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Tedde van Gelderen

Tedde van Gelderen

Founder & President

Experience Thinking: A Book to Create Connected Experiences

In 2017, I finished writing a book on what teams need to know to create truly connected experiences. The customer, user, citizen, client, guest and the many other audiences that businesses target ­– what do they experience? In the end, organizations hope it’s something that clicks, is connected and makes sense every step of the way, but often times it may not be.

Why a book about Experience Thinking?

Since 2007, I’ve been developing a set of processes and an overarching framework that positions what too often is a disconnected set of activities, teams, organizational structures, and internal stakeholder groups into a functional system that meets audience needs. I’m talking about how to get from the organizational foundation (people, processes, technology, business models and mandates) to what we, the audience, ultimately experience: the customer and user journeys making up an end-to-end experience lifecycle of the product or service.

What happens in between seems disjointed and doesn’t help in making the leap from who, what and how organizations are internally, to who, what and how they are externally. It’s that combination of Brand, Content, Product and Service experiences that organizations create for their audiences that need to be better connected.

I called the model I created Experience Thinking. Since then, the company I founded has used Experience Thinking to describe our audience-centric research and design process. We captured the framework that this process was embedded in on our website, with not a whole lot of deep explanation, but enough to demonstrate the value of being audience-centric and how to use appropriate techniques to keep the customer and user involved in the research and design phases of a product or service. That served our purpose as an experience research and design company for many years. At some point though, I felt it needed a deeper and more complete story, and so Experience Thinking, the book, was born.

Design Thinking, Strategic Business Thinking, Experience Thinking

If you see the term ‘Experience Thinking’ and you’re from a customer or user experience background, you may immediately connect this as a play on ‘Design Thinking’, and I would too. But Design Thinking is not where Experience Thinking came from. Time and time again, I’ve noticed a disconnect between the business minds and the rest of their organization – a disconnection between the people that make that first translation from high-level business objectives to something more concrete. These are the people that have the job to define and defend the purpose of the organization and then explaining the ‘now what’ of it all. At that level, I felt there was some critical strategic thinking, and business thinking, that left their audience’s experience out of the conversation. Not because they couldn’t think about their audience, but mostly because there was no structure or framework to help get them from A to B – from high-level objectives to the concrete product and service experiences that their audience expects, wants and needs.

Experience Thinking – Creating Connected Experiences

This book is about that framework, that guide for people at all levels that need an approach to translate business objectives into a set of activities that helps get them from A to B. It is not meant as a ‘how-to’ book, as there are many books about the specific UX research and design techniques already. Instead, this book helps people that need to know what should be done from an experience design perspective to structure a process from objective to reality. The book provides ideas and a framework to think in to help your team build a targeted approach that works best for the creation of a useful, usable and enjoyable end-to-end experience.

The Experience Thinking Framework in a Nutshell

The Experience Thinking (XT) framework is founded on Human Centered Design (HCD) principles and practices and builds on the notion that an experience itself is of customer and user value. Creating that experience means that organizations need to shape the current organizational structure to excel at delivering experiences – at the People level, the Business level, and the Process and Technology levels.

Once that foundation is in place, each experience needs to be designed from four distinct angles: Brand Experience, Content Experience, Product Experience and Service Experience. Each of these angles, or quadrants, has its own strategy, research and design process to arrive at the intended experience. Depending on the project, there may be more or fewer activities in each of these quadrants.

Lastly, these experiences must be connected so an end-to-end experience can be delivered for each of your audiences. Researching and capturing journey maps will help guide where your experience can shine brighter and uncover new opportunities that should be explored.

Want to Know More?

Experience Thinking – Creating Connected Experiences was released this year and you can order it here.

Tedde van Gelderen

Tedde van Gelderen

Founder & President

Continually looking for ways to improve the experiences of others, Tedde has dedicated his professional life to experience design, research and strategy. He derives energy, motivation, and purpose from improving the experiences of others and believes that every organization — and every industry — can benefit from Experience Thinking.


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About Akendi

Akendi is a human experience design firm, leveraging equal parts experience research and creative design excellence. We provide strategic insights and analysis about customer and user behaviour and combine this knowledge with inspired design. The results enable organizations to improve effectiveness, engage users and provide remarkable customer experiences to their audiences.