Written by Ariad Communications on July 25, 2014
in Customer Experience

I have been following UX related conversations and debates over the past couple of years, and in most cases, it does not go unnoticed that we are yet to define what UX entails as a profession and what it is that UXers do!

Let’s put things in perspective and contextualize what it means to design an experience! I would like to encourage you to think beyond the vanity titles for a moment and use logic instead. Writing this post, I’d like to propose that you think of experience design as a strategic mindset and look for experience designers as systems thinkers who transform beautiful thinking into beautiful experiences.

Role of Experience Design

Brand strategists and brand designers design what a brand stands for, what its purpose is and what it promises. Design strategists and experience designers, on the other hand, are responsible for designing how the brand will deliver on that promise through its product-service ecosystem.

Experience designers are facilitators by role and translators by discipline; they translate and transform a business-rooted strategy to a design-rooted reality. They help deliver on the promise of the brand and create meaningful experiences that allow for a dialog between people and the brand.

However there are 3 principles which are often missed or misunderstood in the process. Here at Ariad we put these 3 principles back in the core of our incomplete manifesto for experience design.

1. Stop calling them “users”!

The problem sometimes starts by using non-inclusive labels! If we debunk the vanity titles and start to think beyond “User Experience”, “User Profile”and “User Interaction”, we are allowing ourselves to think more holistically about people. Remember, “people”includes more than just the end-user of a product or service. It includes the consumer, the customer, the buyer, the passersby, the client, the employee, the patient, the caregiver, etc.

Narrowing your audience by thinking of them as your “users”objectifies how you think about people. As a result, the experience created for your “users”is measurable only against your business objectives and does not portray a human-centric mindset.

Designing meaningful experiences requires our in-depth understanding of human behaviour and psychology, their complex qualities, expectations, intents, wants, needs and desires.

So, practice empathy and human-centred design principles and depending on your industry or category pick your audience right and stop calling them your “users”!

2. Not everything is digital!

Another issue persisting with some of the vanity titles is the non-inclusive connotations associated with them. The role of UX for example is often considered on a team in direct association with digital outputs only.

Yes, there is a lot of talk, focus and criticism around digital elitism, and yes, the majority of Silicon Valley is investing in digital products and services, but some of the successful business acquisitions and transaction of the past year or so have happened where digital meets a form of physical. Internet of Things and the hype over Wearable Tech are proof that not everything is digital! Human experience is dependent on multi-sensory input; it is continuous; It is as analog and tactile as it is digital; it is as on-line as it is off-line; it is as personal as it is social. Human experience extends and reaches beyond just one touch point in a journey.

So, map out the entire journey; identify all touch points; identify unmet pain points in the journey and address them using the right medium. It is okay if that medium is not digital!  Read more here.

3. Experience design is not a task, nor is it a job title!

Experience design, in fact, is a mindset. It is a way of thinking. Designing memorable experiences is a team sport. It is the outcome of an orchestrated design process embraced by all members of the team. Design strategists and experience designer tend to take on the role of facilitation and orchestration but this does not mean that it is solely their job or responsibility to deliver that outcome! Your brand, at an organizational level, must believe in this or else you are not fulfilling your brand’s purpose.

So, educate and empower your entire team to work collaboratively, engage the right stakeholders, and transform beautiful thinking into beautiful experiences.






















Photo credit: Anne Hamilton Studio (The event of a Thread)

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