Walt Disney: The World's First User Experience Designer


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Walt Disney was the world's first user experience designer. This presentation details some of the best practices that Walt applied in building Disneyland that can be applied to UX design. More at josephdickerson.com

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  • I'm a big fan of the Walt Disney Parks and have traveled to Walt Disney World and Disneyland several times How may of you have gone to one of the Disney parks at some point? How many have gone more than once? You have a good time? The service and experiences I receive is unparalleled and I always leave with at least one extra-special memory
  • The main reason the Disney experience is so consistently good is the same reasons that the products produced by Apple are good: a focus on quality, detail and the customer For the Walt Disney company, that focus came from the man the company is named for...
  • I consider Walt Disney the world's first user experience designer He planned to great detail Disneyland, the world's first engineered immersive experience Focused on providing exceptional immersive experiences to Disneyland visitors He obsessed over quality He also had a tremendous focused on quality, and that obsession almost led him to bankruptcy... Twice
  • Walt was also a technologist, embracing computer systems and robots long before they were mainstream... And a futurist, with ideas on how to streamline transportation and community living Ideas that were planned to be executed in the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, or EPCOT
  • There's a lot of best practices that Walt did that user experience designers should embrace and do Here's some of them…
  • Walt worked with his imagineers to come up with unique environments and experiences They always focused on giving the audience special moments they can take with them and remember A focus on providing exceptional moments helps make customers happy …and also helps create repeat customers, because our lizard brains are wired to remember bad experiences more than good ones. It’s part of the evolutionary process... If you almost die when you do something, you’ll remember it. That’s why we try and recapture moments and memories. because they will want to relive or recapture that moment
  • Walt was never satisfied with the work his team, known as Imagineers, did He always asked for more, always pushed his design team to bring more to the table He called this "plussing," and imagine if all designers and developers did this… It wasn't "adding more stuff," which so many companies do It was about making a good experience better… It was making sure the sound effects in the Pirates of the Caribbean was loud enough to rattle the ride participants... It was making sure that the Tiki Birds were able to have dozens of different gestures, not just ten... It was making sure the animatronic Lincoln sounded historically accurate... It was aspirational, and the right thing to do
  • I’m going to get off on a tangent...
  • The thing about these new technologies is, whether they get widespread adoption and use or not, they are not going away. People are going to get used to these systems and way of doing things and in many instances they begin to expect them. This is called the KANO model, used in product development... You always have to keep up with user expectations... Refining and improving and adjusting. Walt knew that before anyone
  • There’s an incredibly innovative thing that Walt did The HUB Provided choice - user control and freedom Walt didn't design one different locale with the original Disneyland, he made four each with a different theme and different experiences This variety attracted more customers Also, people could stay in one "land" for an entire visit or quickly jump from one place to the other using the "hub" It may seem obvious today, but it had never been done before Walt did it
  • He made his imagineers focus on the details... the little things that many people don’t notice. Because he did it to make the experience as immersive and real as possible for everyone - visitors or workers to the park An immersive experience is an detailed authentic one. Now, this is not saying “be a perfectionist”...
  • The grand opening of Disneyland was a disaster in many respects They ran out of food, rides broke down... The asphalt sidewalks had not finished curing in many places Instead of yelling at people and doing nothing (though I'm pretty sure there was some yelling) Walt met with his team, did a postmortem, and fixed the problems
  • As previously noted, Walt sunk a tremendous amount of his own money in two projects A full-length animated film called Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs The Disneyland theme park Both projects brought him to the brink of losing it all, and both projects were huge successes
  • Walt sent friends and family on rides like Jungle Cruise before they opened, to elicit feedback and fine tune the experience. He also did the same thing for it’s a small world... so he was kind of a sadist. This is the point where everyone one of you will now have that song in your head. Earworm It's exactly what we do as user experience professionals... And he did it 50 years ago Follow his lead
  • Walt surrounded himself with incredibly talented people and let them do their thing... Though he approved almost all the details, he knew that he needed top-notch people to execute his vision and to bring their own perspective to the table
  • This is Marty Sklar, one of the original Imagineers... and when it comes to designing experiences he worked closely with Walt and at a conference in 1987 he revealed to the world what he had documented what he called Mickey’s 10 commandments As I step through all of them, You will see a lot of principles that you can apply to any UX design project.
  • 1. Know your audience – This is core absolutely necessary in UX design, as without a deep understanding of your users you can’t create a solution that solves their problems or adds value to their lives. 2. Wear your guest’s shoes – Such an approach increases the empathy that your design team has for your users, making the designs you create more appropriate and helpful. 3. Organize the flow of people and ideas – Storytelling is a vitally important skill in UX, not just in explaining how you ended up with the final design solution to stakeholders, but also in your designs themselves if you are trying to explain an offering to new customers.
  • 4. Create a ‘weenie’ – Very good advice, and when designing a “stepped” process users have to follow a ‘weenie’ will result in lower abandon rates and increased customer satisfaction. 5. Communicate with visual literacy – We are currently having a big debate in the UX design community about skeumorphism (the use of real world visual metaphors in a user experience) and this commandment aligns with the argument advocating such an approach. Skeumorphism done well helps people learn new experiences because of the visual cues that remind them of real-world metaphors reflected in the design. Of course, skeumorphism done badly is… well, pretty awful and unhelpful. 6. Avoid overload – Cognitive overload is one of the major issues that can occur when a UI is “overdesigned” with too many options. This commandment is great advice to avoid that type of situation.
  • 7. Tell one story at a time – This is Information Architecture 101, and it is direction like this that convinces me that Walt was the world’s first use experience designer. 8. Avoid contradiction – Walt thought about “branding” before most people even knew what the term meant. Amazing. 10. Keep it up – Less applicable to UX design, but an absolute golden rule when it comes to process and service design. Always do your best, follow your process and deliver quality.
  • Desirable experiences GFamification 9. For every ounce of treatment , provide a ton of fun –
  • Before we finish up, I want to share with you something I consider a final key to the kingdom Walt was a master showman a video clip from another master showman
  • Wonka clip Surprise and delight... if you can give your user surprise and delight, they will keep coming back for more. He designed this experience, and knew what the reaction will be
  • Walt very famously said that he wanted Disneyland to never be finished, that he wanted it to evolve and grow over time He said the key is to always keep moving forward, to make the good better... To continue to improve things This isn't just a great philosophy for user experience professionals to develop, but for all of us to strive for: Keep moving forward
  • Shameless plug #2
  • Walt Disney: The World's First User Experience Designer

