Dennis Cheatham

Experience-Centered Design Research

October 8, 2023: In The Field

Design isn't about design.
It's about the experience.

Whether a person is drinking coffee, plowing a field, or telling their sister they love them, what people use to do these is not the point—their experience while using them is what matters. As much as designers like to celebrate their beautifully crafted or technologically advanced work, if the design gets in the way, it fails.

I examine the interplay between contexts, people, and design to better understand these experiences—why they fail or flourish, their inner workings, and how to design for better experiences.

My Work
I seek answers to three questions.

Interpreting Experience Design Scenes
What about peoples' makeup, reasoning, emotions, and surrounding environment are worth considering to guide what features of products, services, and systems will facilitate experiences they value?
Current Post
Weekly Reflections

Reflection is a way to make meaning. Every week, I ask learners in my courses to reflect on the week behind. Here's where I practice what I preach.

Thoughts & Updates

Posts on a variety of topics and updates about my work. Off-the-cuff, on-the-fly, top-of-mind, and other hyphenated kinds of thinking.

Project Spotlight
Design Workbench

The Design Workbench website showcases ongoing design research projects. It houses tutorials and articles to help readers learn more about becoming an experience-centered designer. It also features a podcast that introduces listeners to critical experience-centered design concepts.

tools on a workbench

Design's impact on people and their communities is best understood when seen in action. I created the Design Workbench website to reveal how to develop useful, usable, and desirable products, services, and systems and what happens when these outcomes succeed or miss the mark.

These research projects are currently on the workbench.

people looking at a photo book together

Making advance care planning relevant and accessible for people in underserved communities.

Project Site

Design Workbench Podcast

How do designers create apps people love or intuitive services that anticipate peoples' needs? The Design Workbench podcast demystifies how experience-centered design works and what goes into creating outcomes that exceed peoples' expectations.

The Design Workbench podcast is coming soon!

Design Workbench: Learn

Explore over fifty pages of tutorials, resources, and materials on design research, strategy, and production such as the ones listed below.

Design is all around. If you look closely, you'll notice how a product's style or a service's steps were designed to create experiences. Observed posts reveal the subtle ways apps, services, and items in the wild make life easier for people and sometimes even create delight.

Below are the most recent Observed posts. See more at Design Workbench.

Project Spotlight
Aspects of Experiences for Design

For an app or health clinic to deliver a fantastic experience, the product's features must match the experiencer—the person using the design. The challenge facing designers who care about these experiences is deciphering what parts of a person's physical and emotional makeup should drive those features.

people riding a bus

Experience Design Factors

The Building Blocks of Designed Experiences

XDF is a practical framework that can help teams examine matters that lead to co-creating memorable experiences.

Examining experiences begins with defining the activities people complete when they use design.

Next, we can divide the individual's experience while performing an activity into four distinct components.

Sixty different factors comprise the XDF framework, spread across the four components. By considering these factors independently, designers can reduce assumptions that lead to one-size-fits-all design that neglect peoples' unique makeup and needs within various scenarios.

Stream of Consciousness

Some thoughts are worth keeping. ThoughtDots are save-worthy posts that connect to form significant ideas worth investigating.


Work I am publishing and presenting across various outlets.

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