Experience Goal -Driven Design Approach

Our relationship with interactive technologies is changing. In the early days, we silently blamed ourselves for not knowing how to use computers. Today, we have learned that the problem is not in us but in the user interfaces that are hard to use. In the future, we will question why we need to use interactive systems in the first place, if we don’t enjoy them, if we do not see the value higher than the effort. We believe providing enjoyable experiences will become the core in design, but how to design for such experiences?

Eventually, we need to expand  the design orientation from incrementally solving problems for an error-free and optimal performance towards creatively seeking potentials for human flourishing (e.g., Desmet and Hassenzahl 2012; Desmet and Pohlmeyer 2013).

The approach we have been developing since 2011 is called Experience Goal -Driven Design. It follows Hassenzahl’s assertion of “experience before product” (Hassenzahl 2010; 2013) and concentrates on highlighting meaningful experiences as high-level design goals in possibility-driven design practices (Lu 2018). In particular, we define the experience goal (Xgoal) as a conceptual instrument that concretizes intended momentary emotion or the meaningful relationship/bond that a person has with the designed product or service. It not only refers to momentary “experiencing” in operation and action levels from a hedonic perspective (e.g., exciting), but also stresses the long-term experience addressing in-depth meaning from a eudaimonic perspective (e.g., trust) (Mekler and Hornbæk 2016). Traditionally, the design goal of broad UX approaches (e.g., Preece, Rogers, and Sharp 2015; Hartson and Pyla 2012) is to remove the negative experiences (e.g., usability, security, reliability problems), whereas Xgoal aims to focus design on creating specific positive experiences.

According to Desmet and Schifferstein (2011), Xgoals underline two intertwined challenges in design practice: what experiences to design for (i.e., Xgoal setting) and how to evoke the targeted experiences by creating the conditions (i.e., Xgoal realisation). Xgoal setting and Xgoal realisation address the core of possibility-driven design, design abduction, in which designers constantly experiment with Xgoals and possible means to evoking a proposed experience until an appropriate match between the two emerge (Dorst 2015a; 2015b). Inevitably, the actual Xgoal-driven design process is iterative, fuzzy and complex. For better and easier understanding of Xgoal-driven design approach, we simplify it into the double diamond design structure: discover, define, ideation and implementation (see Figure 1).

Figure 1. Xgoal-driven design approach

Kaasinen et al. (2015b, 983) propose five different approaches to acquiring insight and inspiration for Xgoal setting:

1) company or brand image,

2) scientific understanding of human beings,

3) empathic understanding of the users’ world,

4) possibilities and challenges of a new technology,

5) reasons for product existence and envision of renewal.  

In scientific literature, we can find several sets of cards for providing a spectrum of experiences (see Table 1). More examples are seen in Xgoal example list and Appendix (Table 2).


Tools Sources for setting Xgoals Related theoretical models
Need cards Seven psychological needs to categorise experiences (Hassenzahl 2014) The three-level hierarchy of goals (Hassenzahl 2010, p.44)
Emotion cards 25 different positive emotions (Yoon, Desmet and Pohlmeyer 2013) Positive Design Framework (Desmet and Pohlmeyer 2013)
Well-being determinant cards Six factors known to increase well-being (Calvo and Peters 2015) Framework for positive computing (Calvo and Peters 2015)
PLEX cards 22 categories of Playful Experiences (Lucero and Arrasvuori 2010) PLEX framework ( Lucero and Arrasvuori 2010)

Table 1. Different cards for providing a spectrum of experiences

Xgoal realisation is through ideation and implementation. The core of Xgoal realisation is to identify the triggers that can evoke the targeted experience. For example, to spend time with others is a trigger for the experience of relatedness. Triggers can be applied into specific context and developed into a concrete concept via different ideation methods, such as storytelling. Additionally, Xgoals provide the direction of concept evaluation. Experience evaluation method can be tailored according to the targeted Xgoals.

Xgoals supports designers to govern experiential design content in concept generation, prototyping and evaluation. In design practice, Xgoals are inevitably balanced with other design objectives, such as sustainability of product usage. The balance between Xgoals and other design objectives can be a future research topic of experience-focused design.




