Aesthetic craft (was "Elements of InteractionDesign")

15 May 2006 - 12:51pm
8 years ago
1 reply
460 reads
Christopher Fahey
2005

Jonas wrote:
> 3. no communal sense of the "aesthetics of use" and no established
> venues for collectively developing such a sense.

When you write "aesthetics of use", I think of the difference in "feel"
between, say, using Flickr and using Amazon.com. The amount of information
per interface, the complexity, density, and compartmentalization of
affordances, the difference in mental models and motivations. Is this what
you mean? Because I think this is an excellent area of inquiry and thinking,
and the word "aesthetics" I think is applicable because so much of what goes
into an interface is a kind of "usage style", independent of productivity
and efficiency metrics.

If two interfaces have roughly the same visual style, and have nearly
equivalent empirical performance results, they still can differ radically in
how they actually feel to the user. This difference is a kind of aesthetic,
I think.

-Cf

Christopher Fahey
____________________________
Behavior
http://www.behaviordesign.com
me: http://www.graphpaper.com

Comments

16 May 2006 - 1:04am
Jonas Löwgren
2003

Christopher wrote:

> When you write "aesthetics of use", I think of the difference in
> "feel"
> between, say, using Flickr and using Amazon.com. The amount of
> information
> per interface, the complexity, density, and compartmentalization of
> affordances, the difference in mental models and motivations. Is
> this what
> you mean? Because I think this is an excellent area of inquiry and
> thinking,
> and the word "aesthetics" I think is applicable because so much of
> what goes
> into an interface is a kind of "usage style", independent of
> productivity
> and efficiency metrics.

This is what I mean. Interacting with a digital product feels a
certain way and that feeling has aesthetic elements to it. For
example, some aesthetic assessments I have heard from users of
everyday productivity apps are pleasant, captivating, boring and
repetitive. (Note that aesthetics are not limited to the pleasant and
the beautiful!)

I think a key point for our field is that the "aesthetics of use" are
much more time-dependent than traditional notions of aesthetics in
industrial design and graphic design, which are the two aesthetics-
aware design disciplines that have had the most influence on
interaction design. The following paragraphs are from a manuscript I
am in the process of publishing, on the aesthetic quality of
"pliability" in interaction design:

--------
[W]e have all experienced the differences between watching a
screenshot or a photograph of a digital artifact, and trying it out
for real. The feel of the interaction, the hints of complexity
unfolding as different options are explored, the rhythm of the
initiative shifting back and forth, the sense of understanding and
insight growing over time, the sometimes almost dramaturgical
orchestration of the interaction from conflict to resolution—all of
this is part of the temporal and visuo-tactile properties of using
the digital artifact. With a slight simplification, we might say that
graphic-design and industrial-design products carry much of their
meaning on the surface whereas interaction design products hide much
of their meaning in virtual "contents" to emerge only in sustained
interaction.

The point is that interaction design needs to develop its own body of
knowledge on desirable qualities of the use experience, qualities
that take into account the synthesis of temporal and spatial that
characterizes digital artifacts. Another way of putting it would be
to say that we need to start articulating the aesthetics of
interaction design.
--------

I may be overstating the case a bit -- of course, there are time-
dependent aesthetics in industrial design as well -- but at least I
think there is an important distinction in there somewhere.

Jonas Löwgren

----
Arts and Communication
Malmö University, SE-205 06 Malmö, Sweden

phone +46 7039 17854
web http://webzone.k3.mah.se/k3jolo

Syndicate content Get the feed