Let me start by noting that Experience Design is not just about design aesthetics. When you hear the term Experience Design, it can often bring to mind a beautifully designed website or advertisement by relating the word “design” to mean “the creation of something visual.”
Our lives are made up of a series of experiences. When you wake up and hit the snooze button, while you drive to work, when you go out to eat, as you walk through the park, you are living through an experience. Every aspect of our lives could be improved and enhanced by understanding how those experiences affect us mentally and physically.
Why should businesses focus on experience design?
Because people are your biggest asset. If you provide an intuitive and delightful experience, your customers will be inclined to write positive reviews, tell their friends, and become repeat customers. This is an essential step in strengthening your brand.
Experience design is not something that is done once and left alone. People’s habits and expectations are forever evolving and experience design should be a process that fosters innovation to enhance life (your customers’ individual experiences).
What happens if you don’t focus on experience design?
Your business may still thrive as is, but not focusing on making things easier and more pleasant for your customers could set you up for failure. I can think of numerous times where I’ve visited a retail store, a city park, a restaurant, even a neighborhood, and was turned off by some aspect of the service, infrastructure, or perception of quality. And I’m sure that I wasn’t the only one.
The Experience Design Process
Assessing the experience your customers have while interacting with your business can be done in many ways, but revolve around a few core methodologies. These steps are designed to help you create, test, refine, and implement new ideas quickly and thoughtfully:
- Gain Empathy for the people you serve
Empathy is defined as the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner. Merriam-Webster | Empathy
- Gaining Empathy is all about getting to know your customers on a personal level in order to understand how to create experiences that match their expectations. You may not receive explicit instructions from your customers about their specific wants and needs, so you need to find out for yourself.
- Research the competitive landscape and trends
Don’t try to recreate the wheel if you don’t need to. Understanding how your competitors are succeeding in their experience delivery and how others outside of your industry are perfecting the delivery of services to their customers will give you insight into where your best course of action lies.
- Define areas of focus.
After gathering a bunch of feedback from your customers and competitors, you will most likely have a lot of ideas on new things to try. At this point, it is good to take a step back and look for opportunities that can be tested and refined quickly (your low-hanging fruit). Leave the long-term/strategic ideas for later.
- Build and test with people
By now, you should have a few key areas to focus on. Is it a new menu design? A new store layout? Create a few prototypes and test with a small number of people. You can even invite some of the people you interviewed in Step 1! (they usually appreciate it and are willing to give some time to see what you’ve done with their feedback).
- Repeat the process
This part is pretty self-explanatory. Gather the feedback from testing and make refinements to your prototypes, then test again. Do this as many times as you need to get it right!
Showtime! Once you’ve done some testing and refinement, serve the new experience to the masses. This part should be done thoughtfully as you want to see an ROI for your time investment during this process. Make sure you have data from pre-design and plan to gather new data in this phase to understand the impact on your business.
Improving the experiences of the people you serve is the most important outcome you can ask for. Some businesses see exponential growth, some establish a deeper connection to their community, some even create an entirely new business model altogether. Figure out the blend between business strategy and the expectations of people, and you’ll win every time.
We ♥ Human-Centered Design
Do you have an established business? Starting fresh? There’s always time to start thinking about creating the best experience for your customers, and we can help. Our suite of services is designed to fit any project. Any size. Let’s work together.
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