on January 10, 2017 Experience Design

Design Better Experiences, not Products

5 simple tips to guide a new way of working

Consumers are opening their wallets to spend more than ever before. But, what they choose to buy is shifting dramatically. Instead of buying a new product or service, they’re now spending it on new experiences. 

Why now?

Over the past decade, an abundance of psychology research has shown that “experiences bring people more happiness than possessions.” Cornell psychology professor Thomas Gilovich has been trying to figure out exactly how and why experiential purchases are so much better than material purchases. It’s a pretty interesting read.

Change ‘what’ you create

To thrive in today’s “experience economy,” every touchpoint needs to be carefully considered and designed throughout the entire customer journey. Your product is no longer the central hero in the story. It, along with your other touchpoints, are props that impact what your consumer’s doing, thinking and feeling. An Experience Map is a great way to rally your team around ideas and insights in the context of how your consumer interacts with your product or service. To learn more about Experience Maps, Niall O’Connor, from CX Partners, does a great job providing an overview.

Lets’s dig into the 5 ways that help your team design better experiences, not products:

1. Give your consumers a starring role in research

To design a great experience, you need to have a clear idea of what your consumers currently experience. In addition to more traditional research methods like ethnography, shadowing and interviewing, try using a new method — the mobile Mission.

Missions function like homework assignments for consumers to complete on their phones. Maybe you want to see what’s inside their closets, what types of snacks they’re eating and why, or even hearing their thoughts on a trip to a favorite retail store. Because Missions are self directed, consumers end up sharing authentic photos, videos and stories that they might not disclose in face-to-face interactions.

Missions help scale your research efforts across time, geography and space. In a few days time, you could have 30 consumers collecting a few hundred observations across their entire journey. Compare that with doing 30 in-home visits to consumers across the country. It’s pretty compelling.

2. Synthesizing research as a team, not solo

After you’ve completed research (see Missions above), schedule a full day to review the content with your team. It’s important to get everyone in the same room (digitally or physically), and not assign this activity to one person. Designate a facilitator to guide the team through a synthesis process — review content, create tags, organize observations into themes and share learnings.

Content should be reviewed through many different lenses. For example, use activities like mapping research assets on a consumer journey map or assign individuals to “own” a stakeholder to play out their unique perspectives. Either way, make sure this is a team activity, where everyone is actively involved in reviewing content, aligning to insights and can articulate the opportunities.

3. Prioritize feelings to find biggest opportunity areas

While sythesizing your research assets, identify where you can improve the customer journey. Because humans are more likely to change behavior based on their feelings, start there. Use happy, sad, and other emoticons to highlight these areas. While it’s normal to generate quick ideas against sad faces (or pain points), make sure you visually highlight what areas along the journey that are most important to your experience. This helps rally the team around opportunity spaces to guide ideation.

4. Take your team Coolhunting for new ideas

Coolhunting is one of my favorite activities to inspire new ideas. Rather than creating ideas from scratch, challenge your team to collect emerging companies or brands that provide an amazing consumer experience (i.e. Uber, Airbnb, Blue Apron). Once you’ve collected about 10 examples, deconstruct these into smaller ideas (or features) on sticky notes. For example, Uber‘s stickies might include: mobile only ordering, realtime driver tracking, frictionless payment, two-way ratings system and luxury branding for mainstream audiences. As a team, discuss why this idea is working.

Document all of the ideas generated from Coolhunting and select the ones that might fit for your consumer experience.

5. Build simple, quick prototypes to test

Ok, this is the last one. Rather than wait for solutions to be fully designed, challenge your team to create a quick prototype in 10 min. or less. Use materials around you, focusing on what features that idea would need to have. To document this, record a video of each team member presenting the prototyped ideas. If you’re collaborating virtually, have each person record a commercial about their idea to share with the team. These artifacts are great to share with consumers for quick and helpful feedback.

One place for teams to collect, organize and share

Experience Design requires a collaborative effort across strategy, research, design, marketing, operations and even external stakeholders like your consumers. These activities generate a lot of artifacts across team members and can easily get misplaced. To help teams run fast, we designed a digital tool to help bring them all together. Learn more about Batterii’s features, including unlimited walls to collect, organize and share your ideas.Start a free trial to get your team on Batterii today.blog-batterii-CTA-trial-button.jpg

Chad Reynolds

Chad Reynolds is the Founder of Batterii, a collaboration platform designed to help teams create better experiences. Over the past 15 years, Chad has worked with brands like Adidas, GE Healthcare, Nike and Procter & Gamble to re-imagine their brand experiences for the next generation of consumers.