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UX Theory & Practice

In this course UX design and evaluation theories were explained and your own standpoint in these theories could be explored. This newly acquainted knowledge was turned into practice through the creation of a personal UX portfolio, a UX design challenge for a client and the design of a UX manifesto.

for user experiences

Course Project
User Experience 
Theory & Practice 
(RDD track course)


assistant professor dr. Harm van Essen

Project members: Luca van Breda & Yiyue Qiu (UX design challenge); and Pascalle Ickenroth (UX manifesto)

van Berlo (UX design

Koen Beljaars (van Berlo); Harm van Essen (teacher)

in short

Design challenges

I started this course with experience regards User Centered Design, having practiced methods and tools for User Experience (UX) from a participatory design perspective. However, I had the goal to acquaint more theoretical knowledge about the various aspects of UX in design and especially to discover my personal point of view in this.
In the first three weeks of this course I therefore gained many new insights into the various aspects of User Experience, various definitions, aspects of UX design, and evaluating UX. That is why, within the individual UX portfolio, my personal point of view on User Experience is proposed including my own relevant UX definition and descriptions based on literature; weekly logbook reflections; key UX aspects; integration of UX in my past work concluding into my personal proposition in the UX design field. In short: UX is defined for me as a combination of the definition by Roto et al. and Hassenzahl. Namely, User Experience refers to experiences derived from personally encountering systems, products or services which is unique to every individual (especially within special need groups) we are designing for. Next to this, UX is focused on a particular mediator, in my case tangible-digital interactive products, system or service which create, influence and shape the user’s experiences. In the end, crucial for a supportive UX is that the design can be implemented in daily life and that the users have their personal freedom to make it meaningful in their own way. Therefore, Hassenzahl proposes the Why, What, How Model [8] to design for this type of User Experience in which the Why of a design, clarifying the link with the user’s needs, emotions and values, is emphasized. Next to this, the How, the way of interacting with the design and how the value is delivered, is from great importance to transfer the why to the user. In this way, value creation (Why), the creation of meaningful interaction (How) and their interrelation play a crucial role for me in the definition of User Experience. It is a way of closing the gap between the user and/or society and its needs, emotions, and values through interacting with the world around (see more in the Individual UX portflio link).

The UX design challenges in the course were provided by professional companies with different approaches to UX, including Mirabeau (challenge 1), van Berlo (challenge 2) and Essense (challenge 3). In this way, previously acquainted theoretical UX insights could be put into practice and reflected upon in order to refine. Furthermore, it provided a practical perspective on the implementation of UX within different types of companies, giving insights in potential future work possibilities. In short, the first challenge was about a digital car buying experience, the second about a ‘safe’ smart child car seat experience and the final one about the passengers’ airport experience. As a group we performed challenge 2, the challenge by Koen Beljaars from Van Berlo, as if we were a UX design team in that company. For this challenge we designed a new smart child car seat providing a ‘good’ User Experience during long car travels as a young family on the road. In this assignment we also discussed the other two challenges just as a general reflection on putting UX theory into practice and different company UX definitions & approaches.

In the UX manifesto, the third course assignment, me and my group member Pascalle investigated the superpower that 'empathy' is when designing user experiences and delivering value within the complex multi-stakeholder healthcare systems. Especially since we both have a passion for this design context. This was turned into a manifesto with 6 arguments for why 'empathy' is a superpower in UX design (research) in healthcare. In short: empathic design has proven useful in addressing huge societal and systemic challenges, such as education, healthcare, and organizational efficiency. When designing for UX in the context of healthcare, supporting vulnerable target groups, designers need to be sensitive to the highly specialized and personal values from the users within this ever changing society. This because people within this vulnerable healthcare context are restricted in daily life functioning due to all kinds of mental, physical, behavioral and emotional issues leading to specialized needs . In order to support these specialized needs, empathy is key ! Empathy is people’s intuitive ability to identify with others’ lived experiences such as thoughts, feelings, motivations, emotional and mental models, values, priorities, preferences, and inner conflicts. Using empathy helps designers to understand the user, its context, needs and values and so come to the ‘why’ of the design in value creation which is fundamental for UX design. In this way empathy is a powerful force and so a superpower for designers in the field of healthcare, supporting vulnerable target groups when designing for UX (as introduced in the UX manifesto).



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