Intuitive interaction: Steps towards an integral understanding of the user experience in interaction design

Kaltenbacher, Brigitte. 2008. Intuitive interaction: Steps towards an integral understanding of the user experience in interaction design. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

A critical review of traditional practices and methodologies demonstrates an underplaying of firstly the role of emotions and secondly aspects of exploration in interaction behaviour in favour of a goal orientated focus in the user experience (UX). Consequently, the UX is a commodity that can be designed, measured, and predicted.

An integral understanding of the UX attempts to overcome the rationalistic and instrumental mindset of traditional Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) on several levels. Firstly, the thesis seeks to complement a functional view of interaction with a qualitative one that considers the complexity of emotions. Emotions are at the heart of engagement and connect action irreversibly to the moment it occurs; they are intettwined with cognition, and decision making. Furthermore, they introduce the vague and ambiguous aspects of experience and open it up to potentiality of creation. Secondly, the thesis examines the relationship between purposive and non-purposive user behaviour such as exploration, play and discovery. The integral position proposed here stresses the procedurally relational nature and complexity of interaction experience. This requires revisiting and augmenting key themes of HCI practice such as interactivity and intuitive design. Intuition is investigated as an early and unconscious form of learning, and unstructured browsing discussed as random interaction mechanisms as forms of implicit learning. Interactivity here is the space for user's actions, contributions and creativity, not only in the design process but also during interaction as co-authors of their experiences. Finally, I envisage integral forms of usability methods to embrace the vague and the ambiguous, in order to enrich HCI's vocabulary and design potential. Key readings that inform this position cut across contemporary philosophy, media and interaction studies and professional HCI literature. On a practical level, a series of experimental interaction designs for web-browsing aim to augment the user's experience, and create space for user's intuition.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):


Interaction, intuition, non-instrumental needs, exploratory interaction, emotional usability, HCI

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Centre for Cultural Studies (1998-2017)



Item ID:


Date Deposited:

05 Jun 2020 13:32

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 12:35


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