Tuesday, January 16, 2007

"Experience Strategies"

Cruising around the internet today and I came across a great post at adaptive path blog about how companies like Google and Flickr are using "experience strategies" to define their mission statements.

Experience strategies are clearly articulated touchstones to guide product teams in all the decisions they make about technology and features. An experience strategy defines a product requirement from the perspective of the user, and what they want to accomplish, achieve, do.

The post goes on with an example from Flickr's About Us page:

1. We want to help people make their photos available to the people who matter to them.

2 . We want to enable new ways of organizing photos.
A related post about the success of the Google Calendar (which I use and love love love) goes on to say:

Here’s a product whose very definition was predicated on empathy for true customer needs.
There's also a great excerpt from the Google presentation about the development of the Calendar code which I think can be reverse engineered for folks who come at filmmaking from other fields. (I couldn't figure out how to get the picture in the middle of the layout, so it's up top, sorry.)

This is very similar to the way that commercial films are put together. Genres are the "handles" we use to shortcut the "experience strategy" we have planned for the audience: horror (we want the audience to be scared), romance (we want the audience to experience love and heartbreak) and so on. Some people call this the "ride" a film offers its viewers. Films that effectively deliver on a genre promise are rewarded with viewers (and sometimes awards, but that's a different post).

In creating commercial films, we also frequently talk about the audience's "buy" or the "gimme" i.e. the logic gaps that sometimes are necessary evils when creating spectacle. Examples of this abound, especially in most popular sci fi films (a recent one is DEJA VU, which readers here will know I really dug, but had a ton of questions about in terms of logic and science paradoxes). Spoof films like SCREAM, and the spoof of the spoof take-off on the idea, SCARY MOVIE, have made a genre out of winking at the audience and playing up these gimmes, making them the "experience."

Film is a temporal art, much more akin to music than literature, and the human brain has a limited attention span. Take advantage of this by making it a part of your strategy (i.e. "to deliver a non-stop emotional journey"), shore up the gimmes in your script by wrapping them in novel/ dramatic/ funny/ scary moments. Most audiences will forgive you -- look at the PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN or any other Bruckheimer/ Bay-type movie. They'll even recommend the film to their friends. And that word of mouth is gold.

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