I have set myself the task of writing a book within the next six months. It is something that I had thought I wanted to do six months ago, but couldn’t do it. I started with one idea then flip-flopped around a couple of other ideas and then gave up. Eventually though, I’ve managed to get back into the process and I want to finish it this time. As part of the journey I thought I would post my first draft of my Book Pitch, so you can see how much it changes, if at all, over time. I had thought of writing a book for creative business owners, about how to make money from what you love, but I felt I lacked the authority for that. So I ended up here with the working title Engaging Experiences, which is about design, the design of everything. I’m fairly clear on what I’m going to write, but I’m having this checked by a publisher before I go off and create a monster I cannot tame. Once upon a time…
An everyday guide to experience design
or…A guide to experience design for people who have the power to change things.
The world around us is made up of lots of unique experiences. Every moment, every action, every time we shop, or go to the dentist, every time we use a washing machine or an ATM. Each interaction is part of our human experience, and experience design is about improving those moments.
User experience design can be as simple as a smile or a greeting in a store, or a full blown interactive theatrical cinematic experience. You do not need a degree to understand user experience design. You just need to be good at seeing through the eyes of a human being, which I’m guessing you have first hand experience of. Experience design is actually a collection of disciplines like product design, architecture, cognitive psychology, design thinking, storytelling, UX (user experience) design for web or mobile, and omnichannel marketing. All of them crossing the boundaries of their individual field, with the sole purpose of improving the user experience.
I first came across this way of thinking 15 years ago. In my early career, after studying graphic design, I worked in Pre-Print for a few years before I took a job in a Design Week Top Ten agency. I was fortunate enough to work on some of the UK’s leading brands in the early 2000s. These included Lego, Lowe Alpine, Vodafone and confectionery brands like Kit Kat and Polo. Working in a team of top creatives, I began to understand that design was more than graphic design. I worked in graphics, 3D modelling, animation, video, sound, multimedia, User Interface design, exhibition design, visitor attraction and museum interactive design. In 2003 I started a design business that went on to produce architectural graphics for commercial interiors, predominantly in the healthcare environment. In the last several years we have installed graphics in hospitals all over the UK, and in that time I have seen what a transformation our design clients have made for patients, visitors and staff alike.
Design should be about engaging with the user, and designing a positive user experience is paramount.
We are bombarded by millions of messages a day, each one vying for our attention. But how do we make our business or organisation standout? Small businesses often fail to see the link between their product, their story and the well-being of their customers and how that affects their sales. Few businesses start out to create moments that have a positive impact on a user – it usually starts with a skill or a need for an income. Organisations may have a clearer meaning and purpose, but often fail to make the impact they need, because they do not use the tools commerce does.
This book was written to help business owners, designers, museum curators, hotel managers and healthcare professionals to create more engaging experiences for their users. Experiences that guide people without leaving them frustrated. Creating events in the retail environment that make people happy. Producing signals that show value or quality. And moments that foster confidence, care or trust in a business. Designing with people in mind, rather than pounds and pennies, will help you to create a significant business or project that will stand out in our modern world.
The book was intended to be easy to understand. It is a broad-brush look across different areas of Experience Design that can be combined and applied in most businesses or organisations. There is something here for everyone looking to make things better in their business or world around them.
In the book I look at the principles of Experience Design, the wider perspective of what it means and why it is necessary today. How psychology plays it’s part and how we are neurologically wired to respond in certain ways. Understanding the touch points we have before making a decision, and how omnichannel journeys make those decisions happen much more easily. I show you the tools used for making effective experiences, like branding, product design, information design, physical spaces, digital design, technology and storytelling. And how unifying them can bring deeper connections to customers, staff and users.
As a designer and entrepreneur I see design and business as crucial partners. I lay out how to create engaging experiences in retail, online and in a digital world of social media. What is freemium and how can you use it to your advantage. Language can make a difference in sales, face-to-face, or in writing. And how little moments can be designed to help make a positive overall impression. Once you have built a successful business, how do you scale that unique experience for a growing customer base and new staff. Understanding making a difference, as a business owner, starts with your staff not with the customer. Staff are the custodians of the moments you are trying to create for your customers and users. Those who have the responsibility of creating brand experiences should look beyond the sale of a product, and discover things from different viewpoints, for children, adults, able bodied or disabled.
Hospitals may not need to address a marketing or buying experience. However they can still look at improving the patient journey from a consumer point of view, rather than a process point of view. In a hospital, surgery or dental clinic the practitioner may deliver the care, but the whole system from receptionist through to the colour of carpets can have a positive impact on that care. And studies show there are cost effective ways to help healthcare professionals improve patient outcome. We can make the patient journey better by entertaining and distracting patients from their treatment and help lift their mood.
This book is a thought provoking call to action for those who are change-makers, to look deeper into how they can create more engaging experiences for all.