Impact-Centered Design: Introducing an Integrated Framework of the Psychological and Behavioral Effects of Design
Steven Fokkinga, Pieter Desmet, Paul Hekkert


This paper introduces a framework for impact-centered design that maps the direct and indirect psychological, social, and behavioral effects resulting from human-product interactions, as well as the strategic pathways that designers utilize to achieve these effects. The framework was created through a series of expert workshops in which 186 design cases were analyzed. The framework includes three basic levels. At the base, user-product interaction evokes three types of direct product experience: aesthetic experience, experience of meaning, and emotional experience. The second level describes more indirect and long-term types of impact: on behaviors, attitudes, (general) experiences, and users’ and stakeholders’ knowledge. The third and final level represents the general quality of life and society. This paper details the characteristics of and theoretical models underlying the various impact areas, provides illustrative student design cases, and describes how the impact areas relate to each other and how design can influence them. Design research can help increase the designer’s influence by contributing theoretical models that explain the various relationships in the impact areas. We propose a three-part classification of these models to get an overview of the current state of knowledge of each impact area, and to discuss the different ways in which models can guide designers. In the discussion, we offer four action points to help set a concerted agenda for impact-centered design research.

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