UX: What is Experience?

This is the second post in a series of posts I am doing on the fundamental need and principles of user experience. (part 1)

Before we jump into user experience lets first look at what ‘Experience‘ means. Why? Knowing what experience means before diving into user experience will help us deliver better results and also hasten the learning curve.

So what is experience? The dictionary definition goes such.

Experience (noun)
1. A particular instance of personally encountering or undergoing something
2. The totality of the cognitions given by perception; all that is perceived, understood and remembered.

Experience is also
…the aspect of intellect and consciousness experienced as combinations of thought, perception, memory, emotion and imagination…

The key words here are thought, perception, memory, emotion and imagination. If you think about it, it is one or more of these that really shapes our experiences.

  • Our perception of an experience varies as everyone has their unique way of organizing and interpreting sensory information.
  • A memory of a past expereicen is against what we always judge our present experiences.
  • Before we actually experience something we imagine how that experience is likely to be.
  • The emotional response to an experience is what will ultimately determine if the experience was good or bad.

The Kailash Temple at Ellora makes one go 'wow' when seen the first time.

Experience is associated with sensory stimuli – visual, audio, touch, taste. An awesome experience results when this stimulus is in response to something you have previously read or heard about. It is like seeing the Kailash Temple at Ellora for the first time.

Experience is subjective. Different people will perceive similar things differently and different things similarly. For example, the sitar, guitar and the cello are all string instruments but not everyone who likes one may like the other.

Experience is small things. Like the curved back of the iPad inviting you to pick it up. A good experience is almost always made up of many small little things. So it is important to identify these small things and features and ensure they add up to deliver the big picture.

The remembrance of an experience is high when the experience as bad as well as when it is good. So how do you want to be remembered?We remember both good and bad experiences. But with very different outcomes! We want to re-live, repeat the good experiences, suggest it to others. It is exactly the opposite for bad experiences: we will never repeat those and never recommend it to others. Quite possibly we may even try to dissuade others. We don’t particularly like or dislike the average experiences. They are generally completely forgotten once over. Any doubts where we want to be?