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Brandwave-logo-6.png |Experience Design | july '16
20.07.2016

Experience design: An in-depth guide to what this mix of branding, UX, service design and more really means

 

Leading studios and designers discuss what experience design is and how it can let you provide more for your clients.

Nailing down precisely what experience design is and how it relates to design as a whole isn’t simple.

“The terminology is still very new and its definition is in flux,” explains Deloitte Digital's experience designer Jani Modig, who considers the field “the bridge between business and design, combining organisational strategies and different design disciplines from UX to service design”.

David Eveleigh-Evans, chief creative officer at international experience design firm Method, has a similar take, calling it “an approach to design that enables you to think about the connection between business and its customers by defining the relationship they have”.

He stresses the importance of brand, the creation of relevant, engaging, differentiated experiences, and gearing design to what the customer wants: “You identify needs and deliver them in the context of what the business can create. It’s holistic, in the sense of combining insight, strategy, design and technology.”

So what is it?

If this all sounds very abstract - and experience design often is - it's useful to cite some concrete examples of this all-encompassing approach to it. One often-quoted of how broad experience design can be is of the bank whose new website's online services were designed to replace many branch services, and so what branches were for - and therefore their design and branding - had to change to reflect business services replacing tellers.

Another example that always comes up on conversations about experience design is Apple. Seen as being at the forefront of experience design, the company's brand and approach to customer experiences defines what products it develops and how they work through to the minuitest detail of even purely digital apps.

For Rob Varney, experience design director at user experience design agency Foolproof, this boils down to “a design practice focussed on creating positive human outcomes”, addressing and considering the needs, feelings and desires of who will use the product. As with other design processes, “you still conceptualise, iterate and go through a process of review and reflection with the client, but the difference with experience design is customers are embedded in the process”.

He adds this needn’t always be via co-creation and direct involvement, but can sometimes happen through experience designers putting themselves in the minds of potential customers.

Is experience design just UX?

There are arguments, especially when experience design pertains to digital and interactive projects, that this is really just repainted user experience design. Clearleft founder Andy Budd argues experience design has typically been about physical, tangible experiences, but in digital it makes little sense to ‘remove’ the (term or actual) user.

He wonders if agencies are feeling ‘devaluation’ in the term ‘user experience design’, and are wanting to differentiate through something new.

(On asking Budd about wider connotations, on what you should call the design process for working across all kinds of media and touchpoints - from websites and social media to apps designing how retail stores and products work - to create a fully integrated, seamless experience, he wryly suggests: “How about design?”)

So is this just UX, the new UX, or something else entirely? Rob says this to some extent depends on your understanding and definition of that field; Foolproof appears to consider UX more ‘mechanical’ than Budd, and thus experience design is “the added ingredient of brand and added complexity of how we want people to feel when using something and moving through the process”.

By way of example, Jani says UX might focus on a single channel (hotel room booking via an app) but experience design orchestrates all channels and touchpoints (from seeing a hotel ad online to the checkout at reception). 
 

David provides another example: “It’s about different design skills coming together to solve an experience problem, rather than just a poster problem or a mobile app problem. It enables you to understand how the mobile app is related to the campaign and the business offering, the products and services, the touchpoints of the customer service, my attitude and the meaning that gets created by the brand.

"All those connections are relevant when you’re doing an instance of or degrees of the whole experience.” It’s about “seamless and consistent experiences during the entire customer journey,” adds Jani.

Customer satisfaction

A key reason, then, for taking an experience design approach is the increased interconnectedness of everything. “Customers don’t see differences between channels — mediums of interaction — and so jump from one to the other and expect the same seamless experience everywhere,” says Jani. “Experience design allows organisations to think where, when and how an organisation interacts with its customers.”

This can happen in the most mundane of places. Dan Harris, service design director at service design consultancy Fjord, says because people increasingly use social networks and web-connected services, their expectations of things like banks are now radically different, and so such institutions must change how they work internally and through interfaces (including websites and apps) to meet that challenge — “a huge area of design opportunity, because we can go out, understand what people value and see where their expectations truly lie, and help clients provide that experience and that service”.

David says this extends to countless products and services that have a disconnect with their brands: “They have a certain market image, but your expectation isn’t met when using the product. They have less quality and are poorly executed. Even Apple struggles with its huge ecosystem”.

