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The 10 Principles of Great Experience Design [Speed Summary]

Here’s a speed summary of Matt Watkinson’s new FT book on experience design that’s getting rave reviews – including from Rory Sutherland: The Ten Principles Behind Great Customer Experience.

For digital designers, the 10 Principles put the ‘you’ into UX, by building on the empathic design movement – designing from insights into ‘you’ – the person actually using the service, product, site or app.

Empathic design is people-first, not technology-first, and builds out from human needs, emotions and desires. We expect and demand well designed experiences that work for us, and if they don’t we vote with our wallets and our voices – which is why the popular Net Promoter System for experience design and management has helped drive growth for so many companies.

The 10 Principles seeks to address two big problems in experience design – a pervasive short-term cost-saving/revenue-boosting fixation that destroys experience (and sustainable growth), and a preoccupation with (usually meaningless) quantitative metrics.

Quality of experience eats the quantity of experience for breakfast

The Ten Principles Behind Great Customer Experience

  1. Great experiences strongly reflect the customer’s identity – Our beliefs and values play a decisive role in our behaviour as customers. Those experiences that reinforce our self-image and resonate with our personal values leave us feeling good about our decisions, while those brands that clearly stand for something engender much stronger loyalty. This is essential to getting the experience right at a brand level.
  2. Great experiences satisfy our higher objectives – In a movie, what makes each character interesting are the objectives hidden beneath what they say or do. Customers are no different: wants and needs are derivative, it is satisfying the higher objective behind them that is the foundation on which great experiences are built. This is fundamental to getting the experience right at a product or service level.
  3. Great experiences leave nothing to chance – To create consistent, smooth customer journeys, every interaction needs to be considered, planned and designed. There is no detail that is too small to consider. This is the starting point for getting the experience right at an interaction level.
  4. Great experiences set and then meet expectations – Existing expectations, learnt behaviours and associations are the criteria that customers use to judge an experience from the beginning. Great customer experiences explicitly consider these factors, and exceed expectations where desirable
  5. Great experiences are effortless – Interactions that put the onus on the customer, soaking up their time and energy, are quickly put off or replaced with those that are less demanding. Few things generate more goodwill and repeat business than being effortless to deal with.
  6. Great experiences are stress free – We all instinctively avoid stressful situations. Customer experiences that eliminate confusion, uncertainty and anxiety reap the rewards, generating a competitive advantage, loyalty and a peerless brand image.
  7. Great experiences indulge the senses – From delicious food to relaxing music or a beautiful painting, we all actively seek sensory pleasure. Customer experiences that delight the senses win our hearts and have us coming back for more.
  8. Great experiences are socially engaging – The importance of cultivating personal relationships with customers cannot be over-stated: we more readily buy from a friend than a stranger. However, our position within a social group is also a powerful and private motivator. Those experiences that elevate our status are often the most highly valued.
  9. Great experiences put the customer in control – Control is fundamentally important to us: we want to do things in our own time and in our own way, and we take exception to those encounters that force us to jump through hoops. By contrast, we appreciate experiences that are flexible, accommodating and leave us feeling in control.
  10. Great experiences consider the emotions – We are all slaves to our emotions, yet most see their customers from a purely rational perspective. Evaluating the emotional aspect of an experience brings often unconsidered issues to the surface and opens up new ways to delight the customer.

With practical, how-to chapters on each of the 10 principles, The Ten Principles Behind Great Customer Experience is easy to understand, quick and efficient to use and offers a flexible and scalable framework for doing ‘experience-first design’. The book itself is well-designed including a series of downloadable worksheets (with completed examples) for great experience design (link to download all worksheets)

There’s little explicit in the way of psychology, but the ten principles are psychologically informed, drawing on Khaneman’s Thinking, Fast and  Slow, and McClelland’s Big Three ‘APA’ model of psychological needs – Achievement – need for personal accomplishment, Power – individual’s desire to control environment, and Affiliation need for friendship, acceptance, and belonging.

Written by
Dr Paul Marsden
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Digital wellbeing covers the latest scientific research on the impact of digital technology on human wellbeing. Curated by psychologist Dr. Paul Marsden (@marsattacks). Sponsored by WPP agency SYZYGY.