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What Is Human Experience Design?

Photo by The New York Public Library on Unsplash

Business is an integral part of the human experience. Since the first caveperson traded some beads for a bit of mammoth, and then arbitraged it for a new atlatl, there has been business.

Since there has been business which meets essential needs there have been people drawn together into groups — villages, towns and then to cities. Business is one of the key building-blocks of society.

Business is a major part of all our lives. Societies cannot run without businesses, just as families cannot function apart from the resources that businesses provide.

Business is as to human life and flourishing as eating right is to health. You can’t have one without the other.

Therefore, just as human societies are rooted in strong human relationships, businesses are equally relational by nature. Humans cannot survive apart from relationships with other humans.

Moreover, businesses cannot function without marketing. How else would Og the Atlatl-Maker™ get the word out that a pound of mammoth can buy a new atlatl (spears extra)?

In our contemporary, techno-capitalist environment we have slowly, but surely, divorced the relational aspect from business. Particularly in how we market businesses today, we focus on the measurable and quantifiable excluding the qualitative (mushy) relational experience. We are too often laser-focused on metrics rather than the person at the other end of the mouse, smartphone or VR goggles.

Not so long ago we would have dealt directly with our customer, who knew us and probably our family-members by name. We met their needs eye-to-eye, as fellow humans with a “How’s your day?” and a sales-winning smile.

Today, the machines and algorithms have replaced what was truly human in business marketing and operations. Eventually, like the vanishing cashiers at Walmart, we are interacting with fewer and fewer like-minded humans.

And, society is the poorer for it.

I have been a designer for more than 30 years now, and a website-developer for around 28 of them. I have been saturated in technology since I first learned how to program a game on a Commodore PET, and have been in marketing my whole adult life as a designer.

I also took on a second career for about 11 of those years doing design part-time while serving as a hospice and hospital chaplain. In my M.Div counseling training and my work with people experiencing all the drama and trauma of life and death, I have seen first-hand the importance of good human relationships.

Particularly relevant to me today, as I am now working full-time in marketing and technology again, the relationships people have with so many others in their places of business has been striking. I recall many, many times at the bedsides of loved-ones passing into the Great Beyond that many of the people touched by those passing have been the people involved in business with them. Workmates, customers, employees and employers all have been a huge part of that person’s life and are truly family to them.

These people are a major part of who they are as human beings.

So, how dare we treat people like mere consumers, numbers on a dashboard chart or spreadsheet?

We have the technology and tools to bring people together just as well as separating them into profitable market segments. It may take much more thought and intention to do this, and may not be as profitable in the short-term, but the long-term societal benefits are enormous.

So, let’s use that technology and those digital marketing tools in ways that enhance the human experience and make our journey on this globe more meaningful. We can do this!

This is what I mean by Human Experience Design.