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John Fischer reviews: Experience Design by Nathan Shedroff

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John Fischer reviews: Experience Design by Nathan Shedroff
A Creative COW "Real World" Book Review


John Fischer reviews: Experience Design by Nathan Shedroff

John Fischer John Fischer
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA

© 2003 John Fischer and CreativeCOW.net. All rights reserved.

Article Focus:
John Fischer takes a close look at Experience Design by Nathan Shedroff. This new book from New Riders Publishing (ISBN: 0735710783) makes you more aware of the environment around you and stimulates your thinking away from the computer.


Experience Design is not your normal design book with lots of pretty pictures and a few quick blurbs about the design. It actually tries to have a message and in many ways succeeds. If you're able to slog through the whole book it should make you think twice about some aspects of design.

One way the author, Nathan Shedroff, writes of measuring experiences is the 100-year test. For example .. "In 100 years there will be no computers. MPEG and QT will be forgotten. CD-ROMS will not exist. Windows will not exist. No Netscape, Compuserves, Prodigy. But in 100 years Dr. Seuss will still excite both kids and adults. There will still be intolerance, hatred, bigotry and greed. Conversations will still illuminate, enrage, engage, and inspire."

He also writes, "Most technological experiences have paled in comparison to real-world experiences and have been relatively unsuccessful as a result. What these solutions require first and foremost is an understanding by their developers of what makes a good experience; then to translate these principles, as well as possible, into the desired media without the technology dictating the form of the experience."

Well said, and worth thinking about. Too often as designers the impulse is to sit down at the computer and just go at it, ignoring the world around you. Certainly, everything we do and see influences us, but perhaps its worth taking some extra time to reflect on what that is and how we can use that for more effective design.

Shedroff also writes about how many designers value visual style and appearance over understanding and accuracy. Or what you could call the eye candy trap. It's easy to fall into making things look cool without making sure they still communicate and produce the desired response. Sometimes understated is better.

The author describes EXPERIENCE DESIGN as a kind of text book that contains theory as well as examples. A source of inspiration that can be used to challenge your thinking when working on a creative project. I'd agree with that. At best, it makes you more aware of the environment around you, stimulates your thinking away from the computer. At its worst, the writing can be somewhat tedious and make you feel you're back in school (and not in a good way).

There are certainly some interesting designs/pictures in the book, but, unless you already have a pretty good library of design books this wouldn't be one of the first I would recommend. I give it 3 out of 5 cows.



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