Saturday, June 14, 2008

Interaction, Outcome, and Experience

There is an interesting relationship between interaction and outcome. It is possible to think about interaction as the activity a person is involved in when "using" a digital artifact, that is, 'doing interaction' with an artifact or system. It is also possible to think about the result from the activity of interaction, for instance, when you interact with a word processor, the outcome is the final text (digital or printed on paper) that you use for a purpose.

There are a complex relationship between these two: interaction and outcome. The interaction can consist of simple or compex activities, and the outcome can be simple or complex when it comes to structure and content. Usually we need to perform complex interactions to produce complex results, or simple interactions to produce simple results. But, this is not always true. Sometimes the opposite might be the case.

When we talk about the experience of interaction it does not necessarily have to do with the outcome, except when it is the outcome. The experience of using a word processor leads to the outcome in the form of a text, but it also 'produces' experiences that have to do with the quality of the interaction itself and not at all with the qality of the outcome. As a user we might love or hate the interaction exeprience while being indifferent, satisfied, or unhappy with the outcome, or vice versa.

Sometimes there is no outcome except the experience, for instance, when it come to games. There is no outcome that matters except for the experience of interacting.

Ok, nothing of this is new, I am just trying to analyze these concepts since I find them often used and understood in quite confusing ways, and I think it is crucial for any interaction designer to know the difference. When it comes to design, you have to decide what is the 'real' outcome of your design, what the experience should be realted to (outcome or interaction), etc. At the end it all becomes extremely practical and concret, and that is when your design with its qualities are measured and evaluated. And, of course, in the new world we are entering, as a designer you also have to be able to argue for your design. You have to know why you have devoted your time to the design of respectively interaction and outcome qualities.

I guess will come back to this. This needs more reflection. If anyone has some good recommendations fore readings, since I expect that I am not alone playing with these concepts.

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