From Abstract to Tangible: Supporting the Materialization of Experiential Visions with the Experience Map
Serena Camere, Hendrik N.J. Schifferstein, Monica Bordegoni


Designing for pleasurable and engaging product experiences requires an understanding of how users will experience the product, sometimes at a very abstract level. This focus on user experiences, rather than on the formal qualities of the product, might cause difficulties for designers in the materialization of design ideas. Designers need to navigate through several choices, shaping and refining the product qualities in order to elicit the intended experience. To support this process, we propose a tool, the Experience Map, guiding designers in the progressive transformation of an ‘experiential vision’ into tangible formal qualities, considering all the opportunities perceived by the different senses. The paper presents the results of two studies in which we verified the potential of the Experience Map, first in a workshop with design students and second in four design cases with professional designers. The results show that the Experience Map can provide a good structure to organize creative thoughts and progressively decrease the level of abstraction, particularly to support novice designers. It stimulates greater confidence and awareness of design decisions, while allowing the exploration of several design directions in parallel. These benefits, together with the visually stimulating layout and its ability to foster awareness on design decisions, make the Experience Map an effective tool to support experience-driven design practice, especially in the early phases of the creative process and in the educational context.

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