user centered vs user experience

ALARM! Another confusion on board!!!

I think it is not the same to talk about user centered than user experience.

Several papers related to computer science are highlighting that their focus is to enhance the user experience. Excuse me?, how do they measure and validate that the experience is enhanced with their intervention? (haven’t seen/read measurements and less validations of their intervention on the experience of the users)

In parallel, game studies is putting a lot of effort on the understanding of the game experience. However, on this field it is possible to observed long ethnographies (in case of virtual worlds) or the use of psychological methodologies for specific purposes.

Perhaps one can assume, due to the fact that “x” is developed using a user-centered approach, the experience will be enhanced using ex. But isn’t is a dangerous generalization?, because which experience is enhanced? (positive or negative experience), diminish frustration, increase enjoyment, inspirational, etc. And even those elements should be clearly define first.

To be direct: according to whom, which experience is enhanced, how is it enhanced, under which specific context and using what?.

Maybe I am getting picky, I am confusing myself easily, or complicating myself. :/

But clear thinking, it is not easy!

1 thought on “user centered vs user experience

  1. Minna


    in human-computer interaction and interface design user-centered / human-centered / customer-centered approaches are generally those in which the users and their needs are given more attention to. This means that users take part in the design process in one way or another. There is a standard (ISO 13407) which defines human-centred design process at the abstract level, and there are several different design approaches with the actual techiques for doing it (e.g., contextual design, participatory design).

    Traditionally, human-computer interaction has been concerned with usability goals such as learnability, efficiency and number of errors made. These can be measured quite easily, e.g., how much time it takes to do a certain task, how many errors user does per hour etc. However, as nowadays technology is used for many other purposes beside work, there has been a lot of discussion in HCI about the expanding the design goals to cover also other than cognitive issues. Some people have expanded the original concept and come up with terms like “emotional usabiity” or “cultural usability”. But there are also the concepts of “user experience” and “user experience goals” in design, including such qualities as satisfying, enjoyable, fun, entertaining, motivating, aesthetically pleasing, rewarding, emotionally fulfilling, etc. These are of course more subjective and more difficult to measure, even though the designers may try to do so by using questionnaires for example. (So they would ask questions like “On the scale of 1 to 5, how enjoyable did you find this product?”)

    A good thing about HCI and design after the end of the 1980’s or so has been that it is not only about the cognitive psychology and experiments done in the lab. Design methods, for example, cover nowadays a variety of different methods such as interviews, observation, ethnographically inspired fieldwork, diary studies, cultural probes etc. So there are different options for approaching the topic of user experience also in HCI.

    Of course there are articles in which people talk about user-centred design and user experience in very vague ways. Sometimes – especially amongst the business people – concepts like “user-centred design” can quickly become buzzwords which are used a lot but with very little meaning attached to it.

    I suppose some HCI / design people may think that “user-centred design will automatically enhance the user experience”. In general, HCI people are quite keen on some sort of evaluation though so I think most of them would not be happy with such an assumption…

    Sorry for the long comment, hopefully it was of some help! 😉

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