Experience Design = Driving Force in Modern Day Economics or the Next Frontier?

A recent entry on the logic+emotion blog discusses David Lee King‘s forthcoming book on digital experience design. In this book preview three main components of experience design for digital media (particularly websites) arise, namely:

Structure – Creating better experiences by improving a Web site’s ease-of-use. Great customer experiences happen when customers can focus on their own goals, rather than on how to navigate your site.

Community
– Memorable experiences are created via online participation and community. Learn how to start conversations with blogs and wikis, as well as how to use podcasting and videocasting to create a personal touch. Ideas to jump-start conversations are provided.

Customers – Finally, you will learn how to stage experiences online, with practical tips on turning negative experiences into memorable ones.

Structure obviously ties to 2nd wave notions of the user as a goal-oriented being seeking information to complete a task. With the dawning of the Web 2.0 age commeth Community, that is the experiences resulting from concrete interactions among community members that help define and sustain group identity–a notion classically tied to Barth, Anderson, and Turner’s separate (but respectively related) discussions on the nature of community construction. While it’s tough to tell from this brief description, Customers appears to set the stage for a substantial portion of the book, evoking a cookbook for designing memorable experiences-esque feeling. Cookbooks contain recipes that help us reproduce a meal at any given time barring we have the correct ingredients. Is experience design the same way? Should it be? Can it be?

A glance at this book’s description reveals it could be perceived as staunchly aligned with 2nd wave HCI–focusing on delivering guidelines for objectively reproducible methods and results.* Granted, this is oftentimes important (and not necessarily bad) in a rapidly changing market-driven industry context. Nonetheless, given this book’s explicit focus on experience design, a portion dedicated to the messy, unpredictable, and deeply meaningful dimensions of aesthetic experience is conspicuously absent.

If experience design is to continue being “the driving force in modern day economics,” then aesthetic experience ought be more seriously investigated and acknowledged in both academia and industry. While, critical approaches such as cultural probes and design ethnography, are making strides toward addressing this gap, there remains a wide open space for exploration and development. As experience design continues on its trajectory into modern economics, perhaps UX criteria will shift from “did you have a good or bad experience?” toward generating design implications based on rich dialogical and revelatory user-designer interactions that may be more apt to result in memorable–if not aesthetic–experiences.

*Again, this book isn’t slated to come out until November 2008 and this post isn’t a review, but rather a short critique illustrating the underlying assumptions in approaches employed by practitioners as well as the conceptualization of users.

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One Response to Experience Design = Driving Force in Modern Day Economics or the Next Frontier?

  1. anandkshitiz says:

    Nice post Will.
    I really like the three categories that is mentioned. In fact was discussing the same with a company recently. They did mention that these are the three domains that they are looking at for their future releases. Many places the words used are however not the same like using social networks, and virtual communities.
    Also customers can now be used differently. I remember last semester when discussing about remediation, we often felt, who are the new creators of media considering as their customers and clients? For them its never a thought to think about the customers, with more and more people contributing to creation of media in different forms.

    Seems these are the so called buzzwords these days!

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