Tuesday, May 19, 2009

User Experience Design and McLuhan

In looking to explain User Experience Design I started thinking about McLuhan's statement that "The Medium is the Message." He was explaining, for example, that the car was not just about the car but the entire "environment" that it took to support the car: gas stations, oil companies, rubber plantations, auto unions, etc. In looking at a picture of a car you don't see the entire environment. The message is bigger than the product itself; it is the environment the product requires. User Experience Design is about looking at this entire environment when creating a new artifact. In fact creating a new product may including creating a substantial part of the supporting environment. The user does not use the new product or technology in a vacuum but within a larger context. For example, a picture of an iPod does not show you iTunes, the iTunes store or the Apple Store with the Genius Bar. Good design looks at the entire environment. Because McLuhan's Laws of Media apply within this environment, a good designer would benefit from studying them. Simply, User Experience Design has made a discipline out of the "The Message" of a new product.

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