2 Lessons on User Engagement from a Day at the Spa

You may not know this but before I joined the startup & technology scene, I was an architect.

Architects have a special way of looking at the world by examining human interactions in the structural and none-structural environment. I still look at the world that way and that leads me to the story I wanted to share with you today.

S0 — last week was my birthday.

We went out for a spa day — which was supposed to be a very relaxing experience. It wasn’t. Throughout the day there were always people around us. You may ask yourself how this has anything to do with my architectural background, or think I might be a bit anti-social (I’m not).

You see, a spa - like any other space, is designed to take people (users) through a specific kind of experience. One that is a very intimate and that suppose to help people relax. It is also the kind of space that is usually experienced in pairs or small groups.

In any case, you rarely want to engage with others while you’re waiting for a message, drinking wine with your loved one in the hot-tub or dipping your legs in the pool. You want to avoid the awkward interactions with strangers who try to enjoy their private little getaway just as much as you do.

There are 2 ways for the spa designer and management could have solved this:

  • Through design: unfolding the user journey throughout the spa facilities and creating multi-function areas in which each group of users enjoys the majority of facilities.
  • Through planning: for public areas - like restaurant or pool, the spa management should have created a more sophisticated schedule that will allow different groups of people to experience the public facilities at different times.

And there’s a lesson to be learned for when designing digital products, too. In fact, I don’t think there’s much difference (aside from the tools we use) between the way we design the physical world to the digital one.

In both cases, you have to think of the way people interact with your product AND with each other WHEN they use your product.

Can you think of a user engagement with an offline product or service that could have been improved by the way we build engagement for online products? Let me know in the comments below!


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