Experience Design

Design is Future

When I began my design career a few decades ago, the majority of the work I produced was passive, printed material. Design was broken into a few various genres, but almost all of it was passive in some form or another. I started my career as a graphic designer, but over the course of time, thanks to technology that was being defined and invented in the late 1980’s my function as a designer changed. By that I mean the work I did went from I created something, people looked at it and I had no real feedback loop to determine the overall impact or experience that was achieved by the final piece. As computer technology changed the toolset I used to create visual images, it also changed the way people interacted with design, and began to blur the definition of what a designer is and the roles they play in business, product development, brand interaction, and ultimately what we call user experiences today. I no longer define my career as “Graphic Design”. Graphic design is simply one element of a multi-faceted set of disciplines that I practice on a daily basis. “Designer” is a more realistic term, because like so many in the field today, you are called upon to wear so many different hats, and develop work that interacts directly with business, marketing, engineering, advertising and more.

As computer technology changed the toolset I used to create visual images, it also changed the way people interacted with design, and began to blur the definition of what a designer is and the roles they play in business, product development, brand interaction, and ultimately what we call user experiences today. I no longer define my career as “Graphic Design”. Graphic design is simply one element of a multi-faceted set of disciplines that I practice on a daily basis. “Designer” is a more realistic term, because like so many in the field today, you are called upon to wear so many different hats, and develop work that interacts directly with business, marketing, engineering, advertising and more.

The 30 minute film below is from the “Design is Future Congresstival” held at Disseny Hub Barcelona each year in June. It showcases the main highlights and strong ideas from the 15 speakers that took part in the Design is Future 2016, as well as from the presenter and curators of the event. These individuals speak directly to what the role of design is in today’s world, and the impact it has. Design is no longer the last mile. The point at which someone says “Make it look good”. It is no longer styling, it has evolved for the better as more people have become aware of its impact in the last 20 or so years. The video is really worth watching if you are involved in any aspect of design. As Doug Powel, Design Principal and Director of Design Education at IBM says, “This is an amazing time to be a designer”, and I couldn’t agree more.

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Adding to What I Posted Earlier About Social Media…

Earlier today I posted on how social media, and shared experiences are where consumers are connecting to brands on a daily basis. This is not really news to  allot of people in the advertising industry, but this goes on to reiterate the “experiences” point: In his most recent Ad Age Post Garrick Schmitt talks about what “User Experience Professionals” have been preaching for the last 15 years or so: experiences, or shared experiences, not messages are what brands should focus on.

An example he points out is, “65% of United States consumers report that a digital experience changed their perception about a specific brand (either positively or negatively) and 97% of that group report that the same experience ultimately influenced whether or not they went on to purchase a product from that specific brand”.

So what does that mean?, It means experience matters. It matters allot.

Schmitt goes on to mention Red Bull, Virgin America,  and Guinness as great examples of brands that have spent their money in creating a qualitative difference in people’s lives. A difference  that ultimately makes a bigger impact than traditional expensive advertising messages.

This is sort of a “Duh,” moment for me, but then again I have been saying for a few years now if you want to reach a broader audience, then you need to touch them on a more personal level (minds out of the gutter please). This means creating an experience that resonates with them, is memorable, and builds a personal loyalty to your brand. You need to create an experience that is reflected in their personal lifestyle, and is shared across multiple media channels. All of which are connected through a common user experience or voice.

The bottomline is this, it comes down to creating acts (not ads) that are based on people and their behavior. You need to define a human purpose for the brand, something that allows people to participate, and in so doing, makes the brand popular. Being able to plan and create for experiences both functional and emotional is the key to brand success.