Vision in experience design

Applications enabled with Flybits’ context-aware solution allows brands to curate a wealth of unique experiences in their mobile apps, a powerful tool in refining a brand’s customer experience, but also a very new concept. We are increasingly hearing the term “experience design” in many industries, which raises the question, how do brands design lasting and powerful user experiences? User Experience Designers often pride themselves in the careful consideration of three synchronous parts of a project: function, medium, and appearance. However there is something missing from this mix. Social media apps are a great example of both good and bad user experience design, and we see this success with their rich user base. While maintaining a strong focus on the medium of the experience (the mobile device), interface design and appearance, and the core function of the product; a new crucial ingredient has evolved in experience design: vision.

The user creativity in applications like Snapchat and Instagram is fascinating, with some users even building their accounts into a thriving business. Snapchat’s famous cofounder, Evan Spiegel, has always kept a strong product vision in mind, stating “Snapchat isn’t about capturing the traditional Kodak moment. It’s about communicating with the full range of human emotion — not just what appears to be pretty or perfect,” and we see this strong vision in the fluidity of feature evolution in the application. In 2014, Snapchat added the Geofilter feature, where contextual elements like a user’s location, battery level, speed, time, or weather can create custom filters for their shared media. This element in personalization is a key brand differentiator, and often why users send Snapchats instead of messaging an image. At Flybits, we provide software for any developer to easily build context into their app and provide rich, custom content for users; with Snapchat as a perfect example of how successful context-aware applications can be.

Exploring the idea of filters in Instagram, these subtle elements act as a key level of personalization. Instagram cofounder Kevin Systrom feels filters help capture the “tone and voice of [a] moment” allowing users to editorialize and share their experiences. Another key element of success in Instagram and Snapchat is how they approach interaction design on mobile, focusing their entire experience around the platform. Systrom even noted the idea of Instagram would have never worked on the web. Both apps focus on capturing a moment and creating a shared experience with their community, and with Flybits, any app can adapt and personalize with the same focus in their content. This success is derived from a clear product vision, with each additional feature adding value to the customer experience.

This is a stark contrast from the unrefined and fragmented experiences of two social media giants, Facebook and Twitter. Both born on the web, Facebook and Twitter have not quite captured the customer delight of shared experiences in the same way Snapchat or Instagram have. Twitter, a globally recognized brand with share buttons on majority of websites, has a tiny user base of about 10% of the internet, with many people confused about the platform or what value it provides. Facebook has many siloed elements of their application, with their biggest pain being the News Feed. Snapchat works in a lovely way where the user base creates content, which is supported by opt-in advertising, which engages the user base, who then create more content. This is where I love to hate on Facebook: the content users come for (their friend’s media) competes with the advertising of Facebook Pages.

A brand’s ability to focus on the long term vision of their customer experience allows a product to grow and evolve in ways that make sense for users, and as new content or features are added, experiences delight rather than confuse or frustrate. So as the art of Experience Design continues to evolve, designers should continue to focus on function, medium, and appearance, but add a fourth and most important ingredient: vision. Where will your product be in 5 years? 10 years? 100 years? This big vision thinking is a key part of experience design and is vital to product design and evolution.

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