The Experience Cube
Each of these six spectra can be plotted on a diagram in order to place typical interfaces and products and reveal their relationships to each other by these attributes. Unfortunately, it is difficult to create a six-sided diagram that is clear. However, a close approximation can be created by combining the Feedback and Control attributes into one dimension; the Creative, Productive, and Communicative attributes into another; and the Adaptive attributes into a third. This gives us a rough Experience Cube and shows us some general relationships between experiences that we can learn from.
All experiences, whether mediated by technology or not, fit into this cube. This is important because it reminds us that the experiences we create in our products are viewed in a much wider context by our audiences. Unfortunately, most producers of interactive media or multimedia don't realize this. It must be remembered that a reader, user, or consumer has access to many experiences and, most likely, is not as enamored with the technology of any one medium as the developer might be. This means that the competition for interactive media products is as big as all of human experience. In other words, competitors for a CD-ROM on tropical fish are not other tropical fish CD-ROMs or even laser discs, but television documentaries, narrative and reference books, aquariums, scuba diving, travel, etc. If the experience you create is not a compelling one (whether it is justified by the bounds of the technology or not), you will never find a large audience. This is probably why we have seen only a few categories of successful interactive media products: children's books and lessons, games, reference works, and pornography. Both games and reference works use interactive media appropriately and create experiences that cannot be duplicated easily in other media. While some children's books and products do this, even the ones that don't have been successful, probably because the market (parents) can justify the expense on their children's education. Curiously, pornography uses interactive technologies particularly poorly, but it seems there is an overlap of sexual curiosity with technology.
So, we come back to the question: how does one create meaningful experiences and interactions? We must first revisit our goals and messages and reevaluate the kinds of experiences we want our audience to have. We must also ask them what their needs and wants are with regard to these experiences. This is what market research attempts to accomplish. It is not user testing (which needs to be done later once some possibilities have been developed), but a crucial inquiry. The process must involve brainstorming alternatives that meet these goals, messages, and audience interests and abilities until possible solutions emerge. These must then be given shape with the tools of Sensorial Design and tested before they are approved or labeled successful.
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Copyright 1994 Nathan Shedroff