Mindsets, Tools and Terminology of Experience Design

katie shelly
Jul 26, 2016 · 15 min read
A wall full of post-its is the signature stock photo for experience design work.

Experience Design & Related Fields: A map

Design research is of premiere importance to the discipline and therefore overarches everything within this map.


Going out and simply talking to people is much harder than it seems. It takes time, energy, focus, and willingness to break desk-centric office routines. Pictured here is Dalma Kadocsa working on MyTreat, a project we pitched at the Innovate Finance design jam earlier this year.

To solve wicked problems, we need to merge our minds.


This map, made by Hyper Island students (@davislevine on the L and @karakane_kk on the R) tracks the emotional journey of teens going through a mentorship program with a youth education nonprofit. The client kept this poster and hung it up in their office because they wanted to do a better job of keeping user needs at the forefront of their minds.

Getting to know just four or five individuals in-depth can yield more vivid, inspiring results than shallow information on large swaths of people.

Figure 1. This is an “infinite souvenir” containing a small amount of nuclear waste. The gadget is sold by nuclear energy companies to tourists visiting Cumbria, England. (Well no, not really, but that’s what makes it diegetic).

However, surveys aren’t the best form of research, as users often do things like fib, under/over critique or fail to remember (Kitson, 2016).

Figure 2. A co-creation session between a Hyper Island student team (@mayrakapteyn on the upper right) and high school students.

Experience designers know that they ought to design *with* and not *for* the populations they serve.


Figure 3. It’s become popular for restaurants to personalize an important service touchpoint — the bill — by putting the slip in a quirky, charming, or luxurious-feeling container.
This trampled “desire line” illustrates what pedestrians really wanted— different from what was built.

In Conclusion: The Future of Experience Design

Empathy experience: Try introducing yourself as an experience designer at this weekend’s dinner party and see how people react.

My best prediction is that the future of the field will continue to be somewhat of a patchwork.

Maybe these lists are the only things that connect us as practitioners.

Digital Experience Design

Thoughts, ideas and visions of Experience Design fanatics from @Hyperisland and industry friends

katie shelly

Written by

Service design, social impact & illustration

Digital Experience Design

Thoughts, ideas and visions of Experience Design fanatics from @Hyperisland and industry friends