Experience Design:
From theory to practice

by Zeno Kapitein
June 20204950 words

This essay explores the field of Experience Design: what it is, how to practice it, and what tools and techniques to use.

It consists of two parts: Theory and Practice. In Theory, the fundamentals of Experience Design are explored from an academic perspective. Practice details the various models, tools and techniques that have been used in one such Experience Design project during my time at Hyper Island.

  1. 1

    What is Experience Design

    1. Living Experiences
    2. Understanding Experiences
    3. Designing Experiences
    4. Ethics of Experience Design
    5. Experience Design Processes
  2. 2

    Processes, Tools & Techniques

    1. The Process in Practice
    2. Concrete Problem: Exploring the context
    3. Abstract Problem: Defining insights & opportunities
    4. Abstract Solution: Developing ideas & experiments
    5. Concrete Solution: Making & testing


To exist is to experience. Experience is how we sense, feel and think about the world around us, how we recall our past, and how we define ourselves. Experience is continuous and ever-present, only to be influenced, never to be made.

Experience design, then, is the glue that holds the other disciplines together, much like how experience holds life together. The role of the experience designer is that of a director, moving set-pieces and writing the script – but it's up to the user to act out the scene.

The experience designer is also an interpreter: translating the client's problem into the user's situation, the user's situation into an opportunity, and that opportunity back into the client's language. Solving the puzzle will never become easy – no matter how many models get made to describe it, the practice will always differ from the theory. But so long as you keep an open mind, dig in, and really listen to what's needed, it might just become natural.

Because in the end, there's nothing more natural than our experience of the world. We just have to listen.

Reference List


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  • Coxon, I. (2015). Fundamental Aspects of Human Experience: A Phenomeno(logical) Explanation. In: P. Benz, ed., Experience Design: Concepts and Case Studies. London: Bloomsbury Academic.
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Trade Magazines

Trusted Sources

Personal Communications & Workshops

  • Callaghan, C. (2020). Pretotyping. [Workshop].
  • Duque, A.K. (2020). How to Design Research.
  • Kendall, M. (2020). On Experience Design. [Interview].
  • Mosely, R. (2020). Decision Making & Priorities Workshop. [Online Workshop].
  • Young, A. (2020). Methodologies as a Recipe. [Personal Communication].

Generated Project Resources (for Client)

  • Goh, W. and Kapitein, Z. (2020). Up2U Final Prototype. [online] Framer Prototype. Available at: https://bit.ly/Use-Up2U [Accessed 19 Jun. 2020].
  • Goh, W., Kapitein, Z., Matulevic, W. and Yamashita, K. (2020). Up2U Handover Package. [online] Google Docs. Available at: https://bit.ly/Up2U-Handover-Pack [Accessed 19 Jun. 2020].
  • Goh, W., Kapitein, Z., Matulevic, W. and Yamashita, K. (2020b). Up2U Probotype Data. [online] Miro. Available at: https://bit.ly/Simulator-Takeaways [Accessed 19 Jun. 2020].
  • Goh, W., Kapitein, Z., Matulevic, W. and Yamashita, K. (2020b). Up2U Research Summary. [online] Miro. Available at: https://bit.ly/UC-Research [Accessed 19 Jun. 2020].
  • Kapitein, Z. (2020). Shopping Experience Simulator. [online] Framer Prototype. Available at: https://bit.ly/Shopping-Experience-Simulator [Accessed 19 Jun. 2020].

Thank you for reading!

Made ✨ by Zeno Kapitein