Book Image

Exploring Experience Design

By : Ezra Schwartz
Book Image

Exploring Experience Design

By: Ezra Schwartz

Overview of this book

We live in an experience economy in which interaction with products is valued more than owning them. Products are expected to engage and delight in order to form the emotional bonds that forge long-term customer loyalty: Products need to anticipate our needs and perform tasks for us: refrigerators order food, homes monitor energy, and cars drive autonomously; they track our vitals, sleep, location, finances, interactions, and content use; recognize our biometric signatures, chat with us, understand and motivate us. Beautiful and easy to use, products have to be fully customizable to match our personal preferences. Accomplishing these feats is easier said than done, but a solution has emerged in the form of Experience design (XD), the unifying approach to fusing business, technology and design around a user-centered philosophy. This book explores key dimensions of XD: Close collaboration among interdisciplinary teams, rapid iteration and ongoing user validation. We cover the processes, methodologies, tools, techniques and best-practices practitioners use throughout the entire product development life-cycle, as ideas are transformed to into positive experiences which lead to perpetual customer engagement and brand loyalty.
Table of Contents (20 chapters)
Title Page
About the Author
About the Reviewers
Customer Feedback

Evolution of Design

There are many examples of animals that build amazingly intricate structures--honeybees, birds, and termites come to mind. We don not know whether the animals have an aesthetic appreciation of their designs, but repeating patterns suggest that they follow some internal instinct. We also do not know why humans create art or attempt to infuse products with aesthetic value, but there is ample evidence dating back to prehistoric times to suggest that design is an innate human trait.

Archeological remains and historical documents capture an essential aspect of design patterns: They are the outcome of continuous cycles of refinement, evolution, decay, and revival. The diagram above illustrates the journey of the book from clay tablets used thousands of years ago by the ancient Egyptians to the Kindle, an electronic tablet that echoes the stone version. Of course, we now have even more ways to experience books, including audio books, books in Braille, and interactive digital books.

Despite the significant evolutionary and revolutionary changes in the book-reading experience, three fundamental dimensions have been preserved during thousands of years of change:

  • Sensory dimension: The book experienced through the physical features that address the senses--format, size, material, weight, tactile quality, typography, and visual imagery. Audio books are experienced through the sound of the narration, and Braille books, by touch.
  • Temporal dimension: The book experienced through the duration of engagement (reading, listening, looking at pictures) and the impact of the ongoing interaction with the book on cognitions, emotions, moods, and mental perceptions.
  • Content dimension: The book experienced through the information it contains (fiction, non fiction, poetry, and so on)--understanding, contextualizing and responding to the content.

The three dimensions of experience are not limited to books. For any product, the intersection of the physical, temporal and content dimensions creates a unique experience signature that binds a particular person to a particular product. When a single product supports multiple experience signatures, the products is transformed from a mass-produced item into an object of personal significance. This does not happen to every person with every product, but experience designers strive to achieve this type of emotional attachment as frequently as possible.

Experience design seeks to transform mundane ingredients, such as business requirements, budgets, release schedules, and deadlines, into experiences that create an enduring emotional attachment to a product. To make this possible, the processes, methodologies, tools, and techniques of experience design draw from a wide variety of disciplines.

There are dozens of specialized design disciplines today. Each one has come into being in response to emerging needs. Some disciplines, like architecture and tool making, go back thousands of years, while others, like sound or game design, are very recent. The boundaries between these disciplines are not as clearly defined as their title suggest. Automotive design, for example, includes the design of both exterior and interior of the vehicle.

The interior include seats, which are furniture, and sophisticated dashboards, which are essentially computers.

The division of various disciplines into sub-specialties reflected a need for subject-matter expertise and specialized design approaches to address design challenges and opportunities in highly specific situations. The automotive dashboard design is a good example. Experience design, on the other hand, emerged in response to the converging needs of multiple product categories. The fusion of physical, digital, mobile, and virtual experiences within a single product, requires close multi-disciplinary collaboration. Since many of the specialized design categories share similar approaches to design methods, it is possible to envision them folded into a single unified discipline of experience design. These changes in disciplinary boundaries reflect a number of fast moving trends in the global and social economy.

  • Computing: Significant advances in computing performance at much reduced costs to companies and consumers; including hardware, software, data centers, and so on.
  • Manufacturing: Advanced materials, miniaturization at the atomic level, 3D printing, and other innovations in manufacturing technology.
  • Global shift to mobile computing: Aided by inexpensive smart devices, affordable hi-speed broadband and wireless networks, and high-precision global GPS coverage.
  • The logistics revolution: The invention of the shipping container, fleets of mega container ships, and the complex operations that make it possible to scale manufacturing capacity to vendors all over the world, maintain low inventories with on-demand assembly, and move massive amounts of products around the world fast and reliably.
  • The democratizations of the means of production: The creation and distribution of products and content is now within reach of individuals and companies regardless of size. Social networks and the emergence of a new type of user, who is activity engaged on a global level by creating and publishing content, from blogs to feature films.
  • The Internet of Things: Billions of embedded chips in a wide verity of products and objects collect and transmit continuous streams of data. This data, aggregated and processed in real-time, reveals patterns that help develop insights about people and societies on scales never imagined before.
  • Artificial intelligence: AI endows systems and devices with reliable cognitive capabilities, such as correct interpretation of human communication and decision-making, leading to new types of sensory experiences with sensory and conversational interfaces; complementing, and potentially phasing-out the need for manual input 

These trends open up tremendous opportunities for individuals and companies, who can tap into the vast and relatively inexpensive design and development space, and dream up product experiences that respond to demand for engaging productivity, content, and entertainment. Experience design is no longer regarded as a non-essential "creative" sub-activity that is relegated to specialists.