Beyond good UX

My current research has led me to immersive experiences where people can dive into a new world and interact with an environment. But I got occupied with another topic and a question peaked my interest. Can a good user experience be bad for the user? The answer may seem obvious, great UX can lead to hours of engagement and low user-frustration with an application. But the system was designed that way.

We develop and design new addictive products with less and less obstacles and friction-less interactions and infinite-scrolls that are so highly immersive that people spend hours looking at their screens that keeps them so powerfully occupied. Technology has a huge effect on our mental structure and uses our psychological mechanism to manipulate our behavior.

Even user-centered design seems to be all about low error-rate and high conversion. In order to create a pleasant experience. We mustn’t mistake user-centered design with convenient consumption. Design could aim higher giving people their attention back and hand them a tool that benefit their needs and nobody else’s.

Eudaimonia-Centered Design

With eudaimonia-centered design human well-being is in the center. Aristotle argued that eudaimonia – human flourishing is the highest end we all strive for. It requires virtuous activity and not just being in a state of mind. So finding meaning and engagement in the things we do. This can be translated and implemented when we design new products for people. User-centered design does a great job, by putting learned patterns and behavior into the design process. Products get more accessible and user friendly in this sense. Eudaimonistic-centered design does the same but goes a step further and asks whether the product in itself is good for the user’s well-being.

Possibility-Driven Design

Possibility-driven design is an approach that draws upon happiness to motivate the design of future technologies. Pieter Desmet and Marc Hassenzahl argue that problem-solving became an obsession beyond the acceptable. Problem-driven design is primarily about avoiding, solving, or neutralizing the negative, the moment it arises. But avoiding the problems in a design or system is not equal with a pleasurable experience. With every design iteration the solution evolves another problem and this never ending-cycle focusing on the problems rather the possibilities to transform and transcend an object, leaves us with new issues we never had to deal with before. Through the mindset of activities being problems that could be improved, our day-to-day activities became chores we want to avoid, than to simply looking at them in a pleasurable way. Because possibilities can become future prospects that drives innovation and to create new beneficial systems for people.

The main question for my thesis is:

How can immersive technology benefit our well-being?

Technology has the potential to thrive people’s ambitions and to contribute to their well-being. I want to explore the positive and negative effects of engaging technology. Comparing different studies on the impact on our mental health to find out what brings us peace and improve our life.

Steps for my thesis:

  • Collect evidence of harmful technology
  • Gain knowledge about technology having a positive effect on our well being
  • Create a system that promotes well being


Eudaimonistic-centered design

Digital products should be non-harmful. It’s time we embraced that.

Towards happiness: Possibility-driven design

There are already some incredible guides to take control over our phones: