Francesco Busolini // portfolio

Aesthetics of Interaction - USER EXPERIENCE

Realized: March 2013

Category: User Experience

Aesthetics of Interaction - USER EXPERIENCE

Category: User Experience Realized: March 2013

This short essay is an answer to the following assignment:

"What is Aesthetics of Interaction? This course has been full of contradictory information. You have heard about different ideals in interaction design, you have heard of various researchers and designers taking on these approaches in different ways, you have learned design methods, you have read texts, you have selected quotes, you have encountered designs – in lectures, in texts, and of course your own. Together, these things form a vivid and messy mix of what aesthetics of interaction could be regarded as. But – how are they all related? The aim of this task is for you to consider all these things and form some meaning out of them in the form of a map."

The full explanation of the design task is presented in assignment (PDF).

What I saved from the first insight I had, written before taking the course, is:

The way we design the interaction creates the aesthetics of it.

An artefact shouldn’t be always beautiful to be aesthetically attractive, it depends on the meaning that this artefact has in the intention of the designer. The designer can design with different intentions: functional purpose, playfulness, criticism, emotional purpose, etc. We can add meaning to the object, change the way we use it, transform the object itself in something else, or change the emotional reaction of the users.

Aesthetics of interaction is the way we add meaning to the design of the interaction of an artefact.

Aesthetics of Interaction concept.

In the mind map, I highlighted three elements: aesthetics, emotion and criticism.

Aesthetics makes us perceive! Emotions make us feel! Criticism makes us think!

Aesthetics describes what we can perceive through our senses – how it feels, looks, smells, tastes, sounds, moves – during the experience with the artefact – in a specific situation, with a specific context of use. Emotions make us feel deeper sensations. Emotions require a link between what we perceive through senses and our memories. When we integrate our perception with our memories we feel emotions. These emotions can make us reflect with a logical and critical thinking. Finally we have criticism, which makes us think. Criticism works through provocation, intrigue and the creation of a twist. Unlike ambiguity, which allows the users to interpret the object without force them to a specific conclusion, the criticism should have a specific aim designed by the designer.

As shown in the mind-map, there is a network around the words ‘Aesthetics of Interaction’. The most important elements are: aesthetics, emotions, criticism, UX, appraisal, coherency, playfulness, usability, beauty, intrigue, provocation, ambiguity and motivation. When we design for interaction all of them are useful, none of them is essential. How to design the aesthetics of interaction is learnable only trough experience.

The full essay is available at essay (PDF) with the high-quality mind-map (PDF).