Experience with Technology: Understanding the dynamics of User Experience and consumption of portable media devices

Ali al-Azzawi 

PhD passed in April 2010


The notion of User Experience (UX) has provoked an increasing number of debates about the nature of UX, within several disciplines such as HCI, design, and marketing. In order to address this question in a structured manner, this project focuses on gaining an empirically derived understanding of the underlying psychological dimensions and processes that people use to make sense of their experience with technology. The project is also designed to explore the changes that take place during interaction with technological devices at various timescales. Indeed, the very nature of time and meaning is explored in the context of UX. Since Kelly’s Personal Construct Theory (PCT) is fundamentally concerned with how people experience and make sense of events, it is used as a theoretical and methodological starting point to this project. As a derivative of PCT methodology, the Multiple Sorting Procedure (MSP) is used in this project along with standard experimental psychology methods such as rating scales and interviews, in order to provide access to people’s constructs and conceptualisations of their experiences.

Specifically, four major studies are undertaken to examine people’s experiences with portable media devices (MP3 players). The first study is designed to identify the constructs that people use to make sense of MP3 players. These findings are then used to explore the dynamics of UX during early interaction, as well as long-term use. The quantitative and qualitative data are analysed with variants of Multidimensional Scaling (MDS), as well as standard statistical analysis, and content analysis of interview data. The results show a group of super-ordinate constructs that undergo a change in the way they relate to each other upon interaction. The data also illustrate how different constructs vary in their response to experience. Also, relationships between the users and; objects, brand, and others are seen to be a key aspect of UX. This research concludes by proposing a model of UX that consolidates the above understandings and findings into a workable framework of UX that may be useful for designers, as well as being an empirically grounded starting point for further research.

Supervisors: Prof. David Frohlich and Dr. Margaret Wilson.

Contact: A.Al-Azzawi@surrey.ac.uk


Al-Azzawi, A., Frohlich, D., & Wilson, M. (2010). Stability of User Experience: Changes in constructs as users transition from anticipated to actualised interaction. Full paper, presented at the iHCI-2010 conference, Dublin.

Al-Azzawi, A., Frohlich, D., & Wilson, M. (in press). Eliciting Users' Experience with Technology. In M. Fromm & D. Bourne (Eds.), Book containing selected publications from the European Personal Construct Association (EPCA) conference, 2008.

Al-Azzawi, A., Frohlich, D., & Wilson, M. (2007). Beauty constructs for MP3 players. CoDesign - International Journal of CoCreation in Design and the Arts, Affective Communication in Design - Challenges for Researchers (3-S1), 59-74. (Presented at the Affective Communications in Design conference at Leeds University on 22nd June 2007)

Conference abstracts & presentations

Al-Azzawi, A., Frohlich, D., & Wilson, M. (2009). Eliciting Users’ Experience with Media Devices. Abstract and presentation at COST298, University of Udine, Italy.

Al-Azzawi, A., Frohlich, D., & Wilson, M. (2008). User Experience: A Multiple Sorting Method based on Personal Construct Theory. Paper presented at the Proceedings of the CHI 2008 Conference on Computer-Human Interaction - Extended Abstract.

Al-Azzawi, A., Frohlich, D., & Wilson, M. (2007). Experience and Aesthetics with Media Devices. Abstract and presentation at the Festival of Research, University of Surrey, U.K.

Al-Azzawi, A., Wilson, M., & Frohlich, D. (2006). Users' First impressions of MP3 players. Paper presented at the First International Symposium on Culture Creativity and Interaction Design (CCID), London. (Presented at the BCS HCI-2006 Conference in London, 2006).