Home > Interaction Design > Designing for Meaningful Experience – Nathan Shedroff

Designing for Meaningful Experience – Nathan Shedroff

A colleague of mine recently conveyed what I thought was a very powerful approach to product design and brand building – that is, to “align to broad human virtues”, which he credited as being inspired by Tara Hunt.

Then on the weekend, I stumbled across a video presentation by Nathan Shedroff, delivered at Interaction10, titled Meaningful Innovation relies on INteraction and Service Design, which can be viewed below:

[Vimeo 9659499]

Here’s the slide presentation that accompanies the video.

Shedroff is interested in what makes for meaningful experiences that people have in their world. First, he offers his definition of meaning:

Meaning is the deepest connection that you can make with your audience/user/customer. Meaning is established between people, between people and objects, people and places, etc., and it is the deepest part of those invisible connections.

However, you can’t really talk about “meaning” in this context, without talking about experience. In fact, Shedroff defines Design as “the process of making experiences”. So, it’s the understanding of Experience that we’ll turn to next.

Exploring Experience

Shedroff discusses a framework for experience that has 6 dimensions, shown below:

The dimension Shedroff focuses on in his talk is the Significance dimension, which encompasses the consideration of meaning in the experience. Here’s a slide from Shedroff’s presentation that positions Meaning at the heart of the Significance dimension:

Shedroff comments:

[The Significance dimension] moves from Features/Performance into Price, which are fairly shallow connections, right? … And this makes a lot of sense. If your business is about lowest price like Walmart, you may have a lot of appreciation from your customer, but you don’t have a lot of loyalty. Because what happens when the store next door has an even lower price? That’s where they go.

But once you move into these deeper levels, that’s where we build customer loyalty, that’s where we get the type of experiences and connections that are much harder for competitors to take from us.

Core Meanings

Shedroff has found 15 core meanings that are universal – everyone in the world understands what they are and what they mean. These meanings are listed in the slide below:

The challenge, however, is that different people prioritize and express these meanings differently.

Shedroff encourages people to ask the following questions:

  1. What are the top 5 meanings for your organization?
  2. What are the top 5 meanings for yourself (or team)?
  3. What are the top 5 meanings for your customer?

That is really cool I think.

Finally, Shedroff’s presentation explores the positioning of a few selected companies in terms of the meanings they represent – Apple, Nike, and Disney. Below is the slide for Apple:

In conclusion …

Pretty interesting stuff for a guy new to Marketing and Product positioning. It certainly speaks to me.


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