The experience and the user-experience

The experience and the user-experience

What I missed from the reading is a clear definition of experience and user experience, how they relate or differentiate from another and how we as humans or users perceive them. Experience is firmly tied to a product as described by Peter Merholz, Todd Wilkens, Brandon Schauer and David Verba in the book „Subject To Change“: „[…] when you truly empathize with the people you serve, you’ll realize that for them the experience is the product we deliver, and the only thing they truly care about.“ (Merholz et al, 2008, p.13)


Before diving in in user experience, let’s talk about experience itself. William Saroyan, a writer, once said: „Experience is the sum of made mistakes divided by the own stupidity.“ This quote shows that experience is not know-how. Experience is the unprocessed perception of events and the later reflection of them. So we learn from experience and build knowledge. We as humans perceive experience in different ways. There is physical (ex. touching), mental (intellect, consciousness and processing), emotional (more difficult processing, like falling in love), social (experience received from other people) and virtual / simulation (ex. games), subjective (every experience is individually) and – to complete the list – spiritual and religious experience. To give an example on why those different ways of experience perception are important to designers, I want to link to the text „Free, social and inclusive: Appropriation and resistance of new media technologies in Brazil“ by Heather A. Horst. Due to the price of PC’s Brazilians have a totally different experience of them. There are for example LAN houses where a PC’s is shared and therefore becomes a social thing.

User experience

User Experience short, UX is even more than just experience. It includes expectations, perception (experience) and reaction. Someone who take that by heart is George Eastman, the inventor of the Kodak camera with roll film. He did not just revolutionised the the camera, he also created an entire experience around photography. After you were done photographing with the easy to use camera, you could send in the entire film roll and the Kodak company developed it for you and sent you a fresh film for your next photos. The slogan he used to promote this was: „You press the button, we do the rest.“
When designing a product and starting with the experience the user should have, it can clearly help you focus on the important aspects, building the right features in the product and not loosing the big picture, like the company in the book did with their keyboard (Merholz et al, 2008, p. 83).
Furthermore, as soon as you see your customers as humans, a whole new perspective of the problem opens to you. Nevertheless do not try to create a utopian experience. You can not constrain the human to only one perfect experience. This can feel dictatorial and is therefore counterproductive to a positive experience.
Today, according to the Interaction Design Foundation, UX is divided in 7 characteristics: useful (fill a need), usable (easy to use), findable (information for problems or navigation to features), credible (trust), desirable (aesthetics), accessible (practicable with disabilities) and valuable (deliver value).

How to track user experience

We also covered the topic how to track user experience. Some sample measurement points could be:

To get to the data you can use again multiple methods. All of them can be reduced to those types:

The designer can look to experience from two angles: subjectivity and objectivity.

Communicating intimacy

On the second part of the presentation we learnt about communicating intimacy. We got introduced to the project "Communicating Intimacy One Bit at a Time". There they used a simple mechanism where a couple was connected through a simple dot in the menu bar.


When one participant pressed the dot it lightens up for the other participant. It is interesting how little is needed to communicate intimacy.
The similar principal can be found in the poke feature of Facebook or the App Yo.