Archive for April, 2010

April 30, 2010

Positive Psychology

User Experience is about happiness and well-being. As I wrote elsewhere: “Usability wants us to die rich, UX wants us to die happy.” In that sense, Experience Design is about designing interventions, which make people feel better – or happier? – or make their lives more meaningful? – or less miserable? You get it … this is where the trouble starts. If we want to design for experience, we not only need to think about what experience is, but also what our design goal is. Because, as I would argue, there are plenty of different joys and forms of happiness, each following its own set of rules.

When looking for theory and research on happiness, Positive Psychology is a first place to stop. Initiated by the prominent psychologists Martin Seligman and Mihaly Csikszentmihaly Positive Psychology devotes itself to the study of the positive sides of human life. Far from settled and from my point of view, sometimes with the touch of esoteric self-help, Positive Psychology however asks the right questions.

Have a look at Martin Seligman’s engaging introduction to Positive Psychology.

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April 28, 2010

Meet Greenbro

Energy is precious and the demand to save it is ubiquitous. A necessary precondition for saving is the knowledge about personal consumption. Products such as smart meters capture that information and convey them to people in form of kilowatt hours and consumption curves. However, from a psychological perspective, we not only want to make information available to people, we also want them to act upon the information. This may require alternative ways of displaying energy consumption: more ambient, more aesthetic, more asking, or more humorous. So far it is unclear, which strategy will work best for initiating energy-saving behaviour? Thus, we engage in experimenting with different forms of what we call “transformational products” – products with the main purpose of changing people.

In that vein, Jan Brechmann and Arne Loermann explored the idea of a cute, autonomous pet-like creature, which calls energy consumption to the attention of its owner and “rats on” the most notorious devices in the household – Meet Greenbro.

Take a look at Jan and Arne’s project page at the Dyson Award and vote for them!

April 22, 2010

Special Issue: Experience Design – Applications and Reflections

It took a while to post it, but here it is … Already last year, Mark Blythe, Effie Law and I edited a special issue on Experience Design in the New Review of Hypermedia and Multimedia. It features a more designerly perspective on and some reflections about Experience Design itself and its relation to common approaches and views in Human-Computer Interaction and Design.

Take a look at the editorial:

Blythe, M., Hassenzahl, M., and Law, E. (2009). Now with added experience? New Review of Hypermedia and Multimedia, 15(2):119-128.

The table of contents is:

  • Toward an articulation of interaction esthetics by Jonas Löwgren
  • Designing for human emotion: ways of knowing by Danielle Lottridge and Gale Moore
  • Mood Swings: design and evaluation of affective interactive art by Leticia S. S. Bialoskorski, Joyce H. D. M. Westerink, and Egon L. van den Broek
  • Designing for playful photography by Marianne Graves Petersen, Sara Ljungblad, and Maria Håkansson
  • Designing in the face of change: the elusive push toward emotionally resonate experiences by Matt Schoenholz and Jon Kolko
April 17, 2010

Aesthetics in interactive products: Correlates and consequences of beauty

Hassenzahl, M. (2008). Aesthetics in interactive products: Correlates and consequences of beauty. In Schifferstein, H. N. and Hekkert, P., editors, Product Experience, chapter 11, pages 287-302. Elsevier.

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April 12, 2010

The “Beauty Dilemma”

Diefenbach, S. and Hassenzahl, M. (2009). The “beauty dilemma”: Beauty is valued but discounted in product choice. In Proceedings of the CHI 09 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, pages 1419-1426. ACM.

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April 5, 2010

M!nd – Can back-up be fun?

Everybody knows it is important – but nobody is actually doing it. Or did you back-up your personal data, your pictures, music, and movies lately? Johannes Neusel created a concept for a slate PC, M!nd, which makes back-up fun and a little  more likely by explicitly integrating external data back-up into the docking station.  Data is not just back-up’ed but “poured” into the external hard drive. Instead of using a nagging minder, data unobtrusively clots in the lower right corner of the screen the more the data on the slate is asynchronous with what is on the back-up drive. If the difference gets bigger, the screen gets askew. This is a strong, yet natural call for action: “Back-up and make me straight again”.

Read Johannes’ full thesis (in German).