Defining and creating a memorable experience for your customers is no easy task. Product owners and development teams can easily rattle off ideas to designers about what features are necessary to stay competitive. But if you ask them to share their vision for the overall more subtle emotional aspects of the experience, they often get quiet or resort to the familiar old UI clichés of "simplicity, intuitiveness, etc." This means that you often start your design work with less insight than you need to drive visual and interaction design.

Enter the experience workshop - a collaborative meeting and setup where clients can really talk about what a great experience can feel like among a sea of inspirational images, digital interfaces, products, services, brands, cars, textures, and more. Companies that build digital products and services are engaging in a new level of competition; it's no longer good enough to deliver a usable product. Our designs must reach an aspirational vision that elevates the experience beyond mere usability, and a visual, collaborative workshop pushes people to explore and discuss the possibilities.

The workshop helps teams discuss what attributes are inherent in these other experiences that are meaningful to the experience they're defining. After a process of prioritization and discussion, the end result is often a huge cloud of ideas and words that sit on a spectrum from a poor experience to an ideal experience. The examples aren't what's important for our output. We collect insight from the discussion, the words, that help us define the ideal experience.

The workshop brings teams together to learn and collaborate on the experience. What I love most about this activity is the connections made from people across different teams that can relate on a personal level because of their shared experiences. It's not just a visioning exercise for the future; it's a team-building event.

Check out the above video to see a glimpse of the workshop in action. And if you want to learn more about how to conduct a workshop and integrate this new approach into your company, you can sign up for an upcoming Cooper U Visual Interface Design course. In fact, we have just a few spots left in next week's class (May 7-8), if this post left you inspired...