Do Users Know What Designers Are Up To? Product Experience and the Inference of Persuasive Intentions
Nathan Crilly


The study of how users experience designed products typically focuses on the relationship between particular product features and the responses that those features elicit. This article suggests that such work should also consider the design intentions that users infer from those features. In doing so, a distinction is drawn between users responding to a product in a certain way and users recognising that the product was designed to elicit such responses. The consideration of product experience would then parallel literature on the interpretation of many other kinds of artefact, including literary works, artworks, cinema, brands and advertisements. In particular, this article considers empirical studies in the field of consumer research that consider consumers’ inferences of advertisers’ persuasive intentions. This prompts key research questions about the inferences that users make about designers’ intentions. It also suggests a number of promising adaptations to conventional research methods to address such questions. The paper argues that studying the inferences users make about designers’ intentions is an open research area with the potential to challenge and complement our understanding of how people experience the designed world.

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