For Method, a key experience design benefit for a business is to ‘fix’ this, and have everything driven from brand intention: “The promise of a brand and delivering that as a pure, clean way of creating the experience, through engagement and relationship to the customers — at every point of interaction.”

Know-all

Given the nature of experience design, it’s no surprise experts recommend you should be well-rounded to practice it. Jani echoes Eric Schmidt in calling experience designers “learning animals”, because “there’s a broad spectrum of skills to excel in”, and Rob talks about cross-training: “Our team has people with all kinds of skills, but the power comes when you bring them together. Everyone needs an understanding of what everyone else does, to collaborate effectively.”

At Fjord, Dan notes there’s an especially tight interplay between interaction design and visual design, to “create a system that helps people understand something, elegantly complete what they want to do, and have an experience they want to come back to and feast upon”.

He continues that there’s also a major “need to understand people, motivations and irrationalities,” which he reckons “takes a bit of a psychologist’s inquisitiveness.” Rob adds this involves “plugging into the thoughts and desires of the customer, observing their behaviour and the context within which they’re behaving, and thinking about how what you’re designing works with that and any commercial objectives”. You take all that and build solutions — he says you cannot be precious.

Dan agrees: “Think about craft. It’s about chipping away at things, trying things out, and being willing to throw it away and start again. Experience design is about having that sort of mindset.”

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Embracing change

But given the ‘holistic’ nature of experience design, can it be practiced on a brand by a creative agency, or must it be part of a bigger company change? And if you only have access to part of the pie, is it still valid to utilise experience design methodology?

From an agency standpoint, Jani says it’s easier for those already heavily invested in digital, who can “combine data, customer research insights, branding and client strategy with innovative solutions”. For individual freelancers, who might be a smallish cog in a much larger project, David argues you can still apply experience design principles: “You don’t have to have an end-to-end experience to apply this thinking. If you’re a web designer, your job is to translate the brand strategy into ways of working, types of attitudes, expressions and behaviours.”

By way of example, convenience would for a budget supermarket be an absolute principle that drives everything regarding user flow. The experience would be about speed and frictionless payment, and even when “faced with the limitations of a platform you cannot change,” you can “take these fundamental principles of experience design, to give you direction”.
 

Buy-in from clients can also be key. Dan says Fjord asks clients whether they can “deliver what customers expect without rewiring their operation around such delivery”, and if they can “deliver that operation without a culture of user-centred thinking”.

Transforming a company into an experience design company is, he says, “part and parcel of becoming a digital-first company,” something many aren’t built around. “So it goes deep, and you must think about clients having the capabilities from an operational point of view to deliver the experiences users now expect. And while you can design experiences for brands as short-term campaigns, they won’t necessarily be transformative and effective.”

Experience the future

Thinking ahead, everyone agrees this line of thinking will underpin most successful design projects, regardless of where they’re targeted. “Experience design might be nascent, but for me as a designer, it’s natural to bridge all aspects of design and understand why they’re connected,” says David. “With digital, you now have that two-way thinking of having to transform for the customer and give them what they want, when they want it.“

Agencies and individuals might, as noted earlier, differ in approach, what they call experience design, and precisely where they think it sits within the web of ‘design’, but Rob says that doesn’t matter: “We can intellectualise about the differences between experience design, user experience design and so on, but our clients come to us because they want to make the thing that they’re creating better for them and their customers. What’s important is what you do leads to a better experience.”

Source Digital Art Online

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20.07.2016

IN 1894, W.K. Kellogg made a discovery that would forever change what we eat in the morning. Seeking a more digestible breakfast alternative to baked bread for his brother’s hospital patients, the bespectacled former broom salesman accidentally left a pot of boiled wheat out overnight. The wheat became softened and when he rolled it out and baked it, each grain became a crispy flake.

Kellogg tried the technique on corn. Over the course of several years, he perfected the tasty flakes by experimenting with different formulas and testing them with his brother’s patients. He had invented — or designed — corn flakes.

But Kellogg didn’t stop there. He believed that the entire population — not just hospital patients with special diet restrictions — would enjoy the new food, and he carefully positioned and marketed it. He created a recognizable brand and set about continually improving packaging that kept the product fresh. The product went on to sell 175,000 cases in its first year, laying the foundation for the $22.5 billion company that still bears Kellogg’s name.