Konecranes Hoist interaction design Competence, Self-Esteem, Proudness Interaction


Metso Automation New UI design for process control system Competence, Enjoyment, Connect- edness UI

Work career path



Rocla E-learning tool for beginner forklift drivers Confidence, Security, Stimulation Competence, Autonomy UI


Fastems Factory automation in 2042 Usefulness, Self-Esteem, Achieve- ment Factory; services


Fastems Factory automation in 2042 Self-Actualisation, Competence, Pleasure A business model


Kone Touchless elevator user inter- face for office buildings Disruption, Discovery, Control UI


Rolls-Royce Thruster sales material Trust, Engagement, Excitement UI


Rolls-Royce Thruster cover Trust, Influence, Stimulation Product lifecycle


Rolls-Royce Monitors for information sharing Connectivity, Engagement, Communication UI


Rolls-Royce Tugboat console redesign Applicable: Trust, Competence. Radical: Proudness, Being in the Spotlight, Connection, Enjoyment Product form; Interaction system


Fastems Product identity Wow, Proudness, Trust Product style; Service touchpoint


Ruukki Promoting a newconstruction material for engineers Stimulation, Trust Package; Events


Ruukki Promoting a newconstruction material for architects Stimulation, Delight, Ambition Events


Konecranes Mobile UI design for crane monitoring service Relational, Empowering, Dynamic UI


Kemppi Mobile UI design for welding training Pleasure, Self-Motivation, Pride UI




Konecranes Service touchpoint Worthiness, Engagement, Belongingness Tangible interaction, Events


Valmet Remote control room Pride, Inspiration UI


Rolls-Royce Portable simulator Sense of Direction, Expertise, Pride UI, Events


Rolls-Royce Internal celebration Confidence, Belongingness, Excellence and Pride Tangible interface, Events


VTT UX tool for the research consultants Connection, Empowerment, Sense of Usefulness, Discovery, and Excitement UX card, Event


Table 2. The Xgoals utilised in the students’ projects


Calvo, R. A., and Peters, D. 2015 Wellbeing Determinant Cards. Retrieved July 1, 2016, from http://www.positivecomputing.org/p/were-pleased-to-share-some-of-tools-and.html
Desmet, P. M. A., and A. E. Pohlmeyer. 2013. “Positive Design: An
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Design 7 (3): 5–19.
Desmet, P. M. A., and M. Hassenzahl. 2012. “Towards Happiness:
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Hartson, Rex, and Pardha S. Pyla. 2012. The UX Book: Process and
Guidelines for Ensuring a Quality User Experience. Waltham, MA: Elsevier.
Hassenzahl, M. 2010. Experience Design. Technology for All the Right
Reasons. San Francisco, CA: Morgan & Claypool.
Hassenzahl, M. 2013. “Experiences before things: a primer for the (yet)
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Hassenzahl, M. 2014. Need Cards. Retrieved September 11, 2016, from https://hassenzahl.wordpress.com/experience-design-tools/
Kaasinen, Eija, Virpi Roto, Jaakko Hakulinen, Tomi Heimonen, Jussi P P Jokinen, Hannu
Karvonen, Tuuli Keskinen, et al. 2015b. “Defining User Experience Goals to Guide the Design of Industrial
Systems.” Behaviour & Information Technology 34 (10): 976–991.
Lu, Y., 2018. “Experience goals in designing professional tools: evoking
meaningful experiences at work”. Doctoral diss., Aalto University.
Lucero, A., and Juha Arrasvuori. 2010. PLEX Cards: a source of inspiration when designing for playfulness. In Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference on Fun and Games 28-37. ACM.
Mekler, Elisa D, and Kasper Hornbæk. 2016. “Momentary Pleasure or
Lasting Meaning?: Distinguishing Eudaimonic and Hedonic User Experiences.” In
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Preece, Jenny, Yvonne Rogers, and Helen Sharp. 2015. Interaction Design:
beyond human-computer interaction. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons.
Yoon, J, Pieter MA Desmet, and Anna E Pohlmeyer. 2013. “Embodied
Typology of Positive Emotions: the Development of a Tool to Facilitate
Emotional Granularity in Design.” In 5th International Congress of
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