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.
- Objectives – determining your objectives and your audience’s objectives.
- Actions – what are the actions that you and your audience need to take.
- Personas – who is your audience and what kind of groups exist in there.
- Motivators – what psychological motivators should you leverage with your audience.
- Rewards – what rewards should you use when your audience accomplishes things.
- Mechanics – the ‘physical’ things that make up the experience, the UI and UX aspects.
- Triggers – the type of feedback that your audience will receive when they do stuff.
- Metrics – the feedback that you receive to see whether your audiences experience is successful or not.
- 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!