I’m a bit behind in my design jargon, so I have to admit that this “experience design” thing kind of crept up on me. I probably would have blissfully ignored the whole phenomenon if I hadn’t discovered that the local AIGA design awards offered eight categories for ink on paper and grouped everything else – from websites to video to “environments” – under the heading of Experience Design.
Personally I gave up fancy titles a dozen or so years ago when I decided “information architect” sounded a bit pretentious for someone who created charts and maps for a newspaper. And I’ve been content to be a simple “web designer” for the last ten years so I was surprised to find I had suddenly become an “experience designer.” Well, if I’m going to be one, I should probably know what it is. Accoding to Wikipedia:
“Experience design is the practice of designing products, processes, services, events, and environments — each of which is a human experience — based on the consideration of an individual’s or group’s needs, desires, beliefs, knowledge, skills, experiences, and perceptions. An emerging discipline, experience design attempts to draw from many sources including cognitive psychology and perceptual psychology, cognitive science, architecture and environmental design, haptics, product design, information design, information architecture, ethnography, brand management, interaction design, service design, storytelling, heuristics, and design thinking.”
I don’t mean to brag, but I’ve actually heard the word heuristics (although using it in a sentence is still beyond me) but HAPTICS? Come on! Anyway, it turns out haptics (which my spell checker doesn’t even recognize) is, again according to Wikipedia, the “study of touching.” Well that particular study is explicitly forbidden by the sexual harassment policy at the school where I teach, so I won’t be teaching that course.
It’s (way too) easy to make fun of the AIGA’s inky parochialism and Wikipedia’s verbosity but experience design is a serious profession practiced by (deadly) serious people. And, to be fair, I should let one of them describe the profession. For that I turn to self-proclaimed, experience design consultant, Bob Jacobson who describes the field as, “an emerging paradigm, a call for inclusion: it calls for an integrative practice of design that can benefit all designers, including those who work in the new, interactive media.”
Perhaps, one day, if the emerging paradigm ever gets around to including a well designed definition that I can understand, I’ll embrace the label. Until then, I think I’ll be content to be just a simple web designer.