Designing People-Centered Experiences / Fall 2016

Assignment Overview

Observing and Documenting Experiences Exercise

Due: Friday 26 August
Submit via Canvas
HER-V 400 | Fall 2016
Instructor: Aaron Ganci and
Helen Sanematsu


Have a brief experience and document it.

Phase 1: Have and Observe an Experience

In this quick exercise, you will form teams of three (3) and practice observing and documenting an experience. In your teams, identify one person that will undergo an experience using the prompts below (or something similar). The other two members of the team are responsible for observing the experience to the best of their ability and documenting its parts in usable way. Conduct this experiment within 45 minutes.

When you are done, return to the studio and we will go through the process of unpacking the experience in order to create a rough experience map.

Potential Experiences:

  • Acquire an object that you think will help you this semester
  • getting some cash
  • crossing New York St
  • meeting with a prof
  • getting a locker
  • buying a healthy drink
  • find facilities staff after spilling something
  • find a recycling container outside
  • secure a bike
  • bike rental

Phase 2: Documentation

Once you have a rough, analog map, you will practice translating it into a digital format. Between Wednesday and Friday’s class sessions, you will move your map onto the computer and bring it in for a group discussion. This should be a divergent process. Explore different document sizes, colors, type sizes, etc to see what does and doesn’t work. Bring printed drafts on Friday, when we will learn from each other’s explorations.

Learning Outcomes

At the end of this exercise, you will be able to:

  • Discuss the complexity and challenges of observing an experience
  • Draft a plan to observe and document more experiences
  • Create a simple experience map to describe the alignment between the experience’s parts
  • Discuss how a person’s goals relate to their interpretation of an experience
  • Set up a digital file to formalize an experience map (understand document size, formats, etc.)


Draft of a map (printed)


This exercise will not be graded. We are doing it to help ease you into experience mapping. The more effort you put into this exercise, the easier it will be for you to jump into the first assignment.