HOT Lab
HOT Topics is a monthly online publication of the Human-Oriented Technology Lab at Carleton University. This month’s topic is “User Experience“.

Marc Hassenzahl on User Experience
Marc Hassenzahl’s research in the area of product evaluation has had him thinking about the relationship between pragmatic and hedonic qualities of products for years. In this interview he takes a broad look at the research in the area of user experience to explore the reasons people like products. While usability, an ‘instrumental’ quality, is without a doubt important, Hassenzahl considers ‘non-instrumental’ qualities such as hedonic aspects (stimulation, identification and evocation). Then, looking at the relationship between instrumental and non-instrumental qualities generally, he provides some unsight into how to potentially resolve the dilemma of whether instrumental qualities (e.g. usability) influence non-instrumental qualities (e.g. judgments of aesthetics) or vice versa. He concludes by providing a view on the multi-faceted ways to conduct research in this area.

Usability, Aesthetics, Emotions and the User Experience
Sascha Mahlke’s research in the area of aesthetics, emotion and usability has led him to conduct a series of experiments to explore how people experience technology. While acknowledging the importance of usability, his research also addresses non-instrumental qualities (aesthetic and symbolic aspects) and emotional responses. In this article, Sascha reports on a series of studies he has conducted. In Study 1 using real products, he looks at whether usability assessment and aesthetic response correlate with the emotional response and overall judgment of a product. In Study 2, he reports on a controlled experiment that sought to reveal dependencies between usability, aesthetics, emotional response and overall judgment of a product. In Study 3 he explores the influence of context on various aspects of the user experience.