UX lectures — Opening day, Master in User Experience Psychology

On occasion of the first day of the Master in User Experience Psychology by Politecnico di Milano & Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, we had the honour of hosting three very special guests, each offering diverse nuances of the relationship between User Experience and Psychology:

  • Marc Hassenzahl — Professor Ubiquitous Design / Experience & Interaction at Universität Siegen
  • Patrizia Marti — Professor of Experience Design at the University of Siena and Visiting Professor at the Eindhoven University of Technology (NL).
  • Gillian Crampton Smith — Interaction Designer, ACM SIGCHI Lifetime Achievement in Practice Award and am Honorary Professor at the Potsdam University of Applied Sciences, former Director Director Interaction Design Institute Ivrea

Below are three short extracts from their keynotes.

Marc Hassenzahl: True Happiness this Way Lies — Technology, Interaction Design and Wellbeing

The master narrative of all conceptual approaches for technology had been to serve humans. But what is its real role? Sometimes technology “alienates us” instead of “serving us”, distracting the human being from reality.
How could we solve this problem?

Wellbeing should be an explicit goal of design and we should start to rethink the current way technology is designed.

How can we grasp the elusive concept of wellbeing and make it productive for design?

Professor Marc Hassenzahl explores the relationship among humans, wellbeing and technology. How do we correlate to technology? How does it influence our daily life?

Wellbeing is the frequent experience of positive moments. What we do and how we do in everyday life contributes to our wellbeing. Considering that technology is part of our daily, it shapes our wellbeing through its functionalities and interactions.

“The challenge of designing for wellbeing is to identify, understand, rewrite or invent positive everyday practices, materialise them through interaction and form. Towards a humanistic approach to technology design.”

Watch the full keynote

Patrizia Marti: User Experience for Human Sensorial Perception

Professor Patrizia Marti walked us through a couple of projects she worked on, demonstrating how cognitive science and psychology could provide a better design for new technologies.

The centrality of humans is of fundamental importance when designing experiences; she indeed outlined that Experience design is no solely related to user interface.

When we touch a screen the overall sensorial experience is quite low, a very small part of our senses is involved. We can manipulate its graphical user interface but we don’t have any perception of the inherent properties of the digital object. We cannot truly feel its weight, its shape nor texture.

“Our senses are only marginally involved in the interaction with the digital object. In contrast, the way human beings touch objects in daily life express a lot of meaning: first of all it expresses an intention.”

She states that User Experience has two fundamental facets to take into account:

1. Perceptual: sensory motor perceptions we can have with the artefacts

2. Aesthetic of product: it changes depending on the culture, considering individuals self expression, gender related issues (etc..)

In her talk professor Marti explores assistive technology, inclusivity and personalisation of devices, in order to improve the user experience of digital products.

Watch the full keynote

Gillian Crampton Smith — How You, digital designers are going to shape people’s lives

Gillian Crampton Smith explains how in the 1990s it became clear that a successful product needed to involve people from different disciplines: ergonomists, psychologists, designers, engineers, anthropologists etc… Each considering a different aspect of human needs.

But how do digital designers shape people’s lives? The design mindset is divergent, and imaginative, always ready to prototype novel solutions. This can be very frustrating to engineers who tend to be convergent, focused on making a solution work — imaginative in a different way.

To work successfully in a multidisciplinary team, designers need to consider the different values, priorities and ways of thinking of each discipline’s culture.

As well as focusing on WHAT to design, designers are trained to focus on the WHYS: Why are we building what we are building? What effect do we want it to have? Is there another way to get there?

We shape lives by what we design: how we design people’s interaction with their digital environment, how it looks, feels and sounds, the mental model we choose to represent it, how it can be perceived, understood and enjoyed — how it fits people’s everyday life and culture

Designers also need to think about the unintended consequences of the product. What undesirable effects might it produce? Can we prevent humans making errors while using it? What might happen if the design fails?

Professor Gillian Crampton Smith makes a great call to action explaining the importance of both Design Thinking and Design Doing and how we as designers, must rethink what’s important because our actions will shape the everyday lives of ordinary people, not just technology enthusiasts.

“ Consciously or unconsciously, deliberately or inadvertently, societies choose structures for technologies that influence how people are going to work, communicate, travel, consume, and so forth over a very long time” (Langdon Winner, Do Artifacts have politics?)

Watch the full keynote

These lectures were held during the opening day of the Master in User Experience Psychology by Politecnico di Milano & Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore. Follow us on LinkedIn and Facebook to be updated about the upcoming UX Talks, that will be open to the public.

A polytechnic centre of excellence dedicated to User Experience - by POLIdesign.

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