Designing experiences

Some people (IxD/UX designers) think experiences cannot be designed. Wrong. People experience by navigating flows, and we can define those flows, making them easy/easier.

Experience does not equals to perception, though perception informs it. Experience is about doing something (and learning from), which requires a path, which we design, e.g. by creating a scenery path through a forest or canyon, we can optimise flow and goal achievement, thus enhancing the experience.

As gothic cathedrals emphasised a sensation of “smallness”, design can emphasise an intended experience, with a goal in mind. Thus, though experience cannot be determined, perceptions, paths and collection of them, and consequently the creation of a memory for a site (in both meanings as space and web property) can be guided.

If we visit the Sixtine Chapel, in Rome, and we decide to hire a Guide, we’ll end up with much more information, given to us in the proper context, that if we just roam the space by ourselves, depending only on perception and memory to map all the information the space offers. Similarly, we can provide the proper cues, inflections and comments, and even the right turns, in order to inform and enhance comprehension of the vast, complex amount of artwork the chapel offers us.

In web design, there’s also the notion of goal, or what the person intends to achieve, guided by their current desire or need (e.g. “learn about the artwork of Michelangelo, Raphael, Bernini, and Sandro Botticelli”), and to do, guided by their mental model (e.g. “by visiting the spaces and viewing the real artwork in context I can understand it better”). These goals and processes can be guided and informed by a contextually-aware strategy that maximises contact and absorption of information, thus satisfying the goals better while enhancing the process.

By defining it so, we can thus conclude (I presume) that the experience (the “visit”) has been elevated to a different level, as two persons, one with the guide and another without it, could argue.

Is that what I refer as to “designing the experience”.

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