Using ‘Design for Experience’ for Innovation

We saw that sustaining and disruptive innovations exist in the perspective of people’s experiences of technology, not just in the perspecti...

We saw that sustaining and disruptive innovations exist in the perspective of people’s experiences of technology, not just in the perspective of technology. Such innovations are created within the interaction between three aspects, namely: changes in the socio-cultural, technological, and economic environments; the state of the person that receives this change; and the firm that utilizes this change. When a dominant design is established, companies seek continuous change through oneway, sustaining innovations. But when it exceeds a certain level, sustaining innovation incites cognitive dissonance among users. When this dissonance heightens to a degree that the dominant degree cannot resolve, other firms that seek to solve this problem come up with disruptive innovations that steer towards the opposite direction of the dominant design. Through this process, a new dominant design is established.



Usability tests of the past focused on incremental change. They attempted to find out the usability issues of a product or service, and companies utilized them to provide new interfaces or interactions that resolved the usability issues. This is why incremental innovation is claimed to be more appropriate to human-centered design methodology (Norman 2013; Norman and Verganti 2014).

On the other hand, there aren’t many cases that deal with disruptive innovation in the eyes of a person’s experience. This is because both the frequency of disruptive innovation is low and its success rate is not very high either. However, the reason we should pay attention to disruptive innovation is because disruptive innovation is a golden opportunity to overcome the dominant design of the market and create a new one.

Nonetheless, it is not recommended to provide a disruptive innovation too quickly, while people do not feel cognitively dissonant enough and the current dominant design still provides satisfaction. In that case companies must focus on sustaining innovations that can close the competitive discrepancy with other companies within the boundaries of the dominant design. In other words, firms must focus on the current dominant design and come up with new yet incremental ways to enhance the design of a product or service. However, once the conflict is heightened enough and the discrepancy between human experience and dominant design is high enough, firms no longer need to rely on the dominant design. They must actively come up with a product or service that can act as a disruptive innovation. But to do this, there are a few prerequisite conditions.

Firstly, a company must understand the current dominant design in the perspective of human experience. They must meticulously investigate what characteristics the dominant design possesses in terms of sense of presence, locus of causality, and relational cohesiveness. To do this, it would be helpful to compose a three dimensional model of experience.

Secondly, a company must understand the degree of change and direction of sustaining innovation after a dominant design has been settled. We must analyze the directional changes of the sense of presence, locus of causality, and relational cohesiveness during the sustaining innovation period. Previously, I mentioned that while a sense of presence heightens, the locus of causality shifts towards the external, and relational cohesiveness strengthens. However, this is only a general pattern; based
on the specific type of product or service, change may occur in a different direction.

Thirdly, companies must measure the degree of cognitive dissonance that people feel towards the current dominant design. There are two ways to do this: the first is to analyze the difference between what the dominant design offers and the degree of what people desire in terms of sense of presence, locus of causality, and relational cohesion for each of the threads of experience. Cognitive dissonance can only be high when the differences between people’s striving aspirations and the dominant design are large. Another method is to measure the negative symptoms that arise due to cognitive dissonance. As previously mentioned, cognitive dissonance can be measured by three kinds of aspects: (1) despair and irritation in the sensual aspect, (2) doubt about one’s own judgment in the judgmental aspect, and (3) dissatisfaction about the purchasing process or towards others involved in the purchasing process in the compositional aspect.

After deducing new experiential points of balance through the above methods, the next step is to find an effective method to provide a balanced experience to people. Think about what important experience elements can raise or lower the sense of presence, externalize or internalize the locus of causality, and raise or lower relational cohesiveness. Then, consider what design features are needed to express these experience elements in an actual product or service.

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