“User experience – a research agenda” 9/14

In the editorial User experience – a research agenda, Marc Hassenzahl and Noam Tractinsky argue that there needs to be further user experience (UX) research, encouraging scientists and practitioners to engage in empirical UX research so that we can further advance our understanding of it. In doing so, they outline the work of previously existing research papers published on UX, primarily looking at three different facets that make up UX. Those perspectives deal with addressing human needs beyond the instrumental, affective and emotional aspects of the interaction, and the nature of experience.


Reading this editorial, the perspective focused on affective and emotional aspects of the interaction was most interesting to me. UX takes a “human” perspective. It is interested in, in a way, designing emotion— specifically positive emotions— and being a consequence of technology use. Recently, UX research is a focus on positive emotional outcomes, like joy, fun and pride. It attempts to foster positive emotional experiences. An interesting example of this brought up in the editorial was Gustbowl,  a communication tool designed to connect children and parents. Analyses showed that children – parent communication is built on emotional and affective rituals. Rather than communication through a phone-call (which can be sometimes awkward), Gustbowl is an actual bowl which transmits pictures of things thrown into it to its counterpart. The other  bowl acknowledges this with a wobble and an image of the sender bowl’s content. Gustbowl exploits the ritual of coming home and thus produces a positively emotional user experience. An example of this would be a father coming home and throwing his keys into the bowl and his daughter, living far away, would receive the wobble, along with a picture of the keys reminding her of home without the need for the explicit act of communication.


Regardless, UX is not entirely the product of the factor I discussed or its counterparts. Rather, as the authors explain, “UX is a consequence of a user’s internal state (predispositions, expectations, needs, motivation, mood, etc.), the characteristics of the designed system (e.g. complexity, purpose, usability, functionality, etc.) and the context (or the environment) within which the interaction occurs (e.g. organizational/social setting, meaningfulness of the activity, voluntariness of use, etc.).” While UX desires to design an experience, is that really entirely possible? Can designers have that much control over all of the elements needed in a way that creates a positive experience? I don’t believe so. I agree with Hassenzahl and Tractinsky in that we just design for an experience— to take experiential aspects into account while designing, without being able to guarantee a particular experience.

2 thoughts on ““User experience – a research agenda” 9/14

  1. I agree with you in that designing an experience may not be entirely possible, and I think because a lot about what positive/negative really means is so subjective, the scope is too broad. There are so many moving parts in each person’s life that a good experience for one may be different for another, and even a good experience for someone can change based on the situations going on around them.

  2. When I read the article, I also find the idea of Gustbowl really interesting. Good connection between children and parents is essential, and Gustbowl provides a not awkward way to build emotional interaction. Gustbowl definitely would produce a positively emotional user experience. I agree what the authors mentioned in conclusion part, which is technology in the future is to contribute to the quality of life by designing for pleasure rather than for absence of pain. Gustbowl contributes to this statement.

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