    1. 1. Walt Disney:The WorldsFirst UserExperienceDesigner@JosephDickersonFriday, May 24, 13
    2. 2. Introduction@JosephDickersonFriday, May 24, 13
    3. 3. Focus on• Quality• Detail• CustomerHow Disney parksdeliver exceptionalexperiences@JosephDickersonFriday, May 24, 13
    4. 4. Walt Disney,User Experience pioneer@JosephDickersonFriday, May 24, 13
    5. 5. @JosephDickersonFriday, May 24, 13
    6. 6. @JosephDickersonFriday, May 24, 13
    7. 7. “Design like Walt did"@JosephDickersonFriday, May 24, 13
    8. 8. Focus onthe moment @JosephDickersonFriday, May 24, 13
    9. 9. Always be"plussing" @JosephDickersonFriday, May 24, 13
    10. 10. @JosephDickersonFriday, May 24, 13
    11. 11. Delighters“Baseline”Satisfiers@JosephDickersonFriday, May 24, 13
    12. 12. Provideoptions@JosephDickersonFriday, May 24, 13
    13. 13. details matter@JosephDickersonFriday, May 24, 13
    14. 14. Fix things thatdont work@JosephDickersonFriday, May 24, 13
    15. 15. TakerisksWalt could havelost everything...more than once.@JosephDickersonFriday, May 24, 13
    16. 16. Test, refine...then test again@JosephDickersonFriday, May 24, 13
    17. 17. Hire smart people@JosephDickersonFriday, May 24, 13
    18. 18. Set standards@JosephDickersonFriday, May 24, 13
    19. 19. Mickey’s 10Commandments• Know your audienceDont bore people, talkdown to them or losethem by assuming thatthey know what youknow• Wear your guestsshoesInsist that designers, staffand your board membersexperience your facilityas visitors as often aspossible@JosephDickersonFriday, May 24, 13
    20. 20. Mickey’s 10Commandments• Create a “weenie”Lead visitors from onearea to another bycreating visual indicatorsand giving visitorsrewards for making thejourney• Communicate withvisual literacyMake good use of all thenon-verbal ways ofcommunication - color,shape, form, texture.@JosephDickersonFriday, May 24, 13
    21. 21. Mickey’s 10Commandments• Organize the flow ofpeople and ideas -Use good storytellingtechniques, tell goodstories not lectures, layout what you design witha clear logic• Avoid overload - Resistthe temptation to tell toomuch, to have too manyobjects, dont forcepeople to swallow morethan they can digest, tryto stimulate and provideguidance to those whowant more@JosephDickersonFriday, May 24, 13
    22. 22. • Tell one story at atimeIf you have a lot ofinformation divide it intodistinct, logical,organized stories, sopeople can absorb andretain information moreclearly• Avoid contradictionClear institutionalidentity helps give you thecompetitive edge - Publicneeds to know who youare and whatdifferentiates you fromother institutions theymay have seen@JosephDickersonMickey’s 10CommandmentsFriday, May 24, 13
    23. 23. Mickey’s 10Commandments• For every ounce oftreatment, provide aton of funGive people plenty ofopportunity to enjoythemselves byemphasizing ways thatlet people participate inthe experience and bymaking yourenvironment rich andappealing to all senses• Keep it upNever underestimate theimportance ofcleanliness and routinemaintenance, peopleexpect to get a goodshow every time, peoplewill comment more onbroken and dirty stuff.@JosephDickersonFriday, May 24, 13
    24. 24. Some GREAT ideas...use them@JosephDickersonFriday, May 24, 13
    25. 25. @JosephDickersonFriday, May 24, 13
    26. 26. @JosephDickersonFriday, May 24, 13
    27. 27. closing@JosephDickersonFriday, May 24, 13
    28. 28. @JosephDickersonFriday, May 24, 13
    29. 29. KEEP MOVING FORWARDDesign the future.@JosephDickersonFriday, May 24, 13
    30. 30. Thanks, Walt.@JosephDickersonFriday, May 24, 13
    31. 31. My book on UX isavailable in paperback,for the kindle and on theiPadiPad edition is FREE@JosephDickersonFriday, May 24, 13
    32. 32. http://www.josephdickerson.com@josephdickersonFriday, May 24, 13