In February, I took on Denver, Colorado and attended the Experience Design 2020 conference. It was an information-packed three days that left me with various new techniques to bring back to the agency and share with our UX and Design Thinking teams.

I had the opportunity to hear from 20 different speakers over the course of three days. The first day was a pre-conference day that had a four-part customer journey workshop and the two main conference days consisted of keynote speakers and breakout sessions.

As I walked away from the Experience Design 2020 conference, there were a few concepts that really stuck with me, and I’ll touch on each of them throughout this article:

  • Internal and external collaboration is key
  • Strive to break barriers
  • Experience design can be so much more

Internal and External Collaboration is Key

I think we can all agree that progress and steps in the right direction can only be made when everyone involved is on the same page and in agreeance. For some, there may be difficulty in creating collaboration between internal teams, like UX and IT, and for others, the difficulty lies between agency and client collaboration.

Here are some key ideas I brought home with me when it comes to collaboration.

Go Where the Love is and Fall in Love with the Problem

In attempt to push your cause forward, whether that be your new project, recommended updates, etc., connect with people who want to be part of the process. You’ll create a team of people who want to fix the problem, which drives better results.

Radical Collaboration

This idea is true for both internal and external collaboration. As I mentioned before, progress is only made when everyone is on the same page. That’s why you need to bring different people together to brainstorm and drive different results. When you bring people outside of your circle to the table, you’ll find that beautiful ideas can be created.

This is true for agency and client relations as well. Involving your client as much as possible throughout the entire process can create a better relationship between the teams and spark creativity. Think of ways to make meetings and brainstorming sessions more interactive — quick prototyping sessions, strategy sessions, campaign brainstorms, audience targeting, and more.

Show, Don’t Tell

As much as we love to put together a presentation to talk about the problem, that’s actually a problem within the problem right there! Instead of trying to tell the client or stakeholder what the problem is, show them.

A perfect example is usability testing. Chances are, if you’ve done your research, you already have some type of recording of your interface or interaction with the service, and audio to accompany the actions. Show THAT to decision makers to provide a sense of proof that the problem really is a problem.

Do you conduct customer interviews? If so, talk about it! Pull in quotes and create themes. That will help create a visual picture that includes your customer base and the impact the issue at hand has on the business and experience around the brand.

Bias Towards Action

It’s time to embrace failure! Fail fast and fail inexpensively.

The best time to fail fast is during your brainstorming time. A concept that was shared at the conference was to not spend more than 20 minutes on the first draft of something (depending on the task at hand) and raise the white flag if you need to talk it out with someone. Don’t spend time running in circles. Take a step back and let a pair of fresh eyes take a look and brainstorm together to keep moving forward.

Strive to Break Barriers

We’ve all heard of Walmart, right? Do you know what they’re doing in the Health Care space? Spoiler alert! They’re making health care accessible to everyone.

I had the opportunity to hear how Walmart partnered with Mofi, a consumer-design consultant organization that “disrupts” the status quo, and rolled out the first two Walmart Health locations in Georgia. Over a six-month period, Mofi and Walmart collected quantitative and qualitative data from 28,000 customers, analyzed all of responses, and actually created a mock health center which they brought participants in to test everything from the check-in process, to the layout of the building and the examination rooms.

The design process for this entire project was centered around the customer. Right when the customer checks in, they’re greeted by a Registered Nurse or Physician’s Assistant, who doesn’t leave the customer’s side until they are taken back to the examination room.

In the end, Walmart and Mofi came to an agreement that customers will go to Walmart Health for the price, but they’ll continue to come back for the quality of care they’re receiving. At the time of the presentation, Walmart Health locations were booked five weeks out for dental services and they were making efforts in trying to add more dental bay space to the locations. After opening their first health center locations, Walmart’s Net Promoter Score, which is the likelihood of a customer to recommend your business to others, went up 20%.

The key takeaway here is that you don’t have to stay in your lane. With experience design, you can take an idea and craft an incredible result. Take the time to collaborate, brainstorm, test, fail, and succeed. Break barriers.

Experience Design Can Be So Much More

When you think of experience design, what do you think of? Do you think of how customers interact with your product or service? Do you think about your brand perception and how that emulates into your product or service? Do you think about the motivations behind your customer base or their life experiences? If you’re not thinking on the broader end of the scale, it’s time to make your way there.

Let’s dive into Under Armour for a moment. They have an app called MapMyRun. But did you know that they’ve now created a Bluetooth running shoe that connects with MapMyRun to provide real-time coaching and advanced metrics like stride and cadence? Talk about creating a whole new experience.

Under Armour has now taken their customer experience outside of the e-commerce funnel. They’ve widened their horizons into basically their customer’s personal lives. Taglines they use to market the UA HOVR™ shoe include “meet your new run coach” and “unlock a running experience like no other.”

The concept of providing real-time coaching plays into their customer’s motivations and emotions. The shoe and app tracks cadence and stride, and can help runners perfect their form, which can make running feel easier and reduce risk of injury from impact.

Experience design can be so much more when you think of ideas past the point of purchase and adopt a customer-centric design process.


This recap covered the tip of the iceberg when it comes to all of the learnings from the Experience Design 2020 conference, and experience design in general. I’m excited to keep expanding my knowledge and to apply everything I learned from the conference to our work here at Zion & Zion.