Design Strategy with the Six Universal Experiences

Using the six universal experiences framework to spot design opportunities in the company.

How does it feel to be a pioneering designer at a fast-growing startup? My experience of joining C3 IoT, a promising startup where we solve challenging IoT problems, has been both exciting and daunting.

On one hand, I’m excited about potentially influencing the entire product experience. On the other hand, our design team is still small. How can we find the right problem to focus on? How do we approach problems in a way that scales?

Previously at IBM Watson, I learned how to organize complex enterprise offerings with design thinking practices. After Watson, I jumped to an 11-person startup, Styra, where I sat next to the sales team, the marketing team, the product team, and the customer support team together in one room. There, I learned how to drive product iterations by collaborating with different functions in the company.

C3 IoT is in the middle of IBM and Styra. It has fairly complex product offerings and needs to move fast. As a small design team, how can we find ways to influence the whole product offering experience and put a process in place to drive fast product iterations?

One approach I am using is the six universal experience framework to map our product offerings and team functions.

What are the Six Universal Experiences?

The six universal experiences cover all the stages of the user relationship to products from beginning to end. The following graph shows each stage (Discover, try and buy; Get started; Everyday use; Manage and upgrade; Leverage and extend; and Support).

six universal experience

How the Six Universal Experiences Framework can aid Design Strategy?

In the following graph, I divided the team functions and products and mapped it to the six experiences.

Map of the team functions and products to the six experiences (examples are fake for illustration purposes)

From this graph, we can begin to answer:

What’s the right problem to focus? For example, if the company is spending a lot of human resources on the discover, try and buy stage, it could mean the company could improve the speed to demonstrate value to potential customers, which could be an area where design can help.

How can we put a process to drive fast product iterations? Another example could be that if you are working on a product supporting users’ everyday tasks, customer support could be a good team to talk with to understand the experience and work together to make the future feedback loop tighter and more frequent.


The six universal experience exercise has really helped me understand where design can help the company. As I continue to make progress at C3 IoT, I’m happy to share more of our stories and successes.