by Peng Hong
I recently attended UX Hong Kong 2011 and participated in the Experience Strategy workshop hosted by Steve Baty and Janna DeVylder. It focussed on how to align experience strategies in an organization in order to provide consistent customer interactions.
Image courtesy of Daniel Szuc
What is Experience Strategy?
Experience Strategy is a collection of activities that an organization undertakes to deliver a series of positive and exceptional interactions, which, when taken together constitute a product or service experience that is meaningful, hard-to-replicate, and distinguishable from its competitors.
Experience Strategy Steps:
Vision – The master plan, the shared goal, the overall or specific experience we want our users to have. Such experiences might include being engaged, feeling in control, being efficient and so on.
Roadmap – Maps the steps that need to happen to achieve the vision. Note that the roadmap may consist of multiple projects.
Principle – Provides a guide for design choices that must be made in each project. The principle might include techniques such as building scenarios and personas. It bridges the gap between the vision and the detailed design.
How to deliver a positive experience?
Experience is the emotional response brought about through interaction with the product itself. It is something inherently personal to each individual. We can’t design the experience itself, but we can design for an appropriate experience. Here, when Janna mentioned the term “appropriate”, she said it was not always a positive or superior experience, sometimes, it was more complex. What we can do is to minimize the negativity. So she called it an “appropriate experience”. I think this is pretty accurate here.
A famous example of designing for an "appropriate experience" is provided by Eastman from Kodak when he said in his advertising slogan: "You press the button, we do the rest." Indeed, all people had to do was press the button and they felt in control. Until now, it is still Kodak’s signature experience, or you may call it experience vision.
How to design for experience?
I guess this is nothing new here, but I would like to highlight the importance of identifying personas, and here we are talking about real personas, not provisional or generic ones. Without user research, provisional personas are based only on the designer’s imagination - how they expect their users would behave. Real personas not only gives designers a sense of who they are designing for, but also provides a great tool for the designers to communicate that knowledge throughout the development team to achieve a common understanding.
Context and strategy
Understanding the context of use is essential; people behave differently in different contexts. To illustrate this, Steve described his experience with Delta Airlines. After a 20-hour flight from Denver, when he found out that his luggage was missing, his mental state was very different from that of other passengers who had only flown from Tokyo/Narita. In addition, expectations, cultural background, and social conditioning all contribute to context. We did an interesting storyboarding exercise, where emphasis was placed on people and context.
From there, we undertook an exercise to illustrate what a hotdog stand should look like. It was not just about the physical appearance of the stand itself, the illustration also needed to include context information, such as the location of the stand, the nearby buildings, the crowds, time, wind direction, culture, and the people of course!
Business model and strategy
This focusses on where the money comes from. Without understanding the way the business is making money, we may not be able to focus our experience strategy on things that will eventually help the business. Steve talked about how Amazon makes money based on the number of days they can retain the cash. The longer they can retain cash the more money they can make. Hence, with a good understanding of the business model, we can craft the right strategy and experience.
Finally, Steve talked about how to integrate and attain a seamless transition to using Experience Strategies within an organization, and how to assess technical capability.
In all, the conference was enjoyable and the workshop enlightening. I look forward to next year's event and others like it in the region.