TOTAL EXPERIENCE explores designing for experience: its theory, its practice, and how designing for experiences affects us socially and in our personal lives.


  • Bob Jacobson
  • Paula Thornton
  • BOB JACOBSON is fascinated by the experience of experience. A planner and technologist, Bob has a Ph.D. in Urban Planning & Design from UCLA. He's been a policy researcher, technology CEO, science writer, and consultant. As a Fulbright Scholar, he studied cellular telephony's impacts on transborder communities in the Nordic Arctic Circle. Bob edited Information Design (MIT Press 2000) and is now writing a book on the theory and practice of creating edifying, transformative experiences.
    ( Archive | Contact Bob )
    CORANTE PAULA THORNTON says, "Understanding human behavior (economics), optimizing interactions (design) and facilitating conversations (markets), are the means to achieve strategic differentiation. This is the focus of our discipline. It is not a 'nice to have'‚ and is not, like documentation once was, an afterthought. It is the means by which to start a strategic discussion and the means by which to drive a tactical initiative. All design should be evidence-based."
    ( Archive | Contact Paula ) >

    (Courtesy of Mark Vanderbeeken, Experientia SpA, Torino)

    Experience Design Websites
    Core 77 Website & Forum
    Business Week|Innovate
    InfoD: Understsanding by Design
    The Wayfinding Place
    Wayfinding Focus
    Design Addict
    L-ARCH (Landscape Architecture Mailing List)
    DUX 2007 Conference
    Digital Thread
    Enmeshed, Digital Arts & New Media
    Ludology (Game Playing Theory)
    Captology, Persuasive Computing
    Space and Culture
    Raskin Center for Humane Interfaces
    timet (acoustical design)
    Steve Portigal, Ethnographer
    Jane McGonigal's Avant Game
    Ted Wells' living : simple
    PingMag (Japan)

    Experience Design Blogs
    Adam Greenfield's Speedbird
    Experience Designer Network (Brian Alger)
    SmartSpace: Annotated Environments (Scott Smith)
    Don Norman
    Doors of Perception (John Thackara)
    Karl Long's Experience Curve
    Work•Play•Experience (Adam Lawrence)
    The David Report (David Carlson)
    Design & Emotion (Marco van Hout)
    Museum 2.0 (Nina Simon)
    B J Fogg
    Lorenzo Brusci (acoustics)
    Cool Town Studios
    Steve Portigal
    Debbie Millman
    MIT Culture Convergence Consortium
    Luke Wroblewski, Functioning Form|Interface Design
    Adam Richardson
    Putting People First (Paul Vanderbeeken/Experientia
    Laws of Simplicity (John Maeda)
    Challis Hodge's UX Blog
    Anne Galloways's Purse Lips Square Jaw
    Bruno Giussani's Lunch over IP
    Jane McGonigal's Avant-Game The Future of Work

    Experience Design Podcasts
    Ted Wells' living : simple Podcast
    Design Matters Podcast, Debbie Millman
    Icon-o-Cast Podcast, Lunar Design

    Experience Design Firms and ED-Oriented Manufacturers
    Barry Howard Limited
    Hilary Cottam
    LRA Worldwide, Inc.
    BRC Imagination Arts
    Stone Mantel
    Experientia s.r.l
    Herman Miller
    Cooper Interactive Design
    Doblin Group
    Fit Associates
    Strategic Horizons LLC (Joe Pine & Jim Gilmore)
    Cheskin Fresh Perspectives

    Education and Advocacy
    Centre for Design Research, Northumbria University (UK)
    Center for Design Research, Stanford University
    International Institute of Information Design (IIID)
    Design Management Institute
    Interaction Institute IVREA
    Design Research Institute (UK)
    UC Berkeley Center for Environmental Design Research
    History of Consciousness, UCSC
    Design News Magazine
    Society for Environmental Graphic Design (SEGD)
    Design Museum London
    Center for Sustainable Design
    Horizon Zero, Digital Arts+Culture in Canada
    Design Council UK
    First Monday

    Total Experience on Technorati
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    Monthly Archives

    February 10, 2005

    We have met the Other and they is us

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    Posted by Steve Portigal

    Back in September I wrote about a fatal stampede at the opening of an IKEA store in Saudi Arabia. Seems that the largest IKEA store in England just opened, with similar (if not-fatal) results.

