As the pandemic continues to spark fear in event professionals across the globe, finding ways to create engaging experiences for audience members has never been more important.
While we were trending towards the return of in-person events, the future of events is still largely up in the air with new COVID variants continuing to force teams to wait and see. Regardless, audience engagement is a priority, and experience design is continuing to increase in popularity.
It might be time to start working on your experience design as part of your overall plan. According to Forbes:
"In the past, corporate events were filled with plaid rugs, name badges, and PowerPoints. In today's hyper-driven world with the always-on media, the most renowned live experiences require marketers to bring a heartbeat to the arena unlike ever before."
The same can be said for digital experiences, too. At this point, it’s crucial to master experience design and why it matters to you as an event professional, and this guide can help get you started.
What is Experience Design?
Experience design is a concept that uses the target persona's experience to design an event as well as the highlights of your products, events, and environment. When using experience design, the event planner always keeps the attendees' feelings, needs, and overall mindset at the forefront of the planning process.
This process can be a little easier and more successful for event planners for conferences. Forbes explains it succinctly below:
"Marketers can transform educational sessions from passive to active experiences. And they can radically shift how attendees absorb information from these events to use in their daily lives."
Using the company's current customer pool, the event planner can begin designing an experience based on their age, gender, and general interests. If the pool is primarily women in their mid-20s to early 30s, the experience is much different from one that would please a group of men in their 50s.
With the customer in mind, the event planner needs to define the specific goals of the event. The experience for the guests needs to drive them to fulfill the goals of the company.
At a conference or a digital event, the customer is going to have an experience. The theory behind experience design is that the event planner creates the experience that drives a customer to meet the goals of the event itself. The customer interacts with the products and brand in a positive way that drives sales or generates new leads.
Creating an experience design will affect all aspects of the business, and it takes the attendees' thoughts and feelings into account. For the person attending the event, it should feel cohesive and organic to achieve the desired results.
Designing Experiences Within an Event
It's essential to always remember that the event or conference is for the attendees, and everything needs to be designed with them in mind and how it will drive them to meet the goals of the event. By designing experiences and focusing on the attendee, the company can improve its engagement metrics.
Engaged attendees often result in lead generation, revenue growth, and brand awareness. When the event planner starts to think about the conference in terms of experience, it becomes easier to create one that appeals to the largest number of conference-goers.
Here are a few experiences to consider as part of your design:
With a workshop, it's a good idea to teach the attendees something by letting them practice it. This makes it more of an experience than a lecture. A hands-on workshop is a great way to engage the customer, especially if it's something they're interested in learning.
Everyone loves the chance to meet or hear from celebrities and industry leaders. Celebrity appearances can make attendees more excited and engaged with the conference. It's always a good idea to ensure that the celebrity works in the same industry when possible.
Networking is an integral part of any event or conference. It's essential that there are plenty of opportunities for the attendees to meet and exchange information. This is also an opportunity for the company to generate leads.
Great Technology Interaction
Whether it's a digital event or an in-person conference, technology integration is a must. The platform for digital events needs to make the most of technology with digital keynotes and other events, while in-person conferences can incorporate a variety of technology.
UX vs. XD
User Experience (UX) and Experience Design (XD) are not the same things, although you might hear them used interchangeably. UX is the work that a company does to improve a product or service so that it's easier and more enjoyable for the customer. It improves the experience that the client has with the product.
XD is a broader area. It deals with how customers interact with the brand and creates memories and emotions that customers take with them centering on the product or brand.
The goal of both UX and XD is to build brand loyalty and generate revenue. However, UX deals with the functionality of the product. You want the product to look nice and be easy to use, but ultimately, it's about the function of the product.
XD wants to create emotion and memories that the user creates to keep them bonded to the product or the brand in the case of a conference or event. For example, the chance to spend a day with your favorite celebrity might spur you to interact with a brand, because the experience would bring a lifetime of fond memories.
"In practical terms, the user experience design umbrella encompasses visual design, information architecture, usability, interaction design, user research, and content strategy."
While the UX works with only one or two of the senses, the XD wants to tantalize all of them. XD is more immersive, and the attendee should feel like they're a part of your brand too.
Boost Your Experience Design
At Impact Point Group, we're experts at helping businesses up their experience design ability. If you have questions or need to arrange help, contact us today.