Is your objective to leave others feeling enlightened, proud, and energized?  What 3 or 4 words would you select?  This is a pretty basic question.  After others encounter you or your business, how do want them to leave feeling?

I was recently in a final planning session before a major client meeting.  Colleagues had flown in from around the world to be there.  We were gathered to finalize a presentation for that afternoon.  As is often the case, we had a lot more material than we would have time to cover.  As we tackled the time problem, it was clear that we needed criteria for deciding what would stay and what would be dropped.

How did we want them to feel?  We took a few minutes and wrestled with the feelings we wanted the client to have at the very end of the meeting.  We decided on confident, engaged and excited.  With these as our targets, it was much easier to decide what content would be presented and what would be dropped.

In the world of experience design, this is often referred to as the design motif. It is starting with how you want others to feel as they depart.  Several years ago, I was part of a team re-designing an Emergency Room experience.  We could have designed for speed and efficiency, but instead spoke to patients and caregivers about their ER experiences and what drove their choices.  The results directed the entire design.  They were seeking three feelings: reassurance (Should I have come to the ER or waited?), empathy (Will these people care about me or my loved one?) and connection (Will we just be a number or will they connect with us on a human level?)

This simple technique of beginning with the “end in mind” can help define choices and can quickly eliminate the items that just don’t fit your motif.  Over the years I created a collection cards to describe potential feelings … one word/feeling per card.  At some point in the process, I sort the cards into three piles.  One pile for those cards with feelings that I do NOT want to generate.  One pile for the “maybes”, and the final pile for those feeling that I DO want to generate.  My objective is to get the final pile down to just 3-4 feelings and design to these.

  • How do you want others to feel after they encounter you or your business? 
  • What words do you suspect they use now?