Random Thoughts on Experience Design

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by: Idris Mootee

Experience design is an emerging discipline. This is a relatively new term and does not yet have a common definition. Here I am referring to "experience" to include "service" design and not simply usability. Service management existed for ages but mostly in the fields of operations management or hospitality management. They often involved non-designers and mostly owned by business managers or engineers. Today, with complex integration between human and technology interface, it is becoming less clear whether this should become a discipline on its own.

You wouldn’t design a new product without a product designer. Nor would you design a building without an architect. So why do organizations design new services that involves millions of dollars of investment, whether it is a new coffee chain or retail concepts, without involving experience architects or designers? Many of today’s experience activities are either designed by non-designers such as operation managers, retail consultants, software designers, and these disciplines end up having a significant impact on design. All without service design thinking?

Another question I have is what differentiates between a service and a tool. Say there’s a tool that can connect individuals to social networks whether through a mobile device or the Internet, at what point is the tool more than a tool but a service. And at what point a service becomes an experience.

Experience should include services that could typically relate to designs for product connectivity, interactions, or could add value to customer experience in areas such as leisure, retail, entertainment or banking. An experience designer’s job is to identify, investigate, design and present their service concepts, and will produce a written justification from both branding and economic perspectives.

Designers are advocating that ‘design thinking’ has something to offer for strategy beyond the design function. Design consultancies are pushing into strategy and it’s still a hard climb. Business schools are experimenting with ‘design thinking’. So what’s next? Will management consultancies such as McKinsey and Bain get into this space? Or will the interactive agencies leave behind their legacies of web design and expand their capabilities to include service design?

Design methods for experience innovation context are based on core design principles such as prototyping, user-centered focus and contextual observation. They include experience prototyping, evidencing, service blueprinting, scenario building, body-storming, paper-storming, customer journey mapping, video prototyping etc. But these skills alone will not do the job. It needs to be combined with business strategic thinking in order to move upstream. This is typically where B-School meets D-School. I think there is tremendous market opportunity for this kind of firm. We can expect to see this next wave of firms coming to the market and taking over clients from interactive and advertising agencies. So maybe in a couple years we’ll see how this affects the interactive and advertising industries. More tomorrow.


Original post: http://mootee.typepad.com/innovation_playground/2007/05/random_thoughts.html