With unlimited content at our fingertips and countless screens beaconing for our attention, building engaging experiences is no easy task. Yet, so often, in pursuit of capturing the "new," creators can overlook some of the fundamental principles of human behavior and psychology that have shaped our experiences for thousands of years. So today, we look to one of the world's all-time experiential experts for three tips to take your digital experience from space bar to space mountain.
3 Tips to Improve User Experience, The Disney Way
#1: Wear Your Guest's Shoes
Walt Disney insisted that his Imagineers (the visionaries that helped create the Disneyland experience) visit the park once a week as guests. The purpose was to experience what the park is like in visitors' shoes and keep that frame of reference fresh and fluid as they approached new ideas and solutions for the future.
In a world of emails and JIRA tickets, it can be easy to forget the person behind the user. Having the project team (designers, engineers, project managers, etc.) review sites through the lens of the person we're trying to engage can get teams into our customer's "shoes" and imagine the experience beyond our individual roles and departments, ensuring a "customer-centric" point of view throughout the project.
#2: Organize the Flow of People and Ideas Into Stories
We trust, engage emotionally, and remember things when they are in narrative format. Marty Skylar, an Imagineer at Disneyland, knew this better than anyone. He ensured the line was never just a line but instead the beginning of an experience that climaxed later on the ride (spikes and moving rocks experience in line for the Temple of Doom Indiana Jones ride, for example.) We're not suggesting your website needs skeletons with swords per se. Still, we need to ensure that we are contributing to a continuous connected experience that connects a user to a bigger narrative/story with every click and scroll. It's also important to look for opportunities to surprise and delight our audience in unexpected ways. For example, when filling out a form or a quiz, we can use an unexpected question or animated gif to transform some of our mundane experiences into fun moments.
#3: Avoid Overload
Disneyland wants to create an immersive experience but doesn't want to overload its guests with too much info or choices at the same time - taking away from the fundamental goal, which is a fun, memorable experience with the family. Imagineer John Hench described the process as follows, "When we come to a point in the park that we know is a decision point, we put two choices. We try not to give [guests] seven or eight so that they have to decide which is the best of those qualitatively. So you give them two." Minimizing the cognitive overload is excellent for online experiences as well. Too much is, well, too much, and clicking to a new website is easier than leaving a theme park (did someone say exit rate?), making this rule even more important than ever in the digital space.
Let's be honest, our next website likely won't be as exciting and engaging as "The Happiest Place on Earth," but by using some of Disneyland's tried and true principles of great human interaction, we can all put a little more magic in our digital moments. Ready to reimagine your new website with us?
Interested to learn more about user digital experience? Contact us today.
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