Karoline Kwon // August 22 2017

Drawing out emotional experiences

I live to express myself, but sometimes my own words betray me. It can be so frustrating when you feel misinterpreted, misunderstood, or things get lost in translation. There are also times you simply don’t know how to explain a situation or lack the right vocabulary. It reminds me of a time when I was hunting for bugs in a UI, it went something like this:
“Omg, huge bug. When you click that [link name] and it should go to [link page] it turns into a page seizure! It’s blinking like crazy and I don’t know how to kill it!! Fix pls.”
The reason why I couldn’t express myself exactly how I wanted to is because I don’t speak “tech”, the same way as developers do. Not to mention, I didn’t really know why something was broken at the time, but just that it was.

This is something you often find when dealing with different sides of a service. There’s the internal side that knows their own processes and reasons why things are the way they are, then you have the individuals experiencing the service thinking “where is the logic to this?!”. So how to get these two sides on the same track? I personally like to use the power of visualisations and storyboards. Drawing out a scenario or a journey helps me communicate and support service concepts and strategies, and aligns two complex sides in an engaging way.



Setting the Scene

A powerful asset that visualisations can provide is setting an up the scene which includes the environment, actors and interactions. Sometimes where the service happens can greatly affect how it can be experienced. An image can effectively summarise the situation of what is happening at a moment in time of your service, with whom and any touchpoints which may be involved.



Point of Reference

As I mentioned earlier about the difficulties in lacking a shared language, visualisations greatly help bridge this gap by creating tangibility and a point of reference. When you show the journey or situation to stakeholders with visualisations, it provides a better idea of the service concept and a physical artefact to refer to and comment on. Having visual references also relieves the tension of getting too stuck on details or terminology, instead they help create a holistic experience of the service as a story or journey.



Memory Aid

When you have a visual aid alongside supportive text, the user goes into “Flash card mode”. I found many individuals begin to associate different actors or environment to a situation and it helps them remember what we were discussing along with who were discussing about. As well, this is useful in explaining terms, like a visual glossary. It can also emphasize important moments of a service such as accidents or special events.



Empathy and Engagement

Emotions or feelings are crucial in experiences. They define what is pleasurable, painful or confusing. A lot of the times, they express much more than words and can be felt differently throughout a service. Unfortunately, these emotions are not always acknowledged to decision makers as they do not directly face customers and experience them first hand. However, being in touch with these emotions creates a deeper sense of empathy. Visualizing these reactions, expressions and scenarios helps recreate the empathy for service designers and providers to get a look into the customer’s perspective and feelings. When you draw out the emotional experience, it helps capture the big picture and remember that services are dealing with real people.


Go out and draw!

There are so many ways I use drawings to enhance my work as a Service Designer. Not only do I enjoy bringing these personalities and service concepts to life, but it’s also one of my unique skills that support my work and communication style. Service Designers come from such diverse backgrounds which makes the field so exciting for me. As it grows, different methods and tools are born, just like our Service Sandbox, and bring out the range of diversity in skillsets. From business, tech, product and media, Service Designers are an eclectic bunch! If you’re a Service Designer and have your own nifty skill that makes you unique, please feel free to comment on this blog! Knowledge sharing is caring.

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