Kellogg’s genius came not just in his flair for food product invention, but also in his customer-centric approach, iterative prototyping process and careful consideration of the entire product experience — from the cereal itself to its packaging, marketing and distribution. Kellogg was more than a brilliant food scientist and marketer. He was also a brilliant designer.

One misconception still surprising to hear around Silicon Valley is that design is about making a product pretty — that it’s about designing the cereal box. Of course, colors, typography, layout and graphics — the classic elements of visual design — play an important role in the overall impact a digital product experience has on users. But pixel-perfect mockups and Dribble-friendly UI elements are just one component of a well-designed product.

IDEO is famous for popularizing Design Thinking – a repeatable, human-centered method for creative problem solving and innovation. Much like Kellogg did in re-inventing breakfast, this holistic approach to design takes inspiration from real people, works within market and technological constraints, and considers every product touch-point as an opportunity to surprise, delight and deliver benefits to users.

When done well, a human-centered approach fuels the creation of products that resonate more deeply with an audience — ultimately driving engagement and growth. As proof, one needs to look no further than the recent success of design-driven companies like Warby Parker, Fab, AirBnB and Pinterest. We’ve also recently seen digital stalwarts like Google, eBay and LinkedIn invest in the design of more cohesive and sophisticated user experiences.

Here are some of the ways of experimenting with human-centered design methods that product teams can practice every day to stay innovative.

Ask the right questions

If you’re struggling to generate ideas or stuck in a product rut, you’re probably asking the wrong questions. For example, at IDEO, a traditional telco shaped its strategy by asking questions like, “How can we raise our customer’s average monthly bill by 10 percent?” and, “How can we minimize our customer service call times?” Needless to say, business was stagnant at best.

When  the problem was re-framed in human-centered terms by asking questions like, “How can we help busy families to stay connected?” and “How can we reward our most loyal customers?” suddenly a formerly reticent client team was bursting with ideas and infused with a newfound sense of optimism.

Get out From Behind Your Desk

To stay innovative you need to stay inspired. Despite the plethora of information available behind the comfortable confines of your computer screen, you risk mental stagnation when you fall into predictable routines. Get out into the world and into the contexts that people are using your product – you’ll be surprised how quickly unexpected opportunities are revealed.

Make User Feedback Routine

When you’re working at breakneck speeds with tight deadlines, taking time out to gather feedback from users can feel like a luxury that’s easy to put off. But there’s no substitute for the nuance and depth of insight that can come from an in-person conversation. And with a couple of well-crafted Craigslist ads, a couple hundred dollars to pay your participants and an afternoon, you can quickly check key assumptions, uncover opportunities for improvement and gather inspiration for new ideas.

It doesn’t have to be formal or lengthy. In fact, rough prototypes often spark richer conversations than fully realized designs because participants are less likely to be concerned about offending the people in the room. Interactive prototypes allow for less directed feedback. Ask participants to verbalize their thought process as they use it. Try not to correct the participant or defend your prototype and answer their questions with questions. “What does this button do?” “Well, what would you like it to do?”

You can also use competitors’ products as a way to quickly understand what people value. For example, when working at IDEO on a project to design a low-cost video camera, the team had participants place a half dozen different existing cameras along various spectrums — most to least fun, most to least useful, most to least expensive. As they went through the exercise, they were made to articulate their rationale, providing actionable insights into how features and functionality could be prioritized.

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Think of Design as a Team Sport

George Kembel, an advisor at Stanford’s d.school, teaches the value of what he called an extroverted design process. By forcing yourself to articulate your ideas to someone else in words or sketches, you are inadvertently advancing your thinking. Meanwhile, your collaborators inevitably bring different frames of reference — and fresh thinking — to the problem, which will ultimately elevate the work. To quote the late Stanford design professor Matt Kahn, “You have to feed forward if you want feedback.”

To encourage this behavior, it’s important to cultivate a shared ownership of ideas. When a new idea arises, it’s the team’s idea, not an individual’s. The inverse scenario can lead to idea hoarding, which is like kryptonite to innovation. Often simple shifts in language can go a long way here — use inclusive language like “we” and “our” rather then “my” and “mine.” Instead of saying, “my idea,” try, “our idea” or “the team’s idea.” It’s not about claiming credit; no good idea comes from just one person. It’s about the quality of the idea and success of the team.
 

