Understanding users’ experience of interaction

Sascha Mahlke has written a paper called Understanding users’ experience on interaction. The paper introduces theoretical background to understanding users’ experience of interaction, a model of the user experience process and four experience dimensions.

From Mahlke’s point of view user experience can be used as an umbrella term to summarize all the relevant aspects of interaction. Non-instrumental qualities like hedonics, aesthetics and pleasure & fun are a big part of the experience. Emotions must be taken into account when designing a good user experience.

The model of user experience integrates relevant parts of user experience and provides the basis for further research. The model starts with system qualifications, continues to affective reactions and cognitive part (Information processing on experience dimensions which include instrumental and non-instrumental qualities) and ends with judgements and behavioral & emotional consequences. The processing of information about the quality of use on relevant experience dimensions is defined as the cognitive part within the basic user experience process. Instrumental quality dimensions are distinguished from non-instrumental quality aspects. On the one hand, information processing is influenced by the qualities of the interactive system. The user perceives these qualities within the interaction with the system. This information processing leads to various consequences of experience.

The experience dimensions are perceived usefulness, ease of use, hedonic quality and visual attractiveness. These dimensions were used in a research of a website. The results of a factor analysis showed that users perceived the four assumed experience aspects consistently and mostly independent. Together, the four factors explained approx. 79% of the total variance of the intention to use a website. The regression analysis to predict the intention to use demonstrated that the perceived usefulness had a main influence and explained 41% of the variance of the intention to use. However, the other three experience dimensions also contributed significantly to the intention to use.

Mahlke states that there are many open issues regarding affective and emotional reactions and further consequences of experience. A next step in understanding the interrelation of these different constructs is more empirical validation of the model. Methods for measuring relevant aspects of experience especially emotions are needed and have to be integrated. Another question is which design characteristics and features support a positive experience. The crucial question is how to design artefacts that cause desired perceptions of qualities, affects and emotions and lead to consequences the designer wants to achieve. While design for usefulness and ease of use is reasonably understood, the question about what leads to an interactive system being perceived hedonic or emotionally pleasing is not answered.

In my opinion Mahlke has created an interesting model but it is mostly concerning use experience – not user experience. A model for user experience must start somewhere before actually using the product.