Experience Driven Development: Design for real people


Design for real people (Experience driven development - Part 1)

The evolution of marketing

Before we get to the details of experience driven development, let me take you on a short journey to the history of marketing. We will explore three crucial market changes that happened in the last few hundred years, which shaped the market to the state where it is now. We will also explore how these shifts affected the way new product and services are being designed and built.

Market of demand

Long time ago, the general lack of supply on markets reduced the purpose of marketing to “defining the just prices for a product”. The product in this situation would already be manufactured and ready to be sold. The economists were talking about land, labour, and capital as the only driving forces for the production - who owns those owns the market. If we were to summarise that era it would read something like this: “If we can build it, we can sell it!”. The physical and technical ability to create products was key to entering a market.

Over time, things started to change. The customers got power to select from a variety of products to satisfy their needs better. There were many reasons for it. Main ones were the industrial revolution that resulted in mass production of goods and new inventions in logistics and storage solutions. Therefore, there were more goods on the market than ever before, and the goods could be delivered to the places where they could never be delivered before! This was the first important shift that we need to remember - the shift to the market of demand. For businesses it meant a shift to a new paradigm. Now, to sell in the market they need to design a product that meets the expectations. This can be summarised as “If people buy it, we will build it.”

Market of services

The next big shift happened not so long ago. More and more often, it is not the good itself, but a solution to a problem that the people need. Some "don’t see a car as a status symbol it used to be for their parents. Instead, they are looking for a convenient way to get from point A to point B. It may be a public transport one day, bike ride during summer, and car sharing for trips to IKEA." [1]

Continuing on the car example, people rarely want the car for the sake of having a car. They want to stand out, or get from point A to point B in the most efficient way, or be able to move heavy items or do business. Historically, they would need to understand the most often use case and buy a car for it, or bear the burden of owning multiple vehicles. Today, they may choose from a variety of alternatives: they rent a luxurious car for pleasure, get an uber for transportation, hire a van for heavy duty. 

So it was realised the people want to get a service, not necessarily to own a product. For businesses it means they need to understand a problem people try to solve and design a solution to that problem. That is the shift to the market of services that happened on the market.

Market of experiences

With more and more services being introduced, people don’t always see how one service transitions into another. What they see is an end-to-end experience of getting a problem solved.

Take an Uber ride as an example. People rarely attribute this experience to the combination of services: mobile hardware, mobile network, Uber app, payment gateway, banking processing - all the things that let a single taxi ride happen. For consumers it is one single experience, whereas for the businesses it is a combination of complementing services. This is the latest shift we need to note - the shift to the market of experiences. It is difficult to compare very different services, but when they get so easily abstracted by the layer of end-to-end experiences an interesting consequence occur. When interacting with a new service, the customers will base their expectations on previous experiences, even if related to a completely new type of product or service. This essentially make the businesses compete against non-competitors - as they do not compete for the market share or sales figures, they compete for the experience. People spoiled with the ease of use of Uber payment process (you take a ride, you leave a car, the payment happens on its own) find it difficult to pay online when it requires a 3 step payment process. This can escalate to a degree when they can easily abandon the product with such underperforming UX! More than that, they are likely to never come back and spread word-of-mouth about their bad experience. [2]

For the business, it means they not only need to understand the problem the customers are trying to solve - they need to understand that problem in a context and design a full end-to-end experience of solving it. Some people call this process “human-centered design”, some - just using common sense when designing stuff. 

We will talk about how this can be done in the next part!

Now take a moment of your time and think about your organisation. On which stage of marketing is it now? Has it reached the final stage of market understanding yet?

Human in the center of design

People are good dreamers. If they have a problem, they can come up with dozens of creative ways to solve it in the best way possible (“best” according to them and their circumstances of course). It is a huge waste not to use this ability of one’s customers, and try to reinvent the wheel internally instead of just asking the potential users for their opinions. People are not generally so good in delivering the dream though, this is when they need help from the project teams. 

The idea of human-centred design is simple: when designing a product or service, design it for the individuals who are going to directly use or benefit from it. The dry definition from ISO is: an “approach to systems design and development that aims to make interactive systems more usable by focusing on the use of the system and applying human factors/ergonomics and usability knowledge and techniques”. [3]

So a typical human-centered design process always starts with a research. It can be a field study, a series of interviews with potential customers, a survey. Based on the results of the research, the team ideates and builds hypotheses on which solutions can and can not work. 

