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Learning Experience Design From Superman

In the 30s & 40s, Siegel & Shuster’s Superman hit newsstands alongside Batman & Wonder Woman creating the Golden Age of Comics. WWII provided the stage for Chapanis & Fitts to establish the field of Experience Design through their efforts to redesign airplane cockpits to consider human factors.
Since, the two fields have continued to shape our culture. In the 60s both gave us new heroes. Comics’ Silver Age brought us the Fantastic Four & Spider-Man. XD helped put Armstrong on the Moon.
The Modern Age came in the 80s with Moore’s Watchmen & the Internet. In the 90s, Norman coined ‘user experience’ to encompass fields like information architecture, usability, etc.
While the Dark Knight Rises and Apple’s iPhone may not seem to be equal contributions to society, the latter learned from the former.
This talk will draw out principles & lessons from classics like the Spirit to modern bestsellers like Fables that any designer can apply to make their next project more engaging & memorable.

Additional Supporting Materials


  1. How does the narrative approach and blend of images and text in comic books parallel the experience design process where complex themes and objectives are delivered in a simple and engaging way?
  2. Why does an understanding of the relationship between a panel to a page to an issue to an arc to a series lead to better experiences when designing applications, websites, products and environments?
  3. What role does trust play in the relationship between the creator and the reader? How does that translate to the role it plays between an experience and the individual interacting with it?
  4. When is it time to break the rules of continuity or usability to deliver a better experience that individuals will appreciate and actually use? Why is it critical to know what came before when making that decision to break the rules?
  5. Why didn’t I know that about Batman, the Flash and Wolverine? When did Experience Design get to be so fun?



Timothy Parcell, Manager, Experience Design, SapientNitro

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