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.

Daniel Stillman
[email protected]

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