Bryan Taylor

Designing Digital Experiences that Feel More Human with Porter

We’ve all experienced those chatbots that are anything but helpful, or ordering from a table-tablet at the airport that feels more like a rolodex of ads than a digital menu. When technology replaces human interactions and it actually improves our human experiences, we feel valued and appreciated. But when technology erodes an experience — usually because it was put in place to help someone’s bottom line rather than make our lives easier — it compounds our frustrations.

So, how do we leverage technology to build more meaningful human experiences instead of soulless, useless interactions? Here is what we found when building Porter:


Empathy

First, you need to sit in the seat of the person who will be using this technology. You don’t start with tasks; you don’t start with financial implications. You start by thinking about the user’s experience — and how you can improve it.


Rapid Prototyping

There’s a whole lot more to building humanizing tech than making sure it works. We have to build prototypes and then watch users — physically and digitally watch users — to see not only how those prototypes work, but also how they make users feel. We need to pay attention to what they say to their friends across the table. And then we refine and refine and refine, until it is ready to fit effortlessly into natural human experiences.


Design

When we design for human experiences, we take that empathetic foundation and the lessons we learned while prototyping, and then we design an experience that organically melds with the human experiences that we’re trying to improve. If we make patrons’ experiences easier, smoother, and more memorable, then we have a successful design; if not, we need to go back to prototyping.


Evolve

Once we build a useful tool, we celebrate for five minutes, and then we get back to work. We get back to watching, determining where hangups happen, where frustrations occur. And then we evolve, so we don’t end up being those experiences that we loathe. 


Design Thinking

If you’re not familiar with design thinking as an approach to design and problem solving, it is essentially the process outlined above. It was the framework that we utilized to build the platform that Porter is today — and the process that we are still using as we continue to work to make better guest and patron experiences.