diversification of minds - conversation in processes
design for communities

Tokyo, 07.10 - 09.10 1999

10 07 pm<Case Studies of Information Design Strategies>
Liz Sanders, Sonicrim, Lafayette, USA

Expanding the Scope of Information Design:
From Information to Experience

Design for Experiencing
Information Design began in the 1980šs as a user-centered design activity. Its aim was to design information with the user in mind. Interaction Design, with its emphasis on the time course of information exchange, followed. Today we are beginning to hear about 'Experience Design' whose aim is to design usersš experiences of things, events and places.

If we can learn to access peoplešs experiences -past, current and potential- then we can make user experience the source of inspiration and ideation for the design process. And by making user experience the source of inspiration, we are better able to design for experiencing.

How Do We Access Experience?
There are many ways we can learn from people about their memories, their current and their ideal experiences:
We can listen to what people say.
We can interpret what people think.
We can watch what people do.
We can observe what people use.
We can uncover what people know.
We can understand how people feel.
We can appreciate what people dream.

Listening to what people say tells us what they are able to express in words (i.e., explicit knowledge).
Watching what people do and seeing what they use provides us with observable information (or observed experience).
Discovering what people think and know provides us with their perceptions of experience. Understanding how people feel gives us the ability to empathize with them. This way of knowing provides tacit knowledge, i.e., knowledge that canšt readily be expressed in words. Seeing and appreciating what people dream shows us how their future could change for the better. It is another form of tacit knowledge that can reveal latent needs, i.e., needs not recognizable until the future.

The ability to not just know, but also to empathize with the user comes only at the deepest levels of expression. By accessing peoplešs feelings, dreams and imaginations, we can establish resonance with them. Special tools are needed to access the deeper levels of expression. New 'MAKE' tools are beginning to emerge.

When all three perspectives (what people do, what they say, and what they make) are explored simultaneously, one can more readily understand and establish empathy with the people who use products and information systems.

The MAKE tools provide a shared visual language that connects the thoughts and ideas of people from different disciplines and perspectives, quickly becoming a new language for co-design. They have been found to facilitate the exchange between experiencers and the people who design for experiencing. The MAKE tools are a 'design language' for users, not just for designers; a design language built upon an aesthetics of experience rather than an aesthetics of form.

Design is Changing
The roles of designer and design researcher are becoming mutually interdependent. Their roles are converging to the point where they are blurring. The new role for the designer is in the creation of the tools and the experiences the tools afford for creative expression by the users and other stakeholders. This makes the deliverables of design more meaningful to all the people who will ultimately benefit.

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