Don Norman gave user experience (UX) its name in the 1990s but while Don Norman might have named UX, I would argue that Walt Disney invented it 30 years earlier. And if you Google “Walt Disney and UX” you will see I’m not alone in this thought.1
A true User Experience is not just how a Website works. It is built out of the brand from the ground up. It is every single interaction a person has with your brand‚ from the sales people they meet, how your product or service works, how you treated them along the purchase journey and how that experience made them feel…and so much more. For that reason, in order to create a great user experience you have to understand your own brand and weave those brand elements into your customer’s experience. There are very few companies, if any, that does this better than Disney. Disney is a perfect example of a company that fully understands their brand and creates branded user experiences. They are a master class in knowing the brand—creating magical experiences—and applying that brand consistently and everywhere the brand touches the consumer. Whether you are in a Disney store, booking a vacation, in a Disney Park or at a Disney hotel you are at all times fully immersed in the brand experience of Disney. If you are talking to a park janitorial custodian or Cinderella herself those brand ambassadors assist in spreading the brand promise of creating magical experiences for their guests with every interaction.
So what can we learn from Disney in terms of UX?
- Always go above and beyond
- Create immersive brand experiences
The power of Disney magic is pulling you into a fully immersive experience through every single interaction while making you the main character in your own story. With anything Disney, the Cast Members are always in character, the details of every ride, set or attraction are so authentic and so realistic you get pulled into the story. Even the rides themselves focus on you as the main character. For example, in the very beginning of the Peter Pan ride it starts without a Peter Pan because you, the rider, become Peter, flying about the world. Full immersion in the story and magical moment created.
- Use technology to enable your customers to have a great brand experience.
Before the days of have-to-have-it data analytics Disney was ahead of his time and watched traffic patterns and sales data to adjust things like like the number of ice cream stands and line cues. This makes Walt Disney one of the very first to use data to drive business decisions. Fast-forward to today and Disney uses the MagicBand, a colorful data collecting wearable wristband that can unlock your hotel room, make purchases with a tap, help you plan out what rides to go on based on wait times and help you know how busy a park is that day. And it all “works like magic” no need for any extra effort from guests. That’s using technology to create seamless user experiences and in Disney’s case creating more branded magic.
- Every interaction is an opportunity to reaffirm the brand promise
Call a Disney rep to book a vacation…they go out of their way to make the experience a great one. Take the Disney Bus transportation from the airport to the resort and you will be greeted with great service and a video about the parks to let you know what’s new and to get you in the Disney mood. Check in at the front desk and every cast member is pleasant and accommodating. Every where you go, everything you see, everything you do, every staff member you interact with, every single interaction reinforces the Disney brand of making magical moments. Disney quickly realized that every time a customer interacts with their brand is an opportunity to reaffirm their brand promise and they capitalized on it big time. That’s why people go back time and time again. It’s why they bring their friends and family. I have been to Disney over 36 times. Yes, you read that correctly. Thirty-six times. And as many times as I have been there with each and every visit there is a new experience that makes my visit there magical. Only once did we have a bad experience while staying at the Contemporary Resort and to say Disney went above and beyond to correct the issue would be an understatement.
So when building your brand’s UX remember that UX goes beyond what a customer does on your Website. It’s everything your brand does for your customer any time the customer interacts with your brand. As Walt would say:
“Whatever you do, do it well. Do it so well that when people see you do it they will want to come back and see you do it again and they will want to bring others and show them how well you do what you do.”
- “Walt Disney: The World’s First UX Designer.” Walt Disney: The World’s First UX Designer | UX Magazine, uxmag.com/articles/walt-disney-the-worlds-first-ux-designer.
- “Always Be Plussing: User Experience Design Lessons from Walt Disney.” BrainStation Blog, 18 Mar. 2019, blog.brainstation.io/always-be-plussing-user-experience-design-lessons-from-walt-disney/.