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Janet Bewell
Janet Bewell

Akendi Alumnus

Creating “Certified” Experiences

Have you ever watched a movie or read a book that was incredibly painful but in the end left you with such good dinner conversation that the pain of getting to there was worth it?  That is how I felt when I watched “Certified Copy”, a film by Abbas Kiarostami, starring Juliette Binoche and William Shimell.

The premise of the film is to present two arguments, for and against, of whether you can truly experience something in the moment, without the need for background information to establish intent.

The film begins with a discussion around the Mona Lisa at the Louvre, which happens to be a “certified copy” of the original Mona Lisa.  Let’s say you did not know this before hand and wait in line to see the Mona Lisa in the Louvre.  You feel the excitement of being one of the elite who gets to experience the mastery of Leonardo DaVinci.  You take in her dark eyes, quirky expression, and wonder who this woman was in real-life.  What if later in the day, you find out that it was not, in fact, the authentic painting but a copy.

Does that lessen the experience of the day? Was what you felt any less real now that you know the truth?   This argument plays throughout the movie particularly between the two characters in which you are never quite sure whether they just met, are dating, are married, or are divorced, and where each stand on the issue of experience.  If this bothers you, you are likely to be upset that the Mona Lisa is a copy.

You leave the movie questioning everything from art to love.  Is something that is a certified copy worse than an obvious copy?  Do we feel more or less scammed?   If someone says they love you and you feel happy, do you really need to grade the level of this love? Or can you fall in love in the moment.  After you have felt “true” love, was teenage love less real?  And, of course, you will always be able to argue both views.  Ahhh…how painful.

Interestingly enough, the same argument plays into brand experience.  Why do you think we do “white labeling”, when testing products? (the “blind taste test” of UX).  Knowing about a brand has the potential to influence the overall experience of a proposed design, like it or not.  As UX designers, ideally you are designing for that user group that can analyze an experience based solely on the moment in time, rather than needing to know the meaning behind the brand and/or designer; these are the users that don’t care that the Mona Lisa was a “certified copy” because at that moment in time, they felt something that excited them…or, if it wasn’t an ideal experience, were o.k. with admitting that the painting is really small and arguably over-hyped (sorry, Leo).

They have certified their own experience.  But just like with the movie, I can easily argue for the opposition that as consumers we rely on a consistent brand experience and enjoy the ongoing relationship between products overtime - especially if we share that feeling with others.  And so the argument goes…

Can UX really be white labeled?  Is my experience heightened or lessened knowing the designer or their intent?  Should we leave that all to customer experience?  Would Steve Jobs be Juliette Binoche or William Shimell in this argument?  So many questions.

Just like the movie, I am leaving it to you to decide.

Leave your comments below.

Janet Bewell
Janet Bewell

Akendi Alumnus

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Yes, a great point. I’ve had a similar experience with the difference between a single malt whiskey and it’s taste compared to blended whiskeys. Can you really say single malt is better, or should the taste be the sole driver. I found it really hard to leave ‘single vs blended’ out of the conversation. And at the same time felt like a snob who preferred single malt over blended. In the end I settled on that for me I enjoy the notion of experiencing a good brand, it does make a difference. The UX is still number one, but things like a brand definitely add to the overall experience.

There is two type of people: those who want the real experience and those that don’t care. People that want to see the real Eiffel Tower will got to Paris and those that don’t mind will go to Las Vegas. People that enjoy Vegas don’t necessarily enjoy Paris. I personally want the authentic experience.

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