Appropriation User Experience (UX) topic overview/definition
Appropriation: Concept Definition
In a user experience (UX) design context, appropriation refers to the use of a product in a way the designer did not intend. This form of appropriation is generally considered positive, because it increases the ways people can use a design. An example of appropriation would be using newspapers as rags for cleaning windows. Thus, designs become versatile.
Appropriation of a design for a new use is likely to create new sales and possibly even new markets for a product. Although designers cannot control when or how users will appropriate a design, they can create designs that encourage users to do this. Human-Computer Interaction Professor Alan Dix describes seven guidelines for designing for appropriation:
- Allow for interpretation by leaving at least some parts of the system open for the user to determine how they should be used.
- Provide visibility by providing more information about a system’s state than you expect the user to require.
- Expose intentions: making the intentions for the use of a product clear to the user can help keep appropriation within acceptable limits.
- Support the user; don’t control what they can do.
- Plugability and configuration: design products so users are able to modify them freely.
- Encourage sharing within a community of users.
- Learn from appropriation: if you can discover how your designs are being appropriated, you can begin to adopt those appropriations into your designs.
Appropriation—whose literal meaning is taking something for one’s own purposes, usually without the owner’s consent—thus, appropriately, expands the scope and potential for designers to access new and unexpected realms, thanks largely to giving their products’ users free rein. In some cases, designers may find the moderately selling creation they have in their intended market achieving far greater success due to its ‘misuse’ elsewhere.
For your convenience, we’ve collected all UX literature that deals with Appropriation. Here’s the full list:
Useful, Usable, and Used: Why They Matter to Designers
The Dynamics of Use – Design Considerations
The use of a product may be considered as a cycle. Before a user is aware of a product they exist outside of that cycle. Once they are aware of it, they may be considered as being in a state of “pre-use”. If awareness sparks interest they may begin to use the product. This may be a single event or it may be a repeated event over days, weeks, mon...
Appropriation: The Reasons that Users Appropriate Products
When you get up in the morning do you brush your teeth? You almost certainly do. If you use a mouthwash, such as Listerine, as part of your teeth cleaning ritual then we’ve got a nasty surprise for you. Did you know that Listerine wasn’t invented as a breath freshener? It was first marketed 133 years ago for something entirely different; as a su...
Emotional Drivers for User and Consumer Behavior
In his paper; “Conditional Reflexes” the scientist Ivan Pavlov proved that a dog could be conditioned to respond to a stimulus. He presented a dog with food and the dog began to salivate. He also rang a bell every time he presented the food. Eventually he could ring the bell and cause the dog to salivate without any food being present. The act o...
Appropriation and Design: A Tale of Two Concepts
Appropriation is an unusual word for designers in that it has two very distinct meanings. Both are relevant to designers and both need careful consideration but for very different reasons.Appropriation is either: The use of pre-existing objects/images within a design or art with marginal amounts of transformation applies to them. Yet there is an...
Guidelines for Design for Appropriation
Appropriation occurs when a user takes a design and puts it to use in a way that wasn’t anticipated by the designer. This can have real benefits for a product; it enables the product to become more useful and can increase the product’s appeal to different audiences and increase its market life too. However, how do you design for things that you ...