Return on Experience – learning from 3 Keynotes

I watched three inspiring keynotes this week: two from MIX and Robert Fabricant's Interations’09 keynote. Our guest blogger Robert Burke did a very good job of highlight the MIX keynotes, I want to capture the key things I learned from these keynotes to share with you. Both Deborah Adler and Robert Fabricant’s talks focused on changing people’s behavior through design, which in my opinion is the most impactful Return on Experience (ROE) coined by Bill Buxton. Here’s how I see how the keynote messages come together.

Return on Experience

1. What is Experience? It’s not just an object you are designing or producing, it’s the experience of using the object including movement and timing.For example, when you are designing a website, focusing on how do your users get one page from another, how do they enter or leave the site, how do you want them to feel when browsing through the site. Don’t just focus on functionality and list of things users can do on the site.

2. What are the returns can Experience Design bring? There are direct and exciting outcomes by focusing on experience such as increase revenue and brand recognition. Especially, in this tough economy, it’s proven that companies who focused on Experience Design will thrive. Buxton gave multiple success stories from the dawn of Industrial Design age. Adler shared her example of leading the ClearRx team to successfully redesigned prescription bottles and labels for pharmacies at Target (see below left). Because of this redesign and focus on experience, Target experienced significant revenue increase and their brand of putting customers first was enhanced. Fabricant talked about the difference between outcome and impact. Return on Experience can also lead to long-term behavior change. For example, people form the right behavior to save energy (see below right the energy efficient meter mentioned in Fabricant’s talk), recycle, and taking prescription drugs through salient design. The impact is improving people’s lives.

Target ClearRx Packaging Systemimage

3. How to achieve Return on Experience? First, as Alder mentioned you need to have a love affair with your users and really digging into your customer’s needs. Ask the right questions which can lead to the right solutions. Second, you need the right techniques to do design. Buxton talked about creating multiple solutions in the ideation stage and using sketches as a cheap and fast way to test these ideas. At the same time, focus on transitions/process of these ideas rather than the end-stages. Fabricant gave the tip on giving your product a character or personality can help users emotionally connect with your products when using them. Third, creating a unified experience is important so that users can have the same rich and consistent experience across web, client, and devices. It doesn’t matter which platform a user is using, the experience is seamless and connected. Designers and developers need to use the right set of tools to create this unified experience from ideation to production. (Check out SketchFlow in Blend 3, below is a screenshot of it)

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