Dennis Cheatham

Experience-Centered Design Research

July 2, 2021: In The Field

Design isn't about design.
It's about a person's 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
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.


Design and Nielsen: Behind My Tweet and New York Times Interview

February 2, 2016

How the Nielsen TV Viewing Diary connects to design and the tweet that got my story in the New York Times.

  • data gathering
  • design research
  • human behavior
  • human-centered design
  • Interview
  • new york times
  • Publishing
  • qualitative methods
  • quantitative methods
  • surveys
  • television
Design and Nielsen: Behind My Tweet and New York Times Interview

Health Topics Can Be Funny

March 24, 2015

How you present a message about health is as important as the content, itself. Dr. Hamblin's video series "If Our Bodies Could Talk" does both well.

  • funny
  • health
  • humor
  • video
Health Topics Can Be Funny
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.

Living Values

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

Project Site

Rewarding Risk

Creating learning experiences that encourage risk-taking and exploration that are necessary for innovation.

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!

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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 Foundations


Design Research


Design Process


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

A Vocabulary for Complete Design Experiences

To design for relevant and meaningful experiences that people want to repeat, designers must work beyond typical user experience design that considers usability alone. However, experiences are complex and hard to define. AoE4D is a practical framework that helps design teams break experiences into manageable aspects that lead to innovative outcomes.

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.

Forty-eight different aspects comprise the AoE4D framework, spread across the four components. By considering these aspects independently, designers can reduce assumptions that lead to one-size-fits-all design that neglect peoples' unique makeup and needs within various scenarios.

Media that's currently on my iPad, my desk, or in my ears as an audiobook.

Share book reviews and ratings with Dennis, and even join a book club on Goodreads.
Stream of Consciousness

Some thoughts are worth keeping. ThoughtDots are save-worthy Twitter posts that beg to be connected.


Work I am publishing and presenting across various outlets.