What is Experience Architecture?

Looking beyond singular states, accounting for the blind spots between our static wires and designs. Creating cohesive, multi-screen experiences with responsible and evolved experience architecture.

Not long ago the term “Experience Design” didn’t exist; as the litany of screens and mediums have grown, the demands on designers have grown with it.

Today many creatives are acquiring skill sets that go beyond traditional design, focusing on prototyping, developing, wireframing, motion design as well as visual design, typography and branding.

While these new, multi-disciplined, better-rounded designers are a healthy iteration for the design industry, they still tend to focus on singular states — wireframes and static comps. Designing each view and wireframe with little thought to what happens between them or to bringing a cohesive experience to the system as a whole.

Early prototyping of Skippy the Stone Skipping Robot my team and I built at 11inc.

Prototyping has begun to make significant strides towards remedying this problem, integrating the I.O.T. and new digital frontiers, however I think it’s just the beginning. I believe that the role for designers needs to evolve further, that the concepts found in development, architecture and motion design are now required skills for crafting high-quality experiences for mobile, desktop, wearable devices and beyond. It’s not just about using new and fantastical tools, but changing our mindset about how we approach the entire role of experience design.

I foresee design/experience leadership evolving towards Experience Architecture [EA] — where the responsibility of XD leadership is to help steward a cohesive experience across nearly every touchpoint a consumer has with a product or platform. Driving a mindset that individual views and wireframes are essentially keyframes of an experience and we constantly work towards defining the experience sequences between those keyframes. An EA’s focus should be on creating a cohesive experience across all screens through the elimination of sudden change, experience centered design driven by thoughtful research and an ecosystem wide design system.

Following are high-level principles, in no particular order, I use to define what Experience Architecture is to me, as well as insights I’ve found along the way to defining it.

The first installment in our series is Principle One: Frame it Up Tightly.