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What is Experience Design?

And how can it help you?

As event designers our game has changed. We now create experiences and journeys, not just one off moments in time. Consumer expectations are greater, but opportunities boundless. We can still draw on the fundamental power of shared real life experiences, and now have these amplified by technology.

And living in an ‘experience’ or ‘engagement economy’ this is relevant to more than just event creators, our world has changed whether you are a marketer in entertainment, sport, retail, or arguably any industry. We know we need to evolve, to innovate.

I’ve heard innovation being defined “as the productive application of our creativity” and ideally we need a philosophy, a methodology and tools to guide us in our thinking, toward these creative outcomes.

And this is where ‘Experience Design Thinking’ comes in. An evolution of ‘Design Thinking’ and the ‘Service Design’ family, the ‘Experience’ version follows the same principles, applied via a slightly different lens.

Experience Design Thinking principles

Absorbing Lean Start up, UX and Agile methods at times, ‘XD’ Thinking follow’s the principles made famous by IDEO, of a human centered, co-creating collaborative approach, with divergent and convergent thinking, in ‘think – do – learn’ sprint cycles.

But why?

Our aim is to create great experiences. And we believe we can do this better with a deeper understanding the ‘experiencer’ and the world around them, with the outcomes more likely to engage our audiences by meeting personal needs and desires.

and how?

I’ve packaged up my thoughts and tools in the Experience Design Playbook.

Let me know if you’d like me to walk you through it.

Some tools of our trade

The basic tool in an ‘XD’ Thinkers toolkit is the Customer Journey Map, and a great starting point in any experience design, and, the reference map in any experience execution.

It may seem like nothing happens without a ‘Canvas’ or a Post-It note these days. But it is the best way to get the ideas out of minds and shared with others, not hidden in a word doc or locked into a powerpoint.

In essence, a customer journey map is really quite a simple concept: an illustration that details all of the touch points at your organisation that a customer comes into contact with as he/she attempt to achieve a goal, and the emotions they experience during that journey.

So keep it simple for starters, and look for patterns. Key moments.

  1. We start by looking at the journey, the life of a target audience, creating personas. What are they doing in life, thinking, feeling, ‘walking in their shoes’ we call it. We know we must also look at the world around them, the social and environmental influences at play. Taking an ‘ecological’ view.

From Consumer Journey to Experience Maps

2. We then look at how we can play a role in their lives, what interactions we might have that are of value in influencing their behaviour. In comms, across various channels, whether online or ‘IRL’ touch points.

3. And this directs our actions, what plans we create.

From their perspective we ask is it making for a better experience, allowing them to do more, feel more, belong more, and be more? Are we understanding their pains and the gains they have, in their life, and in life with us. The barriers and hurdles, the drivers and motivators. Those functional decisions, emotional, social and life factors that all play up in our decision making journeys.

Then from our perspective are we creating a desirable, feasible and viable campaign experience?

And most importantly we run these actions thru the lens of whether or not that will provide value in changing attitude and behaviour. In our customers and toward the partners, the brands and stakeholders of our campaign.

The process of building these maps can become complex with infinite scenarios and influences on a journey, so it is important to focus on the patterns, the most influential moments of impact and elements of value. The mapping process requires research and a true understanding of the customer. Use information and insights to understand and make better decisions. The map must at least be truly reflective of what the customer is experiencing at a personal level, not an assumed or ideal state.

This does take an investment of time, but the process is so valuable, to collaborate and productively apply your creative thinking. No two maps will be exactly the same, with the design varying according to the customer and campaign being mapped out. But the learnings from the creation, and evaluation of each journey is powerful.

There is a lot to discover through this approach, I hope this captures some useful pointers for those that want to explore this way of working.

Enjoy immersing yourself in the real world of your customers.

This is Experience Design Thinking.

We will share more on Experience Design in future weeks, and I’d love to talk to you more about it…

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