In order to support the Experience-Driven Design process, companies may employ several tools, some of which we have gathered below. Our list is intended as a source of inspiration; it is unlikely to be complete. If you have any suggestions for additions, please let us know.
Develop open context vision
When developing a context for the creative process, it may be important to create as much design freedom as possible, and thereby limit the number of actual constraints to a minimum. Defining the context implies determining the domain for which the design is made. The design space is determined, the problem is defined, and possibly a program of demands is developed. The context may include the social and cultural context, a political context, but may also imply a physical context. In addition, because the end result will be introduced in the future, we need to define the time period for which we are creating: It can make a large difference whether our results will be introduced in two or five years. Also, we need to be aware of the constraints that will limit our final solution.
Develop experience vision statement
The company develops a vision on what type of experience they would like to evoke among their future customers. This goal can be formulated in terms of an intended experiential user effect or ‘target experience’. The statement requires the company to formulate what he or she would like to give to the future customers. Therefore, it is also a statement on what they would like to contribute to the future world. It is important for the statement to carry authenticity: Ideally, the statement should address a fundamental customer need.
Pay attention to multiple layers in the user experience
Experiencing a design may involve different layers: materiality, function, interaction, sensory perception, aesthetics, meaning, emotional responses, and so on. If the different layers are considered during the creative process, this will enhance depth and richness during the design process. In order for a design to trigger a certain experience, the customer will need to interact with it in a particular way, and the product needs qualities that support this interaction. Therefore, it may be helpful to try to translate the characteristics of the target experience into a set of interaction qualities, which on their turn can be translated in a set of desirable product qualities. The interaction qualities should support the authentic character of the target experience. The interaction may involve actions with physical objects, it may involve manipulations of virtual objects, or it may involve cognitive processes like anticipating certain effects or imagining a specific event. Oftentimes analogies or metaphors are used to summarize the character of the interaction (e.g., like a river, a sunny day in the park, lying in a hammock). Subsequently, you may want to determine the character of the end result that is most like to evoke the aimed for interaction qualities and customer experience. What does the design express? How would you describe its personality?
Include the time dimension of user experience
A user experience typically evolves over time, as the user interaction progresses. Telling stories helps to connect ideas and to create user scenarios. Storytelling may begin early in the life of a project and may be woven into every aspect of the innovation effort. Writers may be involved from the start of the design process to help move the story along in real time. A scenario may grow and develop into a description of a consumer journey, including all the events a consumer experiences while engaging with a brand, product, or service. The story could also be an open-ended narrative that engages people and stimulates them to carry it forward and fill in their own conclusions.
Involve multiple design disciplines
To bring offerings to life, multiple design disciplines may work together, to provide the optimum effect. You can include product design (engineering, styling, packaging design), communications design (graphic design, advertising, digital media, corporate identity, signage), interaction design (physical interactions with buttons, controls, and levers, interface design), environment design of outlets (architecture, interior design, exhibition design), service design (guarantee forms, personal interactions, complaint forms, call center procedures), and so on (Roscam Abbing).
Consumers interact with companies in many different ways. They may receive corporate information through publicity in the media, they see brand advertisements on TV or in magazines, they interact with personnel during the buying process or at the customer service desk, they unwrap packaged goods, they sample products in stores, and so on. Ideally, the different design elements that consumers experience should work together like the instruments in an orchestra to create the overall experience. Just like the instruments in the orchestra each have a different character, the design elements do not need to be similar in order to work together in creating a great and engaging experience (Roscam Abbing). Touch point orchestration makes sure that all different elements work together and in the right order, in order to create the desired user experience.
Using empathy tools helps the design team to stay connected to the targeted user experience. Besides the vision statement, the team may create a mood board communicating the emotional impact of the targeted en result. Alternatively, a persona may be created, which provides a vivid representation of a fictitious end user, indicated with a realistic name, whose life is described and made explicit with a number snapshots.
Formalize brainstorming routines
Brainstorming sessions are valuable in the creative process, not only for the ideas that pop up during the session, but also for the concepts and solutions that occur to people later, at home, due to the seeds planted in their minds. Some companies have formalized the routine procedure used during brainstorming to optimize the output of these sessions. For instance, IDEO uses the following rules: Defer judgment, build on the ideas of others, hold one conversation at a time, stay focused on the topic, and encourage wild ideas (Brown, 2009).
Quick and dirty prototyping
Encourage quick, cheap, and dirty prototyping as part of the creative process and not just as a way of validating finished ideas. Use visual and physical tools, not just abstract words, to generate ideas. By creating tangible, physical objects, you make use of different faculties and different types of knowledge compared to when you are only talking and thinking. In addition, you can act out situations to explore how the prototypes work and what is needed to improve them.
Create and present conceptual prototypes
Conceptual prototypes, such as concept cars presented at car fairs, materialize a company’s vision for the future. They make ideas physical and tangible, and their creation helps in investigating the feasibility of ideas. They may be an important tool inside the company to streamline the flow of creative ideas and to show the directions in which the company is heading. In addition, by presenting the new product at an exhibition or making a book for researchers, colleagues will get to know about the product, they will talk about it to others and may describe it in magazines for the general public. Ideally, the new product should create a buzz. Hence, books, exhibitions, cultural events, concept presentations at fairs, journal articles, websites, and design competitions all serve to generate free publicity on the new product.
Co-create with end users
End users may be involved actively in the design of the new brand, product, associated services (e.g., websites, interactions with sales staff, social networks), and retail experiences. For instance, designers may develop tools that enable consumers to create their own products. Researchers can study consumers while they are using such tools. Also, designers can create experiences, by involving consumers actively in the store (e.g. cooking in a supermarket). Involving consumers in creating and using products may increase the chance of success in the market.
Formalize choice among ideas
In order to make the right choices when you evaluate ideas, develop a good procedure and involve the right people. Use flexible tools to organize ideas. Criteria that are often used to evaluate ideas include the expected functionality of the end product and people’s expected motivations for buying the product. Furthermore, the available production facilities and the expected costs are likely to affect decision making. Another criterion may be the product’s potential for a long life cycle: does it satisfy deeper needs? Is it clearly linked with the brand identity? Furthermore, ideas that create a buzz should be favored. Measurement of impact helps to make the business case and ensures that resources are appropriately allocated. If each team member chooses the three best ideas by putting a mark on them, you can select the ideas with the largest number of votes.