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Are you (not) engaged?

A Press Release to my audience

Let’s start with a So.

So, what’s happening to aeStranger and so on?

Well, I’m going to tell you!

And as such today’s post will be only a little bit shorter than usual.

The reason for this piece is more of a statement and as an info distributor on what’s going on with aeStranger and the overall AEX design concepts, plus additional content that aeStranger will be making. You could call it a Press Release.

First, I’d like to invite you to the website in its renewed form and all that it offers. We’ve decided to move to a productised service model which will allow us to support and help you more directly. It also gives you a better overview of all the things that aeStranger has to offer and what you can expect from us in the future.

We’ve redone the entire site to better follow the AEX design methodology, streamlining the audience experience and giving you a clearer path and journey towards your desired destinations within the aeStranger web-cosmos.

Second, I’ve started a blog and podcasts series, this post is also part of that series. The aim of the series as stated in a previous post titled Are you (not) amused, is to bring to you, my audience, the AEX design methodology. I’m going to do this by analysing and evaluating various individuals and company’s to see what it is that makes them so successful at engaging their audiences.

Our first subject for analysis will be Steve Jobs. I did a short assessment of him in my previous post and podcast. The full-on analysis will be coming to you next week. Due to the nature of the evaluation, it might be that some of the subjects only warrant a single post and podcast while others might need a mini-series. So be prepared for lots of content.

And third and finally, this post is also here to give a quick breakdown of what AEX design is and what it offers to you. I had done a previous post on Audience Engagement & Experience, but this was more about what it can offer you than what it is and how it works.

The reason I want to give you a breakdown of the framework is that with the series on analysing various people and companies, I believe that if you have the information at the ready for how I do it, then it will be of greater benefit to you.

At some point in the not-too-distant future, I will be offering a full course on how to use AEX design, and a lot of the information and case studies from these posts and podcasts will also be collated into a book for you.

But for now, I’ll just give you the working summary of the methodology, and with that, you can probably also apply some of the ideas within your own life and organisation.

AEX Design framework

First, I’ll give you the corporate and academic line for the framework, because a framework wouldn’t be complete without a good bit of over-complex jargon that says both a lot and nothing at the same time.

aeStranger and the AEX Design Analogous Approach Methodology: using a broad base of experiences across multiple mediums for over a decade, we use analogy-based processes to develop out of the box solutions, which include first principle thinking systems, to analyse and implement engagement methods in new and innovative ways.

I hope you enjoyed that. Plainly said, at its foundation AEX design uses four disciplines or four pillars, that of gamification, marketing, behavioural psychology and business strategy to create an engaging experience for your audiences. At times these pillars increase in number or decrease, but at its core, it is always these four.

The main aim of the framework then is to develop an experience that is enjoyable for your audience, and that eventually leads to habit formation and makes the activity second nature. This is important to understand, because as Ralph Koster has so eloquently stated:

“[T]he destiny of games (read experiences) is to become boring, not to be fun. Those of us who want games to be fun are fighting a losing battle against the human brain because fun is a process and routine is its destination.”

Fun or enjoyment is not sustainable, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. If we have fun all the time then we won’t know what fun is. The process of doing something can, of course, be enjoyable and it can be enjoyable for a very long time, but eventually, it will become routine and then we simply go through the motions and try to find something else. What we want instead are continued challenging activities that help create positive habits.

As the concept of Audience Engagement design stems from a film production background, the reality is that after a given amount of time, the interest in the product will diminish. Therefore, the idea of a continuous strategy is part of the aim of AEX design. Just like a film, tv show or game has a shelf life, so too does your experience. And you will need a good strategy in place once your experience has expired beyond its shelf life.

The eventual goal of AEX design is to ensure that the initial steps of the audience experience are as engaging and enjoyable as they can be for your target audience. Once the experience alters into a habit for them, then you will have a loyal follower base. They will likely eventually go elsewhere to find new fun and enjoyable experiences, but yours will by then have them grabbed at a much deeper level. As long as it has provided value to them and is meaningful in its return on their investment, then your retention of them will be for a very long time, if not forever.

Thus, the breakdown of the AEX design will likely be familiar to a lot of you. I’ve broken it down into a 9-piece puzzle, which takes a lot of inspiration from gamification, marketing and strategy.

  1. Objectives – determining your objectives and your audience’s objectives.
  2. Actions – what are the actions that you and your audience need to take.
  3. Personas – who is your audience and what kind of groups exist in there.
  4. Motivators – what psychological motivators should you leverage with your audience.
  5. Rewards – what rewards should you use when your audience accomplishes things.
  6. Mechanics – the ‘physical’ things that make up the experience, the UI and UX aspects.
  7. Triggers – the type of feedback that your audience will receive when they do stuff.
  8. Metrics – the feedback that you receive to see whether your audiences experience is successful or not.
  9. And finally the Experience Path – the final culmination of everything other step put together to create the journey that your audience will go on, and this is usually expressed in the four stages of Discovery, Onboarding, Scaffolding and the Adept stage.


Usually, I express these in what I’ve come to call a strategic flow chart for my clients. But basically, you can think of it in terms of the three points that Richard Rumelt states as what good strategy is. And that is that you have a diagnosis that defines the challenge that you are facing. From there you create a guiding policy that deals with the challenge and finally, you have a set of coherent actions to carry out the guiding policy.

And that is essentially what constitutes the AEX design framework. As it’s stated on the front of the aeStranger website, we help you craft engaging experiences so that your audience is no longer a stranger.

I hope that with this quick explanation of what the framework is, and with the continuing series where we will analyse how various successful engagers have engaged their audience, that you too can become more effective in engaging your audiences.

And should you wish additional assistance, then aeStranger is always ready to help you, so please do not hesitate to contact us.

And as always, until the next time, happy crafting everyone!

I hope that this piece has given you some food for thought and helped improve your own methods or at least offered a different viewpoint to consider.

Do check out the other posts on æ, and do leave a comment or contact us if you have some ideas of your own that you wish to discuss or if you would like to see other topics discussed.

Please do Share if you found it helpful and if you know of someone who would it find it helpful as well. 


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