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Designing intriguing interactions: beyond usability and aesthetics

  • Thomas Visser
  • Sep 26, 2012
  • English

Technology has moved from the work domain into the leisure, home, and family context, and this UX-field is rapidly developing. In this light, principles such as usability and aesthetics of interaction are essential, but they are not sufficient to help designers in developing products and applications that deliver a truly intriguing user experience.

Why does Wordfeud engage thousands, while some other applications don't? Why is Flipboard so fascinating? Understanding why some interactions are intriguing, while other's are not, is crucial for being able to design such experiences. Intriguing interactions keep users engaged longer, they stimulate them to explore and develop themselves, and it will help companies to communicate a message in a way that it sticks.

The framework presented in this talk will start where theories such as Funology and Flow have stopped, and it will be highly valuable particularly for the UX-fields of gaming, education, and e-commerce. From interaction theory, and from examples in well known fine-art pieces - which have intrigued spectators for ages - a conceptual view on interactions was developed, which will help designers to understand intrigue, and develop intriguing interactive experiences.

Examples in art demonstrate almost forgotten principles in interaction design - ambiguity, serendipity, and surprise - and they help to understand how intriguing interactions can be shaped in interaction design. In this talk I argue that by using those principles, and thus carefully not always aiming to provide the user with exactly what he/she expects, designers can create experiences that are more intriguing than ever. I will close the talk by translating these principles into some examples and guidelines that explain how to do this.


Thomas Visser

Design researcher at Essense, ID-Studiolab

Thomas Visser is an interaction designer and design researcher. He was trained as a designer at the TU Eindhoven and also studied the Design Academy Eindhoven. Thomas is currently a member of the ID-Studiolab at the TU Delft, where he is finishing a PhD on the design of social media products. As part of the PhD, Thomas worked as a visiting researcher at Stanford University, and gave talks at the Center of Design Research, Nokia Research and at the CHIMe Lab. Recently he started as an interaction designer at a web company. His primary design and research interests are in the design of intriguing interactions with products and services. He aims to understand how to design interactive applications and products that engage, provoke and uplift the user.

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