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Danny Bluestone

Experience Design and playing on the senses

Posted by June 18, 2010
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I saw James Jesse Garret at UX London last month (end May 2010). His talk had a big impact on my thought patterns. In this short article I am summarising my notes from the event.

James was an advocate of Nielsen-Norman-Togg’s philosophy and wrote ‘The Elements of User Experience’ which has a major impact on web design folk world-wide. His original diagram of ‘how to create a website / software’ was created almost ten years ago (below) and had a major influence on my own UX processes and work throughout the years.

The elements-of-user-experience diagram

Besides his role in defining user experience processes, he coined the term AJAX in 2005. Later that year he received Wired Magazine’s Rave Award for Technology. I consider James an evangelist in preaching innovative user experience processes and thought patterns.At UX London 2010 James started by saying that “User Experience design (or Experience Design as he calls it) has dramatically changed and now encompasses multiple domains”. He proceeded to say that the role of a UX (User Experience) designer is to create multi-channel experiences and to provide the audience with “orchestration”:

Experience design is independent of a medium

•   ‘Use’ – Makes user experience have a meaning

•    Experiences are intangible and subjective

•    How do we define a great experience? Through ‘Engagement’

The senses

By ‘playing’ with human senses, designers can create immersive engagements. By looking at other creative disciplines we can learn how to ‘manipulate’ the senses:

1. Sense of sight –  Movie directors and cinematographers lead viewers to focus on strategic areas using narrative

2. Sound –  Beethoven orchestrated his musicians (the implementation team) indulging audiophiles through the sense of sound.

3. Smell –   When walking into a luxurious spa one is immersed by the scents of oils and aromatherapy creating a sense of calmness.

4. Taste – Chefs from various cuisines often play with our sense of ‘taste’ creating excitement. By staging a meal and separating it into various stages they can create anticipation.

5. Sense of Balance & Notion – Garret announced a fifth sense which plays on our physical sense of balance. He claimed that ‘Mirrors Edge’ a ‘first person’ addictive computer game makes some players ‘sick’…

According to Garret there are 4 dimensions of notions:

• Perception – Visual design moulds our perception into what the designer wants.

• Cognition – By using Information Architecture designers govern how the mind processes information.

• Emotion – Sometimes humans make illogical and emotional decisions. Emotional thinking has been widely documented by Donald Norman in books such as ‘The Design of Everyday Things’.

• Action – The notion of action involves the ‘engagement’ of the body and includes touching and clicking.

The goal of the designer is to engage as many of these notions as possible.

James concluded his keynote by announcing that the role of a UX Designers is to analysis, synthesis and orchestrate. This is challenging because every human is different and has unique capabilities, distinctive contextual understanding and constraints.

To implement a successful user experience we need to consider audiences carefully looking at the polar extremes of users. What might seem obvious to one user may be difficult for another. This can be solved by involving all types of users in the Experience design process.

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  • Free Range Web: Looks like a great night was had by all. Congratulations to you and your team
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