Why experience design is important


Seth Godin makes an excellent point in his post, that marketeers all too frequently make the mistake in thinking to grow their business they need to move from selling nuts to squirrels to convincing dolphins nuts are delicious.

Worldview changes three things: attention, bias and vernacular. Attention, because we choose to pay attention to those things that we’ve decided matter. Bias, because our worldview alters the way we filter and interpret what we hear. And vernacular, because words and images resonate with people differently based on their worldview.

It’s extremely expensive, time consuming and difficult to change someone’s worldview. The guys at Opus One shouldn’t spend a lot of time marketing expensive wine to fraternities because it’s not efficient. Sell nuts to squirrels, don’t try to persuade dolphins that nuts are delicious.

And this is why experience design is so very important. First, because to develop a strong product or service experience you need to understand about the attention, bias and vernacular that will determine the worldview of your customers, and their expectation of how the experience will be. To do this you cannot sit in a lab, you need to be out there with customers getting this under your skin. By understanding their world-views or even how similar or different the world-views are among your customers you can better develop solutions that address needs than if you just tried to guess your way to it. So observation is one, and no harm in that. The other really interesting exercise is co-creating solutions with your customers. You will learn more about what is important to people, their needs and behaviours than if you just put a solution in front of them and asked if they like it. Co-creation is a way of getting to understanding what drives people, their attention, bias and vernacular that otherwise would be hard to uncover.

What’s the point of coming up with a great experience? Very simply that people are the ultimate marketing channel, and experiences that work are delightful and make us to come back. Better still, we come back with our friends. Incidentally, if you deliver an experience well enough, this positive momentum may even convince some dolphins that nuts aren’t so bad after all. Facebook is a case in point, that Godin mentions in his post too. Most of us now on Facebook thought of it as a waste of time, but over time as we found more and more of our friends on it, we took the leap too.

If you are one of the few doing a great experience you will outlast your competition without a sweat. If more and more people are getting their experiences right, you need to truly innovate to stay ahead of the game. In either case marketing will not solve the problem, it will simply create awareness. In the case of a bad experience marketing may make more people try it, but they will never come back and worse still: they may tell their friends not to try it either. If your experience is great, marketing will spread awareness but this in conjunction with the positive word of mouth will take awareness far further than marketing could on its own, it will make the growth sustainable. To me marketing is an amplifier, so be careful what you amplify. And yes, experience design and innovation is critical and a way to market what you do in the best way possible, by creating happy users.

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