Thinking Out Loud

"Straight from the horse's mouth"
Oliver Bailey Co-Founder, Absurd

The evolving role of Experience Design

Over the past decade, digital as part of the marketing mix, has exponentially exploded - that’s not a new insight, however recently the landscape has changed which has implications for Experience Designers.

The role of the Experience Designer has always been a fascinating one to me, from understanding complex user behaviours to designing cohesive solutions.  What makes it even more exciting, is the recent diversification of the client landscape (as we see new sectors emerge) and the ever-changing platform base.

We had websites... mobile sites... apps... and now the landscape has evolved, to include everything from wearables to home based hardware. In the last couple of years, the role of the Experience Designer has evolved at a speed we’ve not seen before and I’d argue that this is one of the most exciting times to be in this role.

Why do I say this?

Experience beyond the website - in the past month, I have been sent two digital strategy briefs that need both online platforms and physical hardware to be considered. Strategy helps us to understand the challenges and define the roles of channels (platforms/hardware/social/media), but the design team is responsible for designing and considering the experience across them - from engaging users with the website to in-store experiences with tablets, voice-activated services and AR.

Audience context - Experience Designers have to understand not only which audiences are using which hardware, but also how they interact with it and for what purpose. Watching members of my family use the Amazon Echo has led to some fascinating insights; my mum uses the Amazon Echo as a timer in the kitchen, my 15-year old cousin is embarrassed to talk to it and uses the app to control it, my 5-year old nephew thinks it’s hilarious to ask it jokes, whilst in the office we use it purely as a radio.  This array of use cases adds an additional layer of complexity when designing for what is already a broad audience.  

Accessibility - Accessibility is now a lot more than ensuring something is AAA standard. Experience Designers have to think about how hearing and physical disabilities can hinder the wider experience. 

Transformation as mandatory - A couple of years ago, transformation was the word agencies were using to describe the activity of driving digital maturity within an organisation.  This has now made it's way into client briefs; how do organisations use digital to become more efficient?