Extreme experience interviews for innovative designs: Classroom assessment of a new needs-gathering method

Matthew Green*, Carolyn Conner Seepersad, Katja Holtta-Otto

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionScientificpeer-review


A recently published "Extreme Experience Design1" method places interviewees in simulations that parallel physical disabilities (such as wearing dark glasses to simulate low vision) in order to elicit normally-hidden product needs. This new needs-gathering technique equips students with awareness and skills to design for persons with disabilities, as well as an interview method leading to breakthrough design innovations through uncovering latent (hidden) needs. Traditionally-taught needs gathering interviews typically lead to parametric needs and thus incremental design changes; however, the latent needs uncovered with extreme experience interviews are often non-parametric and offer greater potential for breakthrough innovations. We implemented the new extreme experience interview technique in 1st year Cornerstones Design and 3rd year Design Methods courses through a slide-based lecture and a live demonstration of the interview method. We then surveyed ∼100 students from both classes across two semesters in order to assess student learning and the effectiveness of the interview method for uncovering user needs. We also analyzed a subset of 26 design team interview transcripts for new information elicited by extreme experience interviews following a "benchmark" articulated use interview. Building upon previously reported work2, results include a summary of student surveys, analysis of customer needs before and after extreme experience interviews, and a qualitative review of redesign ideas generated. The surveys show students understand and like both the "normal" benchmark articulated-use interviews and the extreme experience interview technique and would like to re-use them on future projects. Surveys also indicate strong agreement that extreme experience interviews "inspired ideas that are better for average users as well." An examination of interview transcripts shows the extreme experience interviews are valuable not only for uncovering a much more comprehensive set of customer needs, especially with respect to product-user interactions, but also for obtaining innovative redesign suggestions from customers themselves. The results collectively show extreme experience interviews are an effective and valuable addition to the design process in these courses, with additional room for improvement in teaching technique.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication2010 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition
PublisherAmerican Society for Engineering Education
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 2010
MoE publication typeA4 Article in a conference publication
EventASEE Annual Conference - Louisville, United States
Duration: 20 Jun 201023 Jun 2010
Conference number: 117

Publication series

NameASEE Annual Conference
ISSN (Print)2153-5868
ISSN (Electronic)2153-5965


ConferenceASEE Annual Conference
CountryUnited States

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