or personalize, investing effort in creating a better fit between person and product. These interactions may be expressed also as stories about product relationships.
These user-product interactions unfold in a particular context, yielding what we characterize as three types of experience. The first, experience, is the constant stream of "self-talk" that happens while we are conscious. Experience is how we constantly assess our goals relative to the people, products, and environments that surround us at any given time. An experience is more coalesced, something that could be articulated or named. This type of experience may be characterized by a number of product interactions and emotions, but is schematized with a particular character in one's memory and a sense of completion. An experience has a beginning and an end, and often inspires emotional and behavioral changes in the experiencer. Co-experience is a third way to talk about experience. Co-experience is about user experience in social contexts. Co-experience takes place as experiences are created together, or shared with others. People find certain experiences worth sharing and "lift them up" to shared attention. Shared experiences allow a range of interpretations by others, from the expected and agreeable to the unusual or even deviant.
Forlizzi, J. and Battarbee, K. "Understanding Experience in Interactive Systems.: DIS04 Conference Proceedings, Cambridge, MA, August 2004, 261-268. [local pdf, 408 KB]
Forlizzi, J., Ford, S. (2000). "The Building Blocks of Experience: An Early Framework for Interaction Designers." Designing Interactive Systems 2000 Conference Proceedings, New York, NY, 419-423. [local pdf, 40 KB]
Copyright 2008 Jodi Forlizzi.