The other school of thought is more at an abstract level that defines experience design as a discipline of designing mental journeys that leaves the customer with memories of having performed something special, meaningful, engaging, with sense of achievement or just fun and entertainment.
Like any other discipline, I think experience design can also be understood as an organized production system that is about creating output in the form of desired experiences using available inputs such as knowledge and ideas, and finally using resources in the form of design processes and skills.
Let’s take an example of thematic restaurants. Today, food is more of an experience rather than a necessity, as only a minor part of the average income (approximately 10 per cent) is spent on food.
Dining is a combined body and mind (sensory) experience and has aspects of culture and society. The body tastes, smells, sees, hears, feels and digests the food. The mind reads the food consciously and unconsciously in the form of activated emotions and memories.
Theme restaurants are cautiously designed to deliver customer experiences by influencing customer’s state of mind with the right ambiance, environment, lighting, music/live performance, and personal service on top of the food served to stimulate emotions like happiness and so on. A great deal of skills and processes are required to accomplish delivery of such desired experiences in the restaurant business.
Another example could be watching theater, which is another form of immersive experience thoughtfully crafted for audience. The stage performances are scripted around a theme to entertain and educate audience (selective sometimes) by stimulating emotions such as anger, happiness, surprise, confusion, and more.
The two examples mentioned above can help us dissect different aspects of organized experience delivery system.
The core activity is what a customer wants to accomplish as a task or an activity. For example, watching a play in a theater or eating in a restaurant.
The Concept (or the ‘Feel’)
The core concept is the theme that the customer admires and what the product stands for. For example, a concept “Happiness is in small moments of life and must be shared” is the theme of Unilever ice cream brand and is well translated into the design of ice cream packaging and ice cream vending machine designs where in a customer is delivered ice cream when he/she smiles into the face recognition system. See demo
Peripherals are supporting experiences (part of the overall customer experience) to which a customer initially pays extra emphasis. For example, the way seating is arranged, welcoming gesture at the entry, cleanliness, and so on.
Core experiences are activities in which a customer gets involved physically and mentally. For example, taste of the food, dialog delivery of an actor, sound and music and so on. Developing core experience is a skilled job and the output is actively consumed by customers. However, core experience cannot be appreciated without a good theme.
Support services are materials such as cutlery, menu, and order delivery that are used to accomplish the core activity.
Such a dissection would help in understanding design and delivery of experiences. In my next blog I will make an attempt to explore how a similar approach can be applied in design for software applications.