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Design flaws in everyday experiences

When I think of creating great experiences, I think of two primary things: 1) Disney rides and 2) the concept of the not-so-big house.

In both cases, we see the drive to create experiences that aren’t just acceptable but that are vastly superior. These experiences consider not only functional aspects but also the sensory connections. Let’s take a closer look.

Disney rides

Compare a ride/attraction at a Disney theme park to any ol’ ride at an amusement park. The Disney ride almost certainly starts the ride experience at the very beginning of the queue. At an amusement park, you are lucky to get some loose theme with the ride which translates to maybe a color scheme that you start to see at the beginning of the queue for the ride. There is no storytelling here like a Disney ride would have. Disney focuses on the overall experience. I think they also see a “design flaw” in the ride experience. They know their customers don’t like to wait in line…that just stinks. But to start telling the story, engage the customer, and start that ride experience from the very moment their customers get in line, well that solves that “waiting” flaw and spins it into an overall positive experience from start to finish. Think about it…how often have you stood in line for a roller coaster for like 2 hrs…sometimes in the heat around smelly and loud people, and then when you finally get on the ride, it’s over in 2 1/2 minutes! Now really, was that a good experience? If it wasn’t for the endorphines powering you past all that miserable waiting you did, you’d have to say it wasn’t worth it. But a Disney ride attempts to completely eliminate any misery of the wait by throwing you into the experience at the get-go so that your ride experience seems more lasting and fulfilling. For a Disney ride, it doesn’t stop there…I mean I could go on more about the ride itself and the thoughtfulness and detail that goes into that part of the experience, but I’ll save that for later.

The Not So Big House, Sarah SusankaNot so big house

Some of you may have heard of the Not So Big House concept. I strongly believe that this has existed in architecture for quite some time–Frank Lloyd Wright had to have played a big part here in standardizing this concept in his designs–though it was Sarah Susanka who championed the concept and coined the “not-so-big” approach to architecting and designing a home. She challenges the concept of the cookie-cutter home or the McMansion. She suggests designing a home around your lifestyle and family needs and to de-emphasis square footage so that you can maximize quality of construction and living. She’s all about defining an everyday living experience that you can truly enjoy rather than creating a big home with wasted space and poor construction just because folks think they need large homes to house their large families. In the end, the McMansion suffers from character, craftsmanship, and comfort which overall represents a pretty poor living experience. To the defense of those who live in McMansions, developers tend to buy up land and then build as many McMansions on the land as cheaply as possible to maximize profits. Folks looking to buy homes in competitive housing markets often have no choice but to buy into a McMansion because they are unable to find an older home (and perhaps one that is close to work) that provides comparable specs as the McMansions do. So there’s more going on here socially, but I really just wanted to use McMansions to show the contrast in a living experience.

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