Build Minimum Viable Prototypes

The concept of the minimum viable product (MVP) has become near doctrine in the startup world, thanks in part to Eric Reis and his book The Lean Startup. Along with an iterative, agile development process, this build-to-learn philosophy meshes seamlessly with a design-driven, human-centered approach.

Before you even launch your MVP, think about what prototypes you can create cheaply to address your biggest product assumptions. Then test, iterate, test again and repeat. Keynote,for example, is great for rapid prototyping. You can quickly assemble alternative flows, easily create a range of screen designs and even introduce motion in to your prototype. There are some great digital tools available to gather quick feedback like usertesting.com, Verify, Crazy Egg and Get Satisfaction.

Like W.K. Kellogg did more than a century ago, involving your users early, prototyping to learn and applying a design-driven approach to every touch point along your product journey — not just your cereal box — can lead to breakthrough product experiences. Give it a try and you might just come up with some tasty results.

Source Wired

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OUR NEWS
Brandcell Conversations Edition 02
Following the success of the first edition of Brandcell Conversations in February, a second edition was held on the 17th of June 2016 around the theme of “Customer Experience: the new competitive edge.”

During this vibrant morning session, business professionals from several industries (HORECA, banking, insurance, retail etc) shared their experiences as customers while guest speakers pinpointed the main components of a great customer experience.

From videos to presentations, discussions and workshops, every part of the session enlightened the participants about the importance of offering today complete and seamless off line and on line experiences to customers using the experience design methodology as used by service designers around the world and by Brandcell consulting in Beirut and Dubai in partnership with Livework a global design firm, with the aim to help Companies and Brands  achieving customer experience excellence and gaining a unique competitive edge. 
25.07.2016

Brandcell Consulting has conducted a survey to investigate what consumers believe are the qualities of great service. The online questionnaire revealed the way services make Lebanese consumers feel and what matters to them most about the quality of service delivered to them. 

These are the 4 best and worst performing sectors as perceived by Lebanese customers.

 

The Best Sectors in Customer Service:

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1.Food & Restaurant

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2. Hotel

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3. Leisure (Cinema, Gyms, etc...)

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4. Retail

 

The Worst Sectors in Customer Service:

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1. Public Sector

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2. Telecommunication

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3. Banking

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4. Air Travel

The full study has already been published on the website, and can be read in its entirety here
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FEATURED CASE STUDY: GlobeMed
OVERVIEW

The leading TPA in Lebanon and the region, GlobeMed Lebanon asked Brandcell and Livework to create an understanding of the actors & factors that impact the in-hospital ER service delivery in view of improving the front-end servicing of ER admission and the patient experience. 

HOW DID WE HELP?

We conducted an intensive empathic research consisting of ER observation in 6 major hospitals of the city as well as in-depth interviews for most actors involved (patients, their families, hospitals, insurance companies and GlobeMed team and staff). Coupled with a workshop session with the GlobeMed team, we were able to deliver a deep understanding of the current ER experience across many factors 

Project Outcome:
-Update of the ER Guidelines (example: Culture test is now being approved because it is vital for the ER medical diagnosis & care)
-Dedicated Telephone & Fax Line & ER Team within the Medical care department at GlobeMed Leb. with 98.11% of Prior Approval achieved under 15 minutes
-New guidelines and process activated in certain Hospitals and in process for other

FEATURED BOOK
Designing Services with Innovative Methods
by Mikko Koivisto
This book presents the emerging and increasingly important field of service design. Design thinking and innovative methods work as tools for co-creating services and desirable value propositions. Service design is a tool for designing a more sustainable society. Interaction design offers us insight into creating more user-oriented services.


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1- Have an observing eye and a constant sense of wonder

2- Adopt an empathetic attitude towards people’s behavior and habits

3- Keep a questioning mind that goes beyond the obvious
 
4- Embrace a holistic approach to problem solving

5- Have a willingness to experiment and build

6- Put the user at the center of the opportunity challenge

7-  Accept the mess (design thinking is not neat)

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