3: Always ask: “How do we want people to feel after they experience this?”

Too often we focus all of our energy on designing the thing, and forget about the people who will use it.  As we approach any design effort, we must step back and always ask: "How do we want people to feel after they experience this?"

Part of the challenge lies in taking an "ecosystem" approach to the human experience.  It's relatively easy to think about the experience of the end user of the thing you design, but what about the experience to be had by the person who sells it?  How could we make that better?  Who will service it?  Who will retire it?  Who will market it?  Who will provide training and education?  A comprehensive look at all of their needs will help (but not guarantee) a better overall experience for the end user.

Another part of the challenge lies in thinking about usage through time.  We often design for those few moments that make up the core value proposition.  But what about all the other experiences?  How does it feel to start using it?  What does mastery feel like — is it exhilarating or boring?  How does using this expand our human experience?  How does it influence our environment?  What does it feel like to extend one's relationship with the offering?  Does it help someone get to a state of flow?

There are many examples where designing for the entire experience has made for success in the world (here's a list of "well done" vs. "not so well done"):

  • Apple Store vs. Sony Style
  • Dream Dinners vs. Hamburger Helper
  • Trekking in Bhutan vs. in Nepal
  • Disneyland vs. your local amusement park
  • World of Warcraft vs. Second Life
  • Mint.com vs. your credit card and bank statements

As Lance Armstrong would say, it's not about the bike.  We must keep asking "How do we want people to feel after they experience this?"

This is the third of 21 principles.  Please give me your feedback and ideas.