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Designing an experience comes down to key factors based on values. In order to achieve a desired experience and implementing the triggers for it, one needs to decide on the type of values to represent. Are we talking about global values, like basic human wants, “specific user needs”, as services today are focused on, or culturally and traditionally determined values for a certain group? The famous example of the Sony Walkman was invented in Japan, where it is considered quite rude to talk on the metro, so giving people the possibility of listening to music and being able to enjoy the train ride in a completely new way was revolutionary. Many services are aimed at specific needs for a specific city, like transportation or real estate, but for the most part communication services all have a global perspective; the thing is that the services now used globally started extremely local. Facebook was invented by college students who wanted a new way to share photos and to send messages to eachother. Napster was also invented by a student who wanted to share music files for free with other friends. Of course, these are landmark inventions based on not only the desire of a small group of people, but the communication technology already in place. The technology in this case determines as much the desire as vice versa. So how will it be in the future? Will we adapt a whole new set of globally accepted values, or will particular cultural roots become more central to our attitudes defining behavior, and thereby product and service innovation? It seems obvious that we accept more and more a global point of view on many things, from privacy, to business models and communication, but how much will we really abandon tradition, or embrace local culture? The reality today is that we have learned from examples such as the Walkman and Facebook; that what works for one particular type of user group, will most likely be desirable for many others, and that is the basis for the global point of view. So what about the new old? Do we apply the same philosophy for them? Or do we emphasize traditional cultural values?
Another example of culturally defined behavior is the habit of using the street as a place of congregation and social interaction, very common among elderly in Italy. There bars and the street outside your house or the local piazza is the natural place to meet and talk about current events. Whereas in Norway talking on the street is basically short and hasty; obviously climate is a big factor, but there`s also a bigger, psychological factor. In Norway we tend to feel a bit timid and exposed in certain public situations, and we traditionally prefer a more private setting to talk with friends. In Japan the customs for politeness affect behavior in most types of social interaction, but they also give rise to more extreme ways of expression. Habits and attitudes such as these are not irrelevant factors to consider when thinking about service design, and how to define an experience within it.
So; which experience is the one to strive for in designing a service?
– which values are common for the user culture? (what are the tabus, what goes “without saying”, what`s unheard of?)
– Which type of positive experience should be the aim? (it is not enough to say “a positive experience”) Can a culturally specific experience be used as an analogy, or as a template? (for instance, the japanese tradition to write wishes on paper and tie them to the temple tree.)
– What are the key factors in this experience? (touchpoints, visibility/prescence, location, grafic interface, physical interface)
– Is there one main defining element to this experience? (the action itself and its significance, the result of the action)
For the new old attention to cultural and traditional values could be a key to creating a positive experience; for instance as a reminder of past events or as an ironic play on them. The example of the temple tree could serve as basis for a new way to use a communication device to express wishes, or a very personal way to send messages, for instance.