Idea of Space & Feeling of Presence
The user space experience.
The primary purpose of architecture is to control a person’s experience.
Architects design things to help us have the experiences we desire. And when we say one of these apps is “well designed” we aren’t talking about what it looks like. What we are talking about is how well it create the kind of the experience we want to have when we are inside.
This create structures that people must enter in order to use. Developers cant create experiences directly, instead must rely on the use of indirect control to guide people into having the right kind of experience and create structures that have no point other than to engender experiences that make people happy.
While developers can learn a lot about creating meaningful and powerful app from architect, by no means do developers have to follow every rule of architecture. Where do you begin?
You need to create a map, you might get a better sense of how your app work and take reference from the market to make a mock-up.
These different organizing principles are often combined to make interesting new type of apps.
Christopher Alexander is an architect who has devoted his life to studying how places make us feel. His first book, The Timeless Way of Building (1979), tries to describe how there is a unique quality shared by spaces and objects that are truly well designed. as he puts it:
Imagine yourself on a winter afternoon with a pot of tea, a reading light, and two or three huge pillows to lean back against. Now make yourself comfortable. Not in some way which you can show to other people, and say how much you like it. I mean so that you really like it, for yourself.
You put the tea where you can reach it: but in a place where you can’t possibly knock it over. You pull the light down, to shine on the book, but not too brightly, and so that you can’t see the naked bulb. You put the cushions behind you, and place them, carefully, one by one, just where you want them, to sup- port your back, your neck, your arm: so that you are supported just comfortably, just as you want to sip your tea, and read, and dream.
When you take the trouble to do all that, and you do it carefully, with much attention, then it may begin to have the quality which has no name.
Alexander notes than things that have the nameless quality usually have these aspects: they feel
- alive, hold an energy
- whole, like nothing is missing
- free from inner contradictions
This last one is tremendously important because inner contradictions are at the heart of any bad design. Is a App is supposed to make my life easier, and is hard to use, that is a contradiction.
How do you know that your surroundings are real, and not an illusion? We are presented with illusions all day long… photographs, videos, even 3D movies. Videos and movies, especially, have a power to pull in our consciousness, and fully engage our minds. but, as engrossing as they may be, and as realistic as they may look, we are never fooled into thinking they are real, in a real place with us, because we can see and feel that our bodies are not in the same place as the images we look upon.
We might project our minds into these experiences, but we never project our bodies. But at night, we go to sleep, and dream. And in our dreams, we are presented with another set of illusions. Despite their many gaps in logic we accept them in the moment as real, so real that sometimes we wake with a smile of delight on our lips, or with a shout of dismay in our throats. the illusions of dreams are different than most waking illusions. In dreams, not only do we experience rich sights and sounds (all without using our eyes and ears), but we experience smell, taste, and touch, and something more. In dreams, even our bodies seem to be present in the illusions our minds create, and as a result, we believe the places and events we dream are real.
Different user experiences are suited as a kind of new reality. Then we create:
- Logical Reality defines the rules of cause and effect.
- Spatial Reality defines how I move through space.
- Perceptive Reality defines where it feels like my body is.
- Social Reality defines how I interact with others.
We create the power of presence. About that you can see your self on and think about: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Medium, WhatsApp, Duolingo, Slack, Tinder, news apps, Netflix, Amazon, Candy Crush.
Presence might be more important than it seems. After all, some say that the secret to happiness is “to be present”.
Unfortunately, presence does not come for free with these technologies. Presence is a fragile illusion, a magician’s trick where one awkward interaction can spoil the hole effects. Spend time working on this come to realize how fragile an illusion presence really is, and how much effort must be expended to preserve it.
But in presence some times is acceptable to hide stuff when a thing is in use because you know that and show a tool maybe interfere with the experience while we manipulate the environment around them. You know that it is still there.
Different Hardware Enables Different Experiences
Different inputs define the experience you create. See the entire ecosystem: watch, phone, foldable phones, TV, car. Systems that require standing still create very different experiences from ones that give user the freedom to walk around. The powerful experience of presence that they provide makes me certain that they will have a permanent and important place in the world. And though their forms and technology will evolve and change rapidly. The importance of presence in these platforms will remain constant.
Given that presence is so influenced by the look and feel of your experience, this might be a good time to talk about aesthetics.