Forlizzi, J. , and Battarbee, K. (2004) Understanding Experience in Interactive Systems

Forlizzi and Battarbee have created an interaction-centered framework of experience. It focuses on interactions between individuals and products and the experiences that result. The framework describes user-product interactions, and dimensions of experience.

User-product interactions are described in three ways:

1.    Fluent user-product interactions are the most automatic ones that do not compete for our attention. For example, riding a bike.

2.    Cognitive user-product interactions result in knowledge, or confusion and error if a product does not match anything in our past history of product use. For example, foreign toilets – either you figure out how to use them or leave without flushing.

3.    Expressive user-product interactions help the user form a relationship to a product through modifying or personalizing a product. For example, customizing cars.

Types of experience are of three dimensions:

1.    Experience is how we constantly assess our goals relative to the people, products, and environments that surround us at any given time. For example, walking in a park.

2.    An experience is something that could be articulated or named; it has a beginning and an end, and often inspires emotional and behavioral changes in the experience. For example, watching a movie.

3.    Co-experience takes place as experiences are created together, or shared with others. For example, playing a mobile messaging game with friends.

In addition to the ways to describe user-product interactions and the types of experience, the authors discuss emotion and the scalability of experience. Emotion shapes the gap between people and products in the world. Social contexts play a role in how we feel, express, and modify our emotions, as well as the resulting meaning that is made. Scalability of experience means the infinite amount of smaller user-product interactions and emotional responses that build up to yield larger experiences over time.

The framework can be used by designers who can offer a perspective on what kinds of user-product interactions and experiences a system might offer, and how these experiences might change over time. This requires a thorough understanding of the users, which can be achieved through conversation analysis methods or ethnographic methods. The concepts in the framework offer ways to seek meaning in people’s interactions, be they alone or together with others.

The main message of this paper is that an interaction-centered view is the most valuable for understanding user experience and their framework of user experience can be used to understand and generate kinds of interactions and experiences that new products might offer.

The authors define user experience as “how people interact with products, other people and the resulting emotions and experience that unfold”.

Forlizzi, J. , and Battarbee, K. (2004). Understanding experience in interactive systems. In the Proceedings of DIS2004, 261-267.