I’ve been actively designing experiences for the web since 1998. I remember a design mentor I had at the time said in response to criticism of his personal site that personal sites were places for designers to experiment. To try things clients may not be willing to try themselves. For these sites designers can try fringe HTML elements, CSS properties, or similar. XDwJB is that type of site.
My view of experience design has evolved over the years to go beyond human-computer interaction and more toward literal denotation of the words, not a philosophy or connotation.
- Experience (verb):
- encounter or undergo (an event or occurrence) and feel (an emotion)
- Design (verb):
- to do or plan (something) with a specific purpose or intention in mind.
With these definitions in mind, experience design is the level of intentionality behind a creation and the physical, emotional, and psychological response of someone to that creation.
A meeting can be a designed experience; the profession of meeting facilitation. Physical objects can be designed experiences. The doors of buildings. The interior and exterior of elevators.
Almost any creation.
One experiment we are trying with this site is in the types of entries. For publishing online content we typically create content that will be updated over time in the same location (think Wikipedia), content that is sequential and covering a single topic in depth (think a television mini-series), and content that’s akin to journal entries (the traditional blog or journal).
This site experiments with all three:
- Evergreen entries are typically created once and updated multiple times as information changes. I use these to help minimize the number or redundant entries and ensure the information you are receiving is up to date based on current knowledge.
- Serialized content is content that goes in order, each entry acting as a snapshot in time for a larger topic. The reMarkable is an example of serialized content. I use these to explore and discuss experiences focused on a primary topic.
- Ad-hoc content is similar to serialized content in that it represents a snapshot in time; however, it may not represent a long running topic to warrant more than one entry.
Another experiment is in the dominant form of navigation for the site; inline links will be the dominant form of navigation.
Menus at the top or side of the site’s main content have been staples of web design for many years now. There was, however, a site long ago in the age of the Internet that used inline links almost exclusively.
In 1999 the documentary film Home Page was released. It highlighted the “pioneer” blogger Justin Hall who runs links.net. At the time, the experience of the site was that a reader could be dropped into almost any page and, through the act of reading, wind up on other semi-related pages; falling down the rabbit hole of Justin’s content. Over time, links would be added to content previously written. New pages would be added with more links to other pages previously written. Old pages might be deleted. To slip into art student mode for a moment, the site didn’t seem restricted by user expectation from the view of its creator.
Happy Cog, a long-running digital design studio, once took a hybrid approach to site navigation. They made the company’s mission statement a feature of each page of the site. Words within the mission statement itself were then used as the primary navigation links to the main areas of the site. One or two sentences with three or four links identifying the services provided and for whom.
The site will have other experiments along with providing content with varying degrees of polish on a range of topics related to experience design as defined above.
The results of some will be more obvious while others will go unnoticed. And, in a way, that is my design philosophy and it comes from when I was studying visual effects at the Savannah College of Art and Design when someone from a visual effects studio said:
“If we do our job, you’ll never know we were there.”
I hope you find the content helpful and feedback, as always, is welcome.