Experience design is a myth!

By Kate Jones

Experience design is a myth! Our CamCreatives CIC speaker, Elizabeth Buie PhD FRSA, explained why.

As we examined all the elements that go into an experience, we kept coming back to the question of how much of an experience can we actually design.

Elizabeth explained: she could go to a restaurant where the table settings, lighting, sound, furniture and everything are lovely. So far so good. But then the chef puts coriander on her dinner! Regardless of all the effort that’s gone into designing a pleasant experience, it would be an unpleasant experience for Elizabeth (she is one of the people genetically disposed to find coriander tastes like soap!).

Obviously, the chef hasn’t designed the experience to be unpleasant. But it’s unpleasant nevertheless.

Why? Because experience is subject to what the user brings to the situation.

What an individual brings to the experience is based on three core components:

  1. Context, or setting the stage. And in terms of designing the experience, this can be achieved in varying amounts.
  2. Lived experience where the user brings their own perceptions and reactions. Can we design for a lived experience? Not really!
  3. Integration or what the person does afterwards in response to the experience. This could be, for example, recommending a restaurant to your friends. This can be influenced, but not designed as it’s down to the individual to take the experience forward.

We need to understand the limitations of what we are designing. Ultimately we can design FOR an experience but we can’t design AN experience.

You can read more in Elizabeth’s blog post.

In the Q&A we discussed further the difference between experiences and interactions – especially in digital. And we also lamented over some terrible online experiences.

It would be great to hear your thoughts on user experience design.

Save the date for our end-of-year Christmas Cwiz: 19th December. There will be questions, tasks and PRIZES! Plus Christmassy nibbles. Grab your free ticket on our MeetUp page.

And finally! We are looking for speakers for 2024. If you’ve got an idea for a talk get in touch with one of the team.