Design Jargon: Experience Design

What is this??? Every designer is claiming to do this. When I think of Experience Design, the first thing that comes to mind is Disney. They were one of the first to truly create an “experience” that was differentiating. They created an environment that changed your state of being. Go there and get pure fun, escapism, and fantasy.

In the world of design, what experiences are we “designing” for people? Opening the package your scissors came in (with scissors because you can’t open the package without scissors), using the business center at the Courtyard Marriot, using your new XM portable radio. Can using a product be an experience? Sure it can, what if something goes wrong, like the interface is so bad, you can’t use it. Bad experience. What if it works just the way you thought it would, all the time? Great experience.

Here’s what I wonder, is Experience Design any different from what architects, industrial designers, amusement park designers and engineers have been doing forever? I think this jargon was created to help non designers understand the importance of design. That’s a good thing. In the end, the “experience” is really a sum of all the parts. Final product, UI, business practices and philosophy, retail, advertising, etc. etc. Great companies know how to execute on all these.