A learn-by-doing community for creative professionals.


September, 2013

How to make and use a Trend Report

Our friend Mike Roller teaches design in Cincinnati and has put together this interesting take on trend reports. If you have to draft one or use one, take some of his thoughts and do it better


Experience Design

What is an experience? And Where does it reside? We know we can’t make someone have an experience….you can lead a horse to water…etc. But we can set the table.

That’s why I start with Danny Meyer when I talk about experiences.




A-E-I-O-U Framework

This is a great lens to look at experiences with – what should we be looking for when we start the Examine Phase? How can we make sure we’re seeing all that there is to see? Tracking Activities, Environments, Interactions, Objects and Users can get us towards an understanding of the current state of an experience.

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Lots more detail here, if you want to dig deeper on this framework.


The 5Es: Entice, Enter, Engage, Exit, Extend

When you think about experiences, we often imagine an ideal state, with a live, fully living site and a happy set of customers. But how do we get there? Great products are great from the very start, which is why things like Unboxings are so popular. Giving your customers a great experience has a long arc. The 5Es help us to examine that arc.

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The Five Es of an experience arc, mapped with post-it confetti!

You can read a lot more in detail about the 5Es here.


Experience Inventory

Bringing these two together can help. We like to map out the A-E-I-O-U framework against the 5Es, to spot key pain points, frictions areas and spots where things are working well.


Mapping Experiences

There are Four Experience maps I like to make when working through these issues, zooming in on these key moments and arcs.


Emotion Maps:

Qualitative depictions of the arcs of experience for various users. What can be amazing about these is using these is that we can find and understand gaps, discontinuities and dissonances in user experiences.

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How users or businesses work through process

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My favorite, You Dropped Food on the Floor, is linked below.


Action Maps

Flows in Space and Time. These include physical and digital user journeys….these can be digital wireframes, or annotated system maps, or physical maps.

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Service Maps

Service Maps can help bring these all together: User Journeys, Decision trees, action maps. Playing with the line of visibility and arrows of action/transaction can help you figure out how to iterate on the value proposition.

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Learn a lot more about service blueprinting here and here.


Taking the time to Inventory, map and really understand the experiences your customers are currently having – either with you or with a competitor – is an essential first step towards designing better experiences.

Red Burns’ Design Advice

Margaret Stewart, a former student of Red Burns, who was often referred to as the godmother of Silicon Alley, reflected on Burns’ approach to design and technology in a recent Wired article.

“She knew that technology was a means to an end — and that the end was people. She saw it as something you needed to get to the real work: improving people’s lives, making them feel more connected, bringing delight in big and small ways, and empowering them to affect change.”

“Don’t see the world as a market, but rather a place that people live in — you are designing for people, not machines.”

In reading about Burns’ approach to her curriculum, I found that she sought out a diverse group of students who were eager to learn how to solve problems. Working together with a group of strangers with varied backgrounds adds to the challenge and the rewarding feeling of completing a project together — if you’ve ever attended a Design Gym weekend workout or night class you can probably relate! Margaret also captured some of Burns’ quotes during her address to new design students. Here are some standouts that can be applied to the design thinking process.

– Look for the question, not the solution.
– Observe, imagine and create.
– Creativity is not the game preserve of artists, but an intrinsic feature of all human activity.
– In any creative endeavor you will be discomfited and that is part of learning.
– Communicate emotion.
– Don’t see the world as a market, but rather a place that people live in — you are designing for people, not machines.
– Be willing to risk, make mistakes, and learn from failure.

Make a Dent in the Universe

Miles, one of the Design Gym founders and partners, sent this out last week…and I finally took some time to watch the whole thing.

It is worth the time. Miles noted three reasons why this is a great talk:

Wilson Miner outlines at least three of my core beliefs about design so eloquently in this talk.

  1. Successful design becomes invisible
  2. The tools we use shape us as much as we shape them
  3. (less concise, but) Basically one of the great character traits of designers (in the talk it’s artists) is that when they look at the world, they see a space that they can shape instead of one they’re subject to.



At the end of the talk (37 minutes in!) He says:


Design is the choices we make about the world we want to live in.


Design is making things that nudge the world in the right ways, and that make a dent in the universe. It is a very exciting time to be alive in this sense – it’s easier than ever before to make things and spread them – not just apps and websites, but ideas, plans, language.


Personally, that’s why I get up each day and work at the Design Gym – I try to spread the language of Design so that everyone sees a space in their own world that they can shape.


Below are my sketchnotes that I scribbled during the talk. They are for my understanding…but maybe they’ll help you pull out some interesting points from the talk when you watch it!


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