Definition of “an experience-oriented approach”

Below, there is an extract (part of the introduction) from the paper “Experience-Oriented and Product-Oriented Evaluation: Psychological Need Fulfillment, Positive Affect, and Product Perception” by Hassenzahl, Wiklund-Engblom, Bengs, Hägglund, and Diefenbach (2015).

Sometimes I feel that we have diluted the notion of UX. However, this text reminds me that academia is there for the study and examination of phenomena, including the so-called UX, and that a good aspect of academic work is providing coherent and robust (based on previous research and studies) concepts and methods. What caught my attention from this paper is how it defines “experience-oriented approach” and includes the concepts of emotion, meaning, and dynamic story.


“Accordingly, Hassenzahl (2010) argued to put “experience before the product” (p. 63), which requires rethinking what technology actually is, why it matters, and what its intended effects are (Forlizzi & Battarbee, 2004; Hassenzahl, 2010; Hassenzahl & Tractinsky, 2006; McCarthy & Wright, 2004). As opposed to a task-oriented approach, the experience-oriented approach focuses on the personal, subjective side of interaction with a product, understanding interaction as a dynamic story, able to create emotions and meaning. Admittedly, we are far from a common accepted definition of what user experience could or should be (Law, Roto, Hassenzahl, Vermeeren, & Korte, 2009) and experience research can be biased and sub-optimal (Bargas-Avila & Hornbæk, 2011). But experience is at the heart of the emerging postmaterialistic, experiential society (Schulze, 1992) and economy (Pine & Gilmore, 1999). Technology firms can hardly afford to ignore it (Hassenzahl, 2011).

In addition to changes in how to think about or even design technology, a focus on experience suggests reconsidering the models and assumptions underlying well-accepted approaches to evaluation. So far, the “product” is often quite narrowly understood as the tangible set of materials it is made of (e.g., screens, keys, buttons, knobs, windows, sliders) and evaluation focuses on those material aspects. An experience-oriented perspective, however, acknowledges that people foremost create meaningful and memorable stories through interacting with a product. These stories become in fact a part of the product and in turn serve as a basis for a more explicit product evaluation. In other words, if asked about aspects of a product, such as its perceived usefulness or the quality of certain features, people will likely probe their memory for experiences they have had and then base judgments upon a particular or a collection of remembered moments. This process is so pervasive that it even works with imagined experiences (Rajagopal & Montgomery, 2011).

This calls for an extended perspective on evaluation, including products and experiences, as well as a better understanding of how people derive judgments from recollected experiences…
…[W]e define an experience (Forlizzi & Battarbee, 2004) as a retrospectively constructed personal narrative, based on feelings, thoughts, and actions remembered from a collection of moments…”

(emphasis added)



Participatory Design: making, telling, and enacting.

“Design participation is an evolving practice of making, telling and enacting. The iterative flow of events between these activities is essential, not only for participation to occur naturally, but for participation to occur with ease and with joy. When we can fully engage people’s minds, hearts and bodies in imagining and expressing future situations of use, we can be assured that they have an opportunity to influence future ways of living, learning and being.”


* Eva Brandt, Thomas Binder and Elizabeth B.-N. Sanders. Routledge Handbook of Participatory Design (Routledge International Handbooks) (p. 176). Taylor and Francis. 2012.