Customer Experience and Design

Creativity: The Business Value of Experience Design (Part 8 of 8)

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This is the eighth and final in a series of blog posts sharing the results of our study on the business value of experience design. In this post, we explore the power of creativity to stir excitement, reduce anxiety and express the company’s values to help it stand out from the competition.

Earlier this year, the Kunsten Museum of Modern Art in Aalborg, Denmark commissioned $84,000 to Danish artist Jens Haaning to deliver two new pieces of artwork. Haaning delivered a surprising result when the museum uncrated two blank canvasses. Entitled “Take the Money and Run,” Haaning describes the work (or lack of it) as a statement on “poor wages.” Whether you see Haaning’s work as a violation of a contract or a thought-provoking expression of socioeconomic disparities, he accomplished what all creative endeavors strive for: eliciting a response.

We wanted to save Creativity for last in this series, because it’s the first thing many people think of when they think about Experience Design. Like being On Brand, creativity is often narrowly associated with how a design looks: colors, imagery, and generalized aesthetics. But, despite being the most familiar elements of great design, creativity is one of the most elusive ones. We know creativity when we see it: it is original, unique and surprising. But creativity also applies to what we don’t see: How it works, the structure and process of a product, and how it delivers on the entire experience. Creativity is an essential ingredient throughout the entire product lifecycle: identifying new markets to research to build empathy, re-imagining and breaking the rules of a business process, questioning technology platforms to create new innovations, or experimenting with new ways to work your logo into a web page. Creativity is the single element that can be applied across all of the other seven values of experience design to multiply their impact.

It’s been said that creativity is what links the head and the heart; the left brain and the right brain; the art and the science.  A creative design does not exist for the mere sake of being creative and garnering its own attention. A creative design ultimately serves to solve a customer problem. But a creative design also uses that experience to differentiate from the competition.  The Southwest Airlines boarding experience – where you are assigned to a boarding order rather than a specific seat – creatively solves a problem for passengers’ need for a fair shot at the best seats.  It sounds counterintuitive, but Southwest loyalists will also tell you that it results in a much more orderly boarding experience. And as the only major airline to follow this boarding process, it is also a creative differentiator for the overall travel experience.

How can you add creativity to your experience design? While many companies, film studios, and rock bands are known for their larger-than-life creative saviors – Steve Jobs, Stanley Kubrick, Patti Smith – the reality is that this is largely mythology. Creativity is not a single person, but a team with a shared culture and process that is open to creativity. Just like creativity is not limited to a single person, it’s also not limited to a single phase or step in a project. It takes a culture commitment across a deliberate process. This process encompasses several creative tools and methods to build empathy, design and ideate, test and experiment, and ultimately iterate to an optimal outcome.

Like Haaning, I considered eliciting a response by posting an empty blog post, but since that idea has been done before, I hope the response I elicited inspired a creative solution for your product or project.

About the Author

Jim Hertzfeld is Principal and Chief Strategist for Perficient, and works with clients to make their customers and shareholders happy through insanely great digital experiences.

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