The Power of Design

Discovering Insights to Improving User Experience with Service Design Tools

We hear plenty of talk about the power of design. It is a very pragmatic discipline. Look around you, nearly everything you touch has been designed. Design attempts to ask (and answer) questions such as: what should the customer experience be like? What should the employee experience be like? How does a company maintain a consistent brand essence and stay relevant to its customers?
How might we take the principles of design and stretch them to examine the intangibles?

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Designing Levels of Interaction

Stop for a minute and think about a product you rarely think about, but interact with daily: your toothbush. Now ask yourself a few questions: Does it work? Can you use it? When it was new, could you use it without any instructions? Does the toothbrush draw you in and give you unexpected delight? Most likely the answer to the first three questions are yes, though the last one has you scratching your head to how a toothbrush (not the toothpaste or related product) can be “delightful.”

This is the challenge of a designer. Designing delight into a product. Designers need to make things that follow an interaction hierarchy:

Functional – Does the product accomplish the job? This must be met at a minimum. Otherwise, why should the product exist?
Usable – Is the product usable by a user? Or does it need some assistance to accomplish the task?
Intuitive – Taking the usability to the next level, can the product be used without significant instruction? will they use it the way the product is intended to be used? Does the product just “make sense?”
Engaging – Does the product draw you in and give you unexpected delight?

If you don’t think a toothbrush can be engaging, take a look at this:

The designers started with a functional aspect, rinsing after brushing, and then figured out a way to incorporate it into the design of the brush in an engaging manner. While many other companies are changing shapes, colors, and bristles, theses designers found a way to subtly delight with added functionality. In the process they removed a pet peeve of mine: that plastic handle which could be re-used for a longer life than the bristles last.

Want to take your designs to the next level of interaction? Take a look at these resources:


Articulating the Value of a Consumer Brand to Stakeholders


RedBox needed to articulate its value proposition to two distinct partners types: Content Providers and Retailers.


A visual thinking workshop was held onsite at RedBox with a number of Gamestorming and visualization techniques to articulate the value of the RedBox and its ecosystem to its different partners, each with distinct needs. The results were distilled into two 11×17” value proposition maps as well as a presentation RedBox could share with its partners.


Messaging at an American Motorcycle Manufacturer


This manufacturer is just that: a manufacturer, not a retailer. As the landscape of retail continues to rapidly change due to technology, social media and social networks. This company, while performing well in its niche, struggled to define a consistent message it could share with its 2000+ worldwide dealers. Since the dealers are closest to the customer, it was important to have clear messaging for continued success.


A one-day workshop with a cross functional team at their headquarters using visual thinking, empathy maps, and challenge maps, which brought the team to consensus on the final messaging ultimately delivered at its dealer meeting.


The message was broadcast at their 2012 Dealer Conference to an audience of over 2000 independent dealers

Client Quotes:

“This was the best dealer show ever in our history..”

I make things. Mostly, I make things better. Design and Innovation Junkie