Based on those hypotheses prototypes are built. The goal of the prototypes is to verify the hypotheses early on, so the future process is based on evidence collected during these tests rather than someone’s individual opinions.

The main result of the process is a series of validated hypotheses around what works and doesn’t work and a deep understanding of the customer journeys: who the customers are and what they feel and think as a part of their end to end interaction with a product or service.

Journey mapping helps you visualize how customers experience your product or service, and how they feel along the way. A good process and example of how it looks like is offered by atlassian on their website. [4]

As a tool, customer journey helps the teams visualise the current state of the journey (how the customer interacts with the service today) and the future state (how the interaction will look like after the intended changes are introduced). The future state customer journey shows how the journey should look like to make the customer experience better as opposed to the dull reality of current day.

Let’s have a look at a real life example. I was told this photo is taken in Nepal, where paying electricity bills can be a nightmare - there are just a handful of offices that accept payment in cash and there is no other mainstream way to pay (if anyone from Nepal is reading it, please comment whether it is true or not? ;) ). For the sake of example let’s assume it is true.

So to pay a bill on time, people have to travel long hours just to get to the office, then wait a long queue to get to the officer who can accept the payment.

(photo credit: http://khalti.com)

The service people are interacting with is “paying a bill”: a person gives money and receives a receipt, simple as that. 

But the customer’s end to end journey is much longer, especially for people in remote mountain areas: they receive a bill in a letter, plan a date to travel to the office, organise transportation or even walk, pay the bill, receive a receipt, get home and file the receipt in a cupboard.

Steps of the journey for paying a bill

Basically, the key stages of the journey are: 

  1. get notified about the bill

  2. pay it via an appropriate payment channel

  3. get reassurance that the payment is processed

With multiple steps within each stage.

From the customer journey map perspective, for each stage of the journey we could tease out how people feel during the process, what are the key pain points and how they see the process improved. 

Customer journey map for paying a bill

All these data points inform the hypotheses backlog (remember, we talked about it above?) to start building confidence in a better future state we can offer. Once some of the hypotheses are validated, a future state version of the customer journey is created.

In the next article

So far, we have explored a method to analyse the customer and their behaviour and gain insights that can be used to develop better requirements for our products and services. This is the stage when an active requirements development comes into place. In the next article, we will discuss in detail how to use this input in requirements elicitation process.


  1. https://www.the-future-of-commerce.com/2015/04/10/commerce-trends-moving-from-things-you-sell-to-services-you-provide/

  2. https://blog.thiga.com.au/ux-design/15-impressive-figures-about-ux

  3. ISO 9241 Ergonomics of human–system interaction — Part 210: Human-centred design for interactive systems

  4. https://www.atlassian.com/team-playbook/plays/customer-journey-mapping

Author: Igor Arkhipov, Business Analysis Practice Manager

Igor holds Master of Business Informatics degree specializing in Business Process Modeling and Optimisation. Igor has broad experience as a Business Analyst and a BA Team Manager in the fields of software development, e-commerce and quality management. Igor’s current role is a BA practice manager at Isobar Australia.


If you want to learn more from Igor, sign up for Igor’s online training course on business analysis.

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axtrace posted on Wednesday, October 9, 2019 4:05 AM
How could we check the feelings? We can only suggest it from our experience?
Igor Arkhipov posted on Tuesday, November 5, 2019 6:12 AM
Hi mate,

It is hard to "check" the feelings, you are right. However, a properly designed customer interview will help you uncover the emotional reactions of your customers to different events on the customer journey.

Quite often it is as simple as asking "how did that make you feel?" or "tell me more?" after the interviewee gives your some facts. E.g.:
Interviewee: "I had to wait 3 hours in the queue!"
Interviewer: "Oh no, how did that make you feel?"
Interviewee: "Annoyed and bored.."

Another way to get to this answer:
Interviewee: "I had to wait 3 hours in the queue!"
Interviewer: "Tell me more about these 3 hours?"
Interviewee: "There isn't much to tell, it was so boring and annoying.."

So some simple techniques + active listening during the interview will help you reveal the emotional states.
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