Experiential Gestalt - going beyond a user journey

We are living in a world that is becoming increasingly more digital, which has implications for everyone from both business to personal usage.  Digital touches every part of our lives and this is why a new way of thinking is essential to ensure better design for the future.

Simon Norris, CEO of Nomensa, shares his views on the future of design and the importance of pushing the boundaries of possibility to shape experiences and interactions in a digital world.  

Experiential gestalt

Sometimes it is hard to separate experience from the product.  Better design makes it even harder to disconnect the two.  When we talk about user experience there is always a lot of talk around interactions.  However, something more significant is happening right now.  The digital world we live in has opened up a whole host of possibilities when it comes to experience and it is how we share and what we actually do that is important.  

I believe it is vital to look at how interactions are blended into the way people experience things.  Our day to day lives are often centred on particular end-goals and we interact with the environment and take the actions we need to satisfy those end-goals.  The majority of interactions are pretty standard.  However, sometimes we do experience moments of the sublime – we experience things that truly touch us and these moments cut through the mundane course of our lives.  This is when all the little interactions come together resulting in an ‘experiential gestalt’ where the experience created as a whole is something far more special.

Deconstructing experiences for design

People see and feel things differently, according to their own set of past experiences, culture, faith and values.  The meaning given to events, the way we make sense of our world, is based upon our set of core beliefs.  And this is something we need to be aware of when we are deconstructing and creating experiences that we intend to design. 

Everything has the potential to result in the ‘sublime’, however in order to achieve this with design it is important to deconstruct experiences to truly understand how to design for it.  We like to look at this in a way where we break them down into ‘moments of truth’ so we can look at all the little components or interactions that help shape that great experience. 

I strongly believe that we have reached a turning point where people are looking for vastly more meaningful experiences in their personal lives as well as their day-to-day jobs.  And digital remains the upstart: the disruptor that blurs the boundaries between home and work, organisation and marketplace, inside and outside.  So it is important to take all of this into account when creating experiences for this ever demanding audience.

Going beyond 'the journey'

Digital has transformed the way we operate and we are living and working in an increasingly fast-paced and ever-changing world.  Therefore to design effectively for the future we need to get over the fallacy of the immediate and get the right level of perspective.  In order to do this we need to go beyond just taking people ‘on a journey’.  Designers of the future will need to embrace the idea of micro and macro and ‘fly at the right height’ – too high and we get very little detail, too low and we get very little perspective.  

We need to be thinking about the continuum, from end to end, and take more of an ecological approach when creating experiences.  Smart people will take people beyond the journey.  User experience is a journey that everyone takes and everyone has a role to play in shaping experiences, therefore design will need to accommodate this in the future.

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