Thesis | Theories and models and their practical relevance for UX design

Theoretical thesis to finish my degree in Communication and Knowledge Media.


Nowadays, with the ever so growing amount of digital products and services, one aspect in the field of Human Computer Interaction (HCI) has become increasingly important: User Experience (UX). When creating digital products or services for a user, the essence of providing them with products, which are not only functional but are also aesthetically pleasing, efficient, satisfactory and enjoyable, has become a major part of our digital world. Starting in the 1980s, many theories and models have emerged trying to explain how and why people perceive different interactive interfaces.


However, as user experience is a subjective feeling, therefore differs for every person, it proves to be a challenge for designers and developers as how to create a product which provides the best user experience. In addition to that, there are various different definitions of the term user experience, which adds to the above mentioned challenge. The models and theories discussed in this thesis try to explain and pinpoint how a human perceives figures such as elements and forms, for example the cognitive model Model Human Processor or the psychological model Gestalt gesetz. Mental models, such as the Seven Stages of Action or the Four Affordances try to evaluate what is necessary to ensure the user reaches their goal effectively. More recent models, such as Reality-Based Interaction and Blended Interaction draw their focus on how and why certain interfaces are perceived as more natural and what effect that aspect has on user experience.


Nonetheless, these models are not necessarily the most practical when it comes to developing and designing interactive systems, as they might be too abstract or simply outdated by now to use effectively.  This thesis discusses the practical relevance of said theoretical models, with its focus lying on the establishment of quality user experience. It has to be said that generally, designers should be familiar with these models and furthermore, have to know whether or not they are applicable for their individual project. Models such as Reality-Based Interaction prove to be promising when it comes to creating interactive system as they provide the designer with various usable explanations and best-practices how to enhance the user experience by making the system seem more natural. In addition to that, the main focus of the designer should always lie on the individual user and their capabilities, experiences, knowledge and expectations of modern interactive interfaces.


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