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10 Elements of Great Experience Design


Under Steve Jobs, simple, clean and distinctive design became the hallmark of Apple products. But as Jobs said, “It takes a lot of hard work to make something simple, to truly understand the underlying challenges and come up with elegant solutions.” To design great experiences, start with the fundamentals:

  • What is the essence of what you want to achieve?
  • How can you align the experience to that core concept?
  • What elements don’t fit the main idea and should be removed?

2. On-Brand

Inessah Selditz, an interaction designer at the LAB at Rockwell Group, says always identify two or three brand attributes to weave into the best design design of your live event. “These attributes will make up a ‘unifying touchstone’ you’ll come back to again and again over the course of a project.” For example, Apple’s attributes include innovation and sleek style, while Zappos’ brand represents customer service and fun.

Throughout the creative and production process, revisit these attributes to determine if your ideas and experience elements are on target.

3. Storytelling Elements

Selditz also says a meaningful experience design includes a storyline. “This is really important because that’s how our minds work. Stories are what makes something memorable.”

Think about the story you want visitors to experience as they pass through your space. From the time they enter to the time they leave, what do they think, experience and remember? Is the goal to educate, entertain—or both?

4. Seamless Flow

Whatever your ultimate event goal is—increase brand awareness, generate leads or drive sales—the attendee journey from entrance to exit needs to be strategically designed.

  • Decide what, where and how your story is communicated.
  • Define how visitors interact with staff and technology along the journey.
  • Determine how to capture contact or lead information.
  • Identify visitors’ next steps once the experience is complete.

A seamless attendee flow throughout makes the most immersive and engaging experience design.

5. Cohesive

A sense of cohesion is crucial to the best experience design. Every element doesn’t have to be identical, but you do need for all elements to share a strong, unified visual relationship throughout the design.

From the smallest touch to the largest element, be consistent in colors, fonts and images to maximize your brand impact.

6. Balance

In Chinese philosophy, yin and yang describe how opposite forces are actually complementary and interconnected. This concept of balancing conflicting elements plays a critical role in the best experience design.

For example, it isn’t easy to incorporate the latest technology and create a warm, welcoming environment—but with the right balance, it can be achieved.

7. Focused

Similar to the simplicity exercise, stop and consider what you want as the main focus of the experience: what element, message or feeling should stand out first and foremost?

Once you’ve decided, use that information to help decide what to—and what not to—include in your best experience design. Prioritize elements that support your focus, and remove anything that distracts or doesn’t fit.

8. Accent Lighting

Lighting is one of the easiest ways to create a mood or environment. From moving fixtures and video integration to holograms and other AV effects, lighting can enhance design and help articulate your story.

Be intentional with lighting elements. Consider how lights can be used to create depth and highlight focus points.

9. Balanced Tech

We’ve talked about all the ways event technologies are used to create a more cohesive experience. But don’t be lured into using technology just because everyone else is.

Jamie Barlow, VP of creative technology at Sparks, says there are critical steps to making a sound technology investment. Barlow says to ask:

  • How do you connect the experience beyond the real world touch point?
  • How can technology help bring your brand’s best assets to life?
  • What specific action do you want attendees to do, and what tools do they need to make it happen?
  • Does the technology medium map back to the story you’re communicating?

Use your answers to help balance your technology selection and supporting media.

10. Multisensory

Jinsop Lee, a TED Talent Search winner and industrial designer, believes great design incorporates all five senses to create an unforgettable experience.

Plan and design your experience to provide attendees with a great experience across multiple senses. Good design looks great, but shouldn’t it also feel great, smell great, sound great and even taste great?

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