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Toward an articulation of interaction aesthetics

Open Access:

Löwgren, Jonas. (2009). Toward an articulation of interaction aesthetics. New Review of Hypermedia and Multimedia 15(2).

INTRODUCTION – Aesthetics in interaction design are too often equated with static appearance, i.e., how the screens and devices look. This article is an attempt to develop concepts more appropriate for talking about how the interaction feels over time. I use interaction criticism as a “method” to formulate pliability, rhythm, dramaturgical structure and fluency as four aesthetic interaction qualities.

Even though the emerging field of user experience generally acknowledges the importance of aesthetic qualities in interactive products and services, there is a lack of approaches recognizing the fundamentally temporal nature of interaction aesthetics. By means of interaction criticism, I introduce four concepts that begin to characterize the aesthetic qualities of interaction.

Pliability refers to the sense of malleability and tightly coupled interaction that makes the use of an interactive visualization captivating. Rhythm is an important characteristic of certain types of interaction, from the sub-second pacing of musical interaction to the hour-scale ebb and flow of peripheral emotional communication. Dramaturgical structure is not only a feature of online role-playing games, but plays an important role in several design genres from the most mundane to the more intellectually sophisticated. Fluency is a way to articulate the gracefulness with which we are able to handle multiple demands for our attention and action in augmented spaces.