Shedroff, N. (2001). Experience Design. Indianapolis: New Riders

These are notes taken whilst I was thinking about how important the physicality of something can be. I remembered Shedroff’s book from my BA and whilst I knew it wasn’t necessarily along the right vein, I hoped there would be some ideas about why the experience in itself was important.

These notes relate to my research question “How can graphic design practice be enhanced through the exploration of materiality?” which I am looking at from a very literal “physicality” angle.

think of an experience as requiring an attraction, an engagement and a conclusion. P4

Shedroff goes on to mention “a signal to our senses” which ties in to my theories about how something only needs to look like it can be touched. Computers have come a long way since 2001, so has the web. Things are much more realistic and it’s easier to emulate the physical properties of things. Within web design the user can’t actually touch it, but using “textures” (patterns, really) people are trying to break the surface of the design and create a more immersive experience in really the only way they can. Being able to smell the web and have your (physical) mouse react to what you’re browsing never really took off. With sight and sound covered, the illusion of touch is all that remains.

The elements that contribute to superior experiences are knowable and reproducible, which make them designable. P2

I noted this down because it reiterates the point – we know something printed on quality paper is likely to get held on to more so than something which crumples and gets lost in a pocket or bag. We know a button on a website that looks like a button you could poke with your finger is more likely to get clicked.

All experiences are important and that we can learn from then whether they are traditional, physical or offline experiences. P2

If experiences are important, then isn’t it worth making them as good and memorable as possible? I’m not saying that always using “textures” is the right way to go, because every design is different, but it’s something worth bearing in mind as an experience enhancer.

Most technological experiences – including digital and especially, online experiences – have paled in comparison to real world experiences. P3

Right. They still do. So why not add a little depth?

Actually performing an activity is almost always more memorable than simply watching. Because our whole body is involved in the activity, our kinetic, olfactory, and tactile memory is stimulated in addition to our visual and sonic memory. This creates a richer experience and binds our memories together often in subconscious ways. P50

It may not be that we can actually touch or feel something, but the idea that we can is often enough.

Metaphors are one way to build a cognitive model, and they can be very powerful in orienting people to help them understand an experience. P102

These tactile qualities are also visual clues as to what the design is trying to communicate. They can go a long way to helping a design overall.

Experiences that seem to adapt to our interests and behaviours (whether real or merely simulated) always feel more sophisticated and personal. P184

I’ve read a lot about how touch is quite an intimate sense, which explains why it creates a deeper relationship between the user and the design. Ultimately this is what you want, because the user is then more compelled to do something about it.

At the time of its publication in 1991, the book Griffin & Sabine was touted as one of the best book experiences because of it’s innovative interface, which was tied to a narrative that supported such an unusual construction. The book was written as a correspondence between two people on opposite sides of the world. They communicate in postcards and letters, and the book’s story is this conversation made physical.

It would have been easy for this idea to turn into a hollow gimmick. What saved the book and contributed to its success were the points of view of each writer, used as devices of both orientation and mysterious draw. P234

This is taking the material nature of something to the extreme, essentially it is what it is. This could work well for many things, but as Shedroff says could be too gimmicky. I think that finding the right balance and enhancing your user’s experience is the best way to go.