Experience design cues 18:47 on Friday

Design cues are reoccurring visual elements, such as the two-part “kidney grille” of a BMW car or the flowing stream of led headlights on new Audi cars.

Audi A5 LED headlights
Audi A5 LED headlights, originally uploaded by janandersen_dk.

How could you use the idea of design cues in Experience design? What kind of “experience elements” could be re-used in experiences provided by various products of a company?

IKEA could provide an example. The IKEA experience is (or used to be) that of cheap, good looking, and easy to assemble furniture. The rationale was that they could cut prices by not pre-assembling the pieces. Instead, the work of assembly was left to consumers. Part of the promise was that anyone could assemble any furniture they bought from IKEA, with a single universal tool that came with every IKEA product. A great example of maintaining the chic, cheap, and simple experience throughout the whole product portfolio.

Over the years the IKEA experience has changed. No doubt do they still have cheap furniture, but the one-tool simplicity has gone. Many of the furniture pieces now need a plethora of tools to come together (none included).

Does the IKEA promise still reflect the actual experience? Are the expectations set by marketing aligned with the product?

Why the car references? I spent the day at the Nokia factory in Salo, having been invited to give a short presentation on Experience to the current IDBMpro students. The teacher of this particular two-day assignment was Toni-Matti Karjalainen who works as the Research Director of the IDBM program at Helsinki School of Economics. He has studied the design processes of car manufacturers, and the term design cue came from his presentation. Thanks for everyone present, it was all very interesting — not least to see how rolls of components (yes, the components come in rolls) become a finished and packaged mobile phone!

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