Experience Design will be key
“Experience Design will be key” says the Hyper Island industry survey,
yet there seems to be confusion about Experience Design and Experience; how these terms are used and what they stand for.
The term experience is often tantamount for the interaction between a user and a digital interface therefore Experience Design gets connoted with the discipline of designing for that exact purpose.
The increased use of experience as a terminology is the second evolutionary step hitting the design discipline after the big shift that marked the last two decades towards human-centered design. Nevertheless experience in its purest form is defined by generally covering “everything personally encountered, undergone, or lived through“ (Roto et al. 2011, p. 6). Therefore, depreciating Experience Design to the sole act of designing the interaction of a user with a interface is deceptive.
Experience Design is most similar to the well know discipline of Service Design, yet distinguishing from it under a magnifier and in its execution, but let’s take it step by step.
User Experience, as a wide spread discipline in most companies, is focusing on the design of a single customer touchpoint. This includes both online and offline touchpoints, yet it’s more commonly addressing digital touchpoints, also because the term user is connoted with digital interfaces.
The discipline of Customer Experience is extending the previous understanding by looking at the entire customer journey and designing the full array of touchpoints for a consistent experience across all channels.
Finally, Service Design is a further extension and has found the most industry acceptance, since a wide range of companies are shifting their focus from manufacturing products to delivering services. Also, a wide range of young companies have services as their sole offering.
As a discipline Service Design is not only holistically designing all touchpoints across the customer journey but also considering the process of delivering this service from the organization perspective. Thereby the focus of Service Design is split up between delivering a good consumer experience and improving the backstage processes. Furthermore, designing a new service mainly aims at creating new business opportunities.
So, what is the difference between service design and experience design?
For that, we have to go back to the purest definition of experience. In human psychology experience gets equated with consciousness, thus is limitless, except for the moment where a consumer is not conscious. In other words, whenever the user is not asleep and therefore conscious, he is experiencing.
What becomes clear is that Experience Design is neither limited to the interaction of a user with an interface, nor to the single service delivered by a company. Rather Experience Design becomes the task of designing for a conscious consumer and therefore extending the mind-set from a consumer-product interaction and focusing on a consumer-company interaction model considering everything the company says and does as an entity, but also its employees and stakeholders as key influential factors for the final consumer experience.
The key of Experience Design for a company is authenticity. While the focus for Service Design lies in control, the control of every phase of a service offering, down to the greeting line by the sales staff.
While this might sound very theoretical, there are real life example of the successful adherence of this mind-set. Patagonia shifted from a pure costumer-product interaction focus to a much more holistic customer-company focus. Similarly, Zappos is applying Experience Design, by defining some corner stones leaving the employees with the freedom to act in the company’s best interest.
As Service Design is about shaping a service down to the meticulous details of it, it can best be described as a pixel graphic. Experience Design however is addressing a conscious customer that will experience much more then just the service itself. For example, the company values, the latest news about the company’s production facility or the behavior of the store staff when they feel unobserved. Thus Experience Design can best be represented by a vector graphic, which consists of setting up a few rules and letting the experience flow.
Experience Design starts by creating shared values and understandings of what the company stands for. In a second instance you should have faith in the parties involved in delivering a service to also deliver authentically in the companies best interest.
Roto, Virpi; Law, Effe; Vermeeren, Arnolde; Hoonholut, Jettie (2011) “User Experience White Paper: Bringing Clarity to the Concept of User Experience” Results from Dagstuhl Seminar on Demarcating User Experience
Hyper Island Industry Survey 2014: Link