As User Experience Design matures from a creative endeavor into an integrated business process, it is becoming apparent that the traditional “umbrella” definition might not adequately describe the evolution of UX as a discipline. User Experience Design has traditionally been described as encompassing many recognized practices, including but not limited to: Information Architecture, Interactive Design, Human Factors, and Visual Design. As important to designing good experiences that the aforementioned roles are, it is becoming apparent that to truly craft an ideal end-user Consumer Product Experience, one must incorporate a higher level of problem solving while utilizing emerging and non-traditional skill-sets.
Successfully thinking outside of one’s comfort zone is the first step to truly understanding what might be gratifying to the end-user from a motivational sense. The concept of Emotional Design is brilliantly summed up in a single quote from Jeroen van Erp, Co-Founder & Creative Director of Fabrique in the Netherlands, “It all has to do with a creative process for which the intended experience for the consumer has been taken as a starting point. A different perspective creates different solutions.” These days in an ever evolving and contextually changing product landscape, it has become imperative to evoke specific emotions while designing product experiences. Invoking targeted emotional responses during the design phase can ultimately lead to Consumer adoption of product innovations both seamlessly and at an accelerated rate, thus the payoff of implementing Emotional Design as the first pillar of true Experience Design.
Once one has achieved emotional enlightenment, so to speak, the next logical piece of the puzzle is understanding and affecting behavioral response. Traditional UX relies heavily on the creation of Personas to facilitate the distillation of common motivations across targeted end-users and other decision makers. One of the key factors in Persona creation is the documentation of the behaviors that ultimately reveal the motivations. It is this kind of thinking that can provide tremendous psychological insight early in the design process. And subsequently, this psychological insight can be used to insert triggers (single design elements that change motivation) into the design of the product. In alignment with Big Studio’s methodology of conceptual strategy and sketching, the ability to identify and affect said triggers early in the product lifecycle provides tremendous value when applied in an iterative manner. Persuasive Design is the most beneficial when affecting whether people do specific tasks by design… Without placing too much importance on how said tasks are accomplished.
Now comes the time to ground these methodologies in a solid foundation. This must be prefaced with a query: What are the grounding elements of designing experiences that intrinsically link somewhat nebulous psychological tenants? The answer lies in Service Design… Service Design methodologies are pure facilitation. These methodologies provide ease of facilitation between the business and the customer, the design and the end-user and ultimately, the product and the Consumer. Many traditional User Experience tools such as ethnographic research play an enormous role in designing according to the needs of the Consumer in Service Design methodology… Thus ultimately, Service Design forms the backbone of a new Experience Design Trinity, bringing the customer experience back to motivations grounded in real-world experiences. Creating and documenting this “blueprint” of the service is again inline with the Big Studio process of conceptual sketching as early as possible in the product lifecycle.
Ultimately a reorganization of thought needs to occur… What is truly the most important in the “umbrella” hierarchy? Definitely not the ability to execute traditionally accepted User Experience sub-disciplines in a singular manner… In today’s world of ever-evolving platforms and advancing methodologies, one must consider this simple analogy: We are all in agreement that Information Architecture is important… A similar importance can be placed upon rudimentary Algebra, now taught in elementary school. IA is a skill that HAS to be employed, as it is a building block. We must strive and elevate, raising the notion of Experience Design (NOT just User Experience) to encompass a deeper level of human understanding that transcends simple design elements on Web 2.0 sites into truly cross-platform, multi-device delivery and truly proactive implementation of all we have learned as a cumulative design collective. And the term ‘Cumulative Design Collective” might just be the best description possible of where we need to be…