Designing meaningful products in the digital age: how users value their technological possessions

Daniel R. Orth, Clementine Thurgood, Elise van den Hoven

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Devices such as phones, laptops and tablets have become central to the ways in which many people communicate with others, conduct business and spend their leisure time. This type of product uniquely contains both physical and digital components that affect how they are perceived and valued by users. This article investigates the nature of attachment in the context of technological possessions to better understand ways in which designers can create devices that are meaningful and kept for longer. Findings from our study of the self-reported associations and meaningfulness of technological possessions revealed that the digital contents of these possessions were often the primary source of meaning. Technological possessions were frequently perceived as systems of products rather than as singular devices. We identified several design opportunities for materialising the associations ascribed to the digital information contained within technological products to more meaningfully integrate their physical and digital components.

Original languageEnglish
Article number34
Number of pages28
JournalACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2019


  • Attachment
  • associations
  • design
  • devices
  • digital media
  • physical objects
  • qualitative methods
  • technological products
  • Qualitative methods
  • Technological products
  • Physical objects
  • Associations
  • Devices
  • Design
  • Digital media


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