Challenge 8


Desmet and Hekkert (2007) provide a
framework for the three human-product interactions: 1) instrumental
interaction, 2) non-instrumental, and 3) non-physical. Across these three
interactions, users affective responses are elicited. The user experience can
cover a wheel of different emotions, from inspiration and love, to more
negative experiences such as contempt and jealousy. As the authors note
however, there are often a convergence of factors that lead to different
experiences, and it is not typically a direct product-to-user interaction that
causes a discrete emotion. A powerful reminder is that “experience is shaped by
the characteristics of the user (e.g., personality, skills, background,
cultural values, and motives) and those of the product (e.g., shape, texture,
colour, and behaviour).” The bevy of interactions possible make it difficult
sometimes to find causal effects on experience.

The authors break down experience
into three categories: aesthetic experience, experience of meaning, and
emotional experience. I found it very valuable to look through the what I got’s,
and previous challenges in order to categorize which type of experience the
designers sought to elicit. In my first ever What I Got post, I discussed Air
Jordans and the cultural meaning those shoes represent. It is clear that Nike,
one of the most innovative companies in the world, designs their product to
elicit all three types of experiences. Aesthetic is an obvious one, as any shoe
designer would want their product to be aesthetically pleasing. However meaning
is something that is developed over time as a brand is carefully crafted; Nike
wants people to know “what it means” to be wearing their shoes. Meaning and
emotional experience in this case are tied together, as the emotion caused by
the idea of lacing up Air Jordan’s is directly caused by the societal meaning
these shoes carry. In some of the other What I Got, the user experiences weren’t
as obvious, but there were some that were subtle and impressive. The Elkay
water fountains purposefully put the number of bottles this machine has saved
in the top right hand corner of the machine; turning a rudimentary experience
of filling up a bottle of water into something that is fun and makes one feel
like they are contributing to the decrease in need for plastic bottles.

 How is it that companies go about
to create experiences of meaning and emotional experiences? While it is
possible to bring in small groups and iterate products until it is
aesthetically pleasing, the process of creating meaning in products does not
seem to be testable through small groups and instead seems to almost appear out
of nowhere. Apple is most famous for turning a technology company into a
high-end retail company (available to the masses) that is an incredibly
powerful cultural status.

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