Properties and Experiences

Posted on June 28, 2006 | Tagged as: | 0 comments

What makes websites successfull? Doubtless it’s the content and functionality it provides to its users combined with some appealing design. But what is it that makes some websites so outstanding that almost everyone has heared about them? It’s the experience they offer. It’s how they come to live and are interpreted when they are handed over to the users.

The sociologist Tim Dant has created a typology about the properties that objects have and the experience each property provides to its users. His “Material Culture in the Social World” can be adapted to websites (and interactive applications and services) and provides developers and designers with a new view on the topic of user experience. The flickr website – or better service – is a good example to highlight the properties and to show how they work.

The experience of a websites function is simply what it does. It enables users to do something they could not do without it or just with more afford. Flickr’s function about uploading images and share them webwide or simply with some friends.

Through its signification a service signifies membership of a social group. The experience is all about meeting people with the same interests and the feeling of being a part of something defined. Sharing pictures on flickr.

Sexuality with websites enhances one’s self image or acts as a kind of state-of -the art and must have. It has become quite common to have a flickr account. Showing and sharing your pics makes your website and yourself quite sexy and fashionable.

The property of knowledge is delivered to the users via a service’s function. Flickr’s knowldege isn’t quite obvious and is more a soft one as it imparts information to it’s users.

Aesthetics provides an emotional experience based on the coneptual and graphical design of a service. The concept behind flickr, it’s simple, usable and intuitive layout create an experience of quick broswing which is not hindered by some overloaded and colorful layout or useless functions no one ever uses.

Another social aspect is mediation, the ability to enable or enhance communication. Adding comments to pics or tagging your own sets creates an invisible communication and allowes users to share their thoughts and opinions. All triggered by images, the art of visual communication.

This typology isn’t a blueprint or checklist on how to create good expereinces that result in outstanding websites. It’s simply a kind of “fuzzy meta view” on what services are and what they provide behind technology and design. The very knowlege about the properties is importent. They are simply there and can’t be altered. What a designer can do, is to influence the expereinces they create.

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