    Up to 7,000 flocked to the Edmonton store lured by adverts promising huge discounts, including £45 sofas and £30 bed frames, to those who bought before 3am. When the main doors opened 40 security guards were overwhelmed and crowds pushed through, leaving people pinned to the wall or trampled on the ground.

    Security guard Gerard Visagie said "I have never felt so threatened. It was madness. A guard next to me was punched by a customer. He had his jaw dislocated. People were punching and kicking me and screaming. We were under siege.'

    Latyia Arpesh, 23, from Tottenham, said: "I was pushed to the ground and people clambered over me. I feared for my life."

    Avril Nanton, 46, from Edmonton, left the queue after four hours: "Near the front there was a sense of camaraderie. But when the doors opened, people at the back ran to the entrance. Everyone was upset, people were fighting. I saw a woman held down by a group of girls."

    Ben Adetimle, 31, from Leytonstone, added: "I bought a sofa but when I turned my back someone stole it. I'm not upset. It's just furniture, not worth dying over." As medics helped the injured, customers carried on shopping. A woman with pot plants said: "I've come from Birmingham for this." Jilal Patel, 29, from Tottenham, said: "I was queuing at 11am. Nothing is going to stop me from getting my sofa."

    Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Commentary

    February 7, 2005

    Don't flush, Swash

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    Posted by Steve Portigal

    intro-heat.gif Brondell takes on a formidable design-and-marketing challenge - getting Americans to change their product interactions in the bathroom.

    You walk into your bathroom and sit down on your Swash contoured and comfortably heated toilet seat. When finished, you simply press a button for a posterior or feminine wash and you are met with a warm, aerated water spray. You can dry yourself with the warm air dryer or pat-dry with a small amount of toilet paper. You leave your bathroom shower-fresh as the gentle-closing lid slowly lowers behind you. Swash-like products are providing over 20 million men, women, and children around the world a healthier, more hygienic lifestyle. The bidet is recognized for its superior cleansing qualities accomplished by using water rather than irritating, ineffective dry toilet paper.

    No doubt it's comfortable, perhaps pleasurable, more hygienic and whatever other benefits you can imagine. And hey, the Japanese all use it (or a similar product). But something is badly missing in order to get this marketplace to use it. As their CEO says ''Once someone experiences one of our warm toilet seats and the warm-water bidet, there's no going back to the cold porcelain toilet." (article here)

    There's nothing in their product or their website that begins to address the challenge of creating a new use model for a private, semi-shameful habitual activity that we can't even talk about. A PR foray gets them exposure today, but what will we see from them in 2 months or 6 months?
    If this was every other blog that touches on marketing or advertising, you'd see my list of recommendations for Blondell. But please, isn't that a bit silly? I can see the challenges they have, but without understanding their company, and most importantly, the perceptions of their target customers (not my personal opinions) around the barriers to adoption, it's ridiculous to offer advice. Except to learn about the customers and find ways to reframe the offering to induce a change of behavior. Abstract as anything, I guess.

    Any readers have any ideas, in the spirit of brainstorming, not expertise?

    Comments (5) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Commentary

    February 5, 2005

    The Big Duh and The Big High

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    Posted by Paula Thornton

    Big Duh.jpg Forbes Magazine has a current article that gets a 'big DUH' award from me: "Have It Your Way". Playing off of the old Burger King promotional tag, it's their inane claim "companies are tapping consumers as never before" that really caused great gall.

    Aside from the fact that the article is celebrating something that people would clearly EXPECT companies to do, they are making it sound as if this were a 'new' thing. Did they totally miss the cottage-industry era? Are we saying that the industrial revolution has finally come full circle?

    The article continues "they have concluded that instant feedback is one way to cope with the pressure for shorter product cycles and with the high failure rate of new products". Can we offer another big round of "DUH"s? Did they miss the memo on scientific models which have proven this theory has existed forEVER, we just weren't smart enough to see it? Or that feedback loops are the means by which, on a path of free energy, that we can increase momentum (see item #6)?

    ...continue reading.

    Comments (2) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Commentary | The Practice of Experience Design

    February 1, 2005