The Making of Meaningful Experiences

What is an experience? Years ago, I found myself struggling to define “an experience” in terms of design. Those of us who design experiences sometimes get caught in the 1000s of details and decisions that make up a solution, so I needed a definition to help create focus. Finally, I came up with this:

“An experience is a journey that unfolds over time, according to a clear plan
and leaves the participant changed in some way at the finish”.

This definition helped me approach my work in a better way. Because “experiences” unfold over time, I never am satisfied to look at static screens. It’s just not possible to sense the journey that way. Humans are designed to understand “flow” – a sense “moving through”. If we want the participant on this journey to be “changed in some way” – then a positive change has to be planned. Do they enter the path “unproductive” and leave “productive”. Do they enter “frustrated” and leave “content”. The plan for change along the path is critical. Experience designers plan for this change.


The definition helps to create a mindset and approach to the solution. It looks like this:

What’s the customer’s journey?
What’s our goal for how they will change from the enter point to the end point?
What’s our plan to help them reach their goal?
This might seem simple and obvious, but unpacking it all was a game changer!

Little things mean a lot.

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