A study of context-based multi-sensory user experience
Date of Issue2017
School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
In recent years, the paradigm of product design and development (PDD) has been shifted from addressing functional and technological issues to more user–centred and consumer–oriented concerns. The experiential aspect of design has taken a crucial role in creating more consumer–focused products. Oftentimes, customer research or user involvement studies are conducted to acquire necessary knowledge and gain an insight into user experience. Unlike functional requirements, experiential customer requirements are usually more tacit, latent and complex. As such, the issues concerning user experience acquisition in consumer goods design deserve more attention. To address the inherent characteristics of an experience being complex, subjective and dynamic, an integrated design strategy – ‘designing for multi–sensory experience from a contextual level’ is applied. Accordingly, a prototype User Experience Cycle (UXC) is proposed in this work to better present and depict the iterative process of user experience. A prototype Context–based Multi–Sensory Experience System (CMSES) with a Scenario Co–built Strategy (SCS) is established to guide the user involvement and help designers tackle diverse contextual factors considering individual differences. By using the approach, designers and users can together co–build more customized usage contexts which allow users to experience and evaluate a product under more realistic situations. In addition, a User–Context Form (UCF) is developed to help designers manage complex and diverse data, such as user background information and their ideal usage contexts. It can also facilitate the communication within stakeholders. Two case studies, namely a biscuit container design and an automated teller machine (ATM) design, are conducted to illustrate the capability of the proposed approaches and demonstrate how designers can gain an in–depth and more comprehensive understanding about user experience. The results suggest there are individual differences in personal ideal usage scenarios, which, along with contextual factors, can influence user experience and evaluation. Designers should thus not neglect such inherent characteristics of an experience, but consider them carefully at the very beginning while planning a user involvement study. As illustrated in the case studies, it appears that the proposed approaches are promising and may help designers examine, explore and investigate user experience in a dedicated and robust manner and, hence, strengthen the context–based multi–sensory experience exploration and design.