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
    Technorati Profile

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    Total Experience

    Monthly Archives

    August 29, 2006

    Design Council's RED Open House during the London Design Festival, Sept 22, 2006

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    Posted by Bob Jacobson

    RedRED, the (UK) Design Council's “do tank,” has published several papers about its groundbreaking projects on the Design Council's attractively redesigned website. RED's modus operandi is “Transformation Design,” which it deems a new design profession: “Creating future services with and for the public.” Projects include those on aging, democracy, sustainability, energy, open health, and citizenship. You can download RED's seminal paper on Transformation Design [PDF]. Authored by Colin Burns, Hilary Cottam (RED's director and 2005 Design Museum Designer of the Year), Chris Vanstone, and Jennie Winhall, the report begins...

    In June 2005 Hilary Cottam was awarded the title ‘Designer of the Year’ by the Design Museum, London, for her work redesigning prisons, schools and healthcare services. The public, who had overwhelmingly voted for Cottam, knew that they had seen a good thing.

    The design industry, however, was in uproar. Cottam is not a trained or traditional designer of ‘things’. Instead, she has applied a design approach to some of the UK’s biggest problems: prisoner re-offending rates, failing secondary schools and the rising burden of chronic healthcare. At the Design Council’s RED unit, where she is Director, she forms multidisciplinary teams – with designers working alongside policy makers – who use the design process as a means of collaborating with pupils, teachers, patients, nurses, prisoners and prison officers to develop new solutions.

    RED is applying design in new contexts. We use product, communication, interaction and spatial designers’ core skills to transform the ways in which the public interacts with systems, services, organisations and policies.

    RED is not alone in doing this type of work. A new design discipline is emerging. It builds on traditional design skills to address social and economic issues. It uses the design process as a means to enable a wide range of disciplines and stakeholders to collaborate. It develops solutions that are practical and desirable. It is an approach that places the individual at the heart of new solutions, and builds the capacity to innovate into organisations and institutions.

    This new approach could be key to solving many of society’s most complex problems. But the community of practice is small, and its emergence has already caused controversy. There are those who argue that it’s not design because it doesn’t look or feel much like design in the familiar sense of the word. Its outputs aren’t always tangible, and may be adapted and altered by people as they use them. It is a long way from the paradigm of the master- designer.

    Companies and public bodies are, however, increasingly faced with more complex and ambiguous issues. At the same time there is a growing desire among designers, both young and old, to tackle society’s most pressing problems.

    Through our work at the Design Council we are in a position to stimulate demand for new design-led approaches to complex problems, and to show that the potential market for a new design approach is clear. But is the design industry ready?

    Welcome AmmendRED's hosting an Open House at the Design Council on September 22, 2006, during the London Design Festival, September 15-30, 2006, an affair with its own heady themes and execution.

    For years, the Design Council has pioneered themes in the design profession that eluded higher profile design organizations. It deserves commendation and attention.

    Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Events and Happenings | Integrative + Interdisciplinary Design | The Practice of Experience Design

    IDEA 2006 in Seattle, Oct 23-24: Designing complex information spaces (in the real world)

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    Posted by Bob Jacobson

    I received this from Peter Merholz, cofounder and partner at Adaptive Path and president of the Information Architecture Institute:

    Idea-2006The IDEA Conference, organized by the IA Institute, takes place October 23-24 in Seattle, WA.

    The event is a unique offering on the conference scene -- practitioners from a wide range of fields will present on the subject of designing complex information spaces. Disciplines represented include museum design, interaction design, information visualization, librarian, network guru, environmental design, architecture, design for mobile devices, and research. See the Program here.

    Seattle1This event is designed for those who recognize that design problems are larger than any one medium, channel, or device, and that in order to succeed in an increasingly complex world, we need to work with one another to understand how to address the situations people find themselves in today.

    Discounted registration ends September 15. Register soon!

    See you in Seattle!

    Peter and I had a super schmooze about IDEA 2006 (among other things) during his recent homecoming to Santa Monica. I highly recommend this event as one that encapsulates and expands upon many of the ideas expressed on TOTAL EXPERIENCE.

    Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Events and Happenings | Integrative + Interdisciplinary Design

    Mark Hurst's euroGEL happens in Copenhagen this week

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    Posted by Bob Jacobson

    Gelman-Eurogel06euroGEL 2006 takes place in Copenhagen later this week, August 31-September 1. It'll be a joyous as well as informative event.

    GEL stands for Good Experience Live. Mark's made a career of helping to create good experiences and decrying bad ones. He explains why this first European GEL is being held in Copenhagen:

    I've always thought that good experience is a universal way of looking at the world - at design, technology, art, architecture, work, performance, and life - and not merely an American idea. To find out whether that idea is true, the Good Experience team now heads to Copenhagen, Denmark to run our very first Good Experience Live in Europe, or euroGel, this Thursday and Friday (Aug. 31 - Sept. 1).

    The question I usually get about euroGel (other than “what is Gel?” from people who haven't attended) is, “Why Copenhagen?”

    Here are a few of the reasons:

    - The Danish experience. As I wrote in June:

    Copenhagen 1Certain aspects of Danish culture capture the spirit of “good experience” - attention to quality, an attitude about life and work that's refreshingly free of cynicism and irony, respect fo the past and enthusiasm for the future - and just plain friendly people. (The Danes also happen to be very good at design, but I'm here because of the overall experience - including, yes, design as just one element.) ( )

    - We've made a number of friends and supporters already:

    - Denmark is the happiest place in the world:

    - It's very photogenic - here are my photos:

    Even if you can't be there, take a look at who will be joining the now global Good Experience community, both as attendees and as speakers:

    - Partial euroGel attendee list:

    - Full euroGel speaker list and schedule (and registration link):

    Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Events and Happenings | Integrative + Interdisciplinary Design | The Practice of Experience Design

    August 14, 2006

    Behavioral Economics

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    Posted by Paula Thornton

    With lots of good intentions, I've resigned myself to simply share important stuff as I come across it rather than waiting to find the time to comment on it (as illustrated by the many half-written pieces that sit on my desktop).

    I've mentioned repeatedly (on many different 'channels') the importance of economic concepts to our work. If I wasn't able to convince you before, perhaps these will add another perspective. Check out two important pieces: A Perspective on Economics and Psychology and Behavioral Economics: Reunifying Psychology and Economics. [Step gingerly around the highly-academic voice of these pieces.]

    The only commentary I'd want to add is that the flavor of the pieces are still very 'large market, classic economics' in nature. See if you can transpose the concepts to markets of one and individual choice. And lastly, anyone who questions the validity of 'rationality' in behaviors doesn't understand the true meaning of rationality -- it's contextual. The real value to us as practitioners is to figure out what makes certain behaviors 'rational' to those who engage in them. Those values and/or motivators are the hues that define the paint of our designs.

    Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Commentary | Integrative + Interdisciplinary Design | Theories of Experience

    August 9, 2006