Studio Notes | Short Reads
Designers frequently employ prototypes to test and iterate their ideas, but when it comes to services, things work a little differently. Unlike physical products, services are intangible experiences with intricate interactions between interwoven touchpoints, and they require the smooth orchestration of numerous human and digital elements.
Experience Prototyping acknowledges this fundamental distinction, and allows us to test and refine service experiences more effectively.
How does Experience Prototyping work?
Experience Prototyping is the art of testing specific key interactions within a service, and then linking them together to create a holistic experience for evaluation. This method enables designers to scrutinize both individual interactions, and how these interactions work together. We can then make individual refinements which enhance the overall service experience.
Touchpoints – Recreation & Simulation
A critical facet of a service experience is that it can potentially involve many different kinds of touchpoints. When it comes to recreating touchpoints for an experience prototype, the objective is to provide users with something they can interact with in a way that closely mirrors how they would do so in a real-life setting.
There is a lot of room for creativity when it comes to recreating the ‘essence’ of a touchpoint interaction, here are some examples of how we can do this…
Human Interactions: When service interactions involve staff members or other people, role-playing is an invaluable technique which allows users to engage with real people within a simulated environment. The touchpoint in this case is the staff member, but make-shift props and furniture can be used to create a ‘set’ to emulate the physical aspects of the interaction.
Multifaceted Interactions: Experience Prototyping can become quite intricate, and as we learn and improve individual interactions, we can increase the scale and complexity of the experience being tested.
A higher-fidelity experience prototype may encompass sequences of interactions between multiple touchpoints. For instance, when prototyping the service experience of an airport, the user may be tasked with navigating a simulated arrivals hall, where they might encounter and interact with a combination of both human and digital touchpoints as part of the experience.
Importance of Iteration
One of the greatest strengths of Experience Prototyping is its ability to facilitate rapid iteration. By testing and fine-tuning individual touchpoints and their effects as a collective, designers can quickly enhance a service’s overall user experience. It’s a process of continuous improvement, driven by user feedback and insights gathered through these prototypes.
Building an entire service just for user testing isn’t feasible, but Experience Prototyping is the next-best way to learn and improve the experience of your users. It forms a bridge between the concept and reality, giving users a taste of the intended experience to enough of an extent to which we can still learn and make small refinements which have great impact. Remember…
“You cannot experience an experience without experiencing it!”
Bill Moggridge, Co-founder of IDEO & Author of “Designing Interactions”. Quoted at CIID in Copenhagen.