Pattrn's co-founder and Head of Design talks about how they use design and creativity to create memorable experiences.

Transform experiences using imagination and design process

Chris Lewis
Head of Design, Co-Founder
Growing up, during the Summer holidays my brothers and I spent most of our time outside. We spent our time bored and relegated to the garden. After watching the film Cool Runnings we had a brilliant idea. We should build a go-kart from my Dad’s old golf cart and some old trolley wheels.

With great enthusiasm, we launched our craft down the hill! As chief test pilot, I gripped the steering rope with white knuckles. My brief moment of exhilaration faded fast. I realised, halfway down the hill, that we’d forgotten one key component, the brakes.

It was an important lesson. Without some critical thinking, creativity alone can only get you so far. Combine creativity and design together. You can launch experiences that are wonderful, purposeful and a lot less risky.

All grown up, I now use creativity and critical thinking in a much more interesting way. In this article I wanted to talk about how we use design and creativity to help to work through big challenges.
A row of abstract 3D blocks with a blue dot emerging from one of the gaps.

How we think about design and creativity at Pattrn.

Before we dive in, I wanted to make sure that we’re all on the same page. Design and creativity can mean so many things to so many different people.

At Pattrn, we see ‘design’ as a process and a tool. It helps us to figure out customer and business problems by methodically creating artefacts, systems and experiences with a specific purpose.

For us ‘creativity’ is the ability to think in ways that are different from established patterns. We combine existing concepts, knowledge, or elements in new and unique ways to imagine something that is both novel and useful.

When you combine design and creativity together, you can create experiences that are equally useful, usable and delightful. This enables businesses to differentiate their brand, products and services. It gives them a competitive edge.
A blue dot moving along a series of floating steps

Creative design to create memorable experiences

Creativity is now more important than ever with today's complex, interconnected problems. From climate change to technological advancements. With the adoption of AI and automation, we face some interesting ethical and creative challenges of our own.

For businesses there are rapid changes in markets, technology, regulations, and consumer preferences. This creates uncertainty and increases business risks. Companies must navigate these uncertainties and make decisions in an ever-changing landscape. Staying competitive requires continuous innovation and a dynamic response to evolving market dynamics.

We’ve outlined three ways in how we use creativity and design to solve challenges and explore new opportunities. I’ll talk about the following points. Imagining the future. Breaking down complex problems. Creating emotional connections with delightful interactions.

Imagining the future

Creating a vision for a business's future is a critical strategic process. But, it comes with several challenges. It’s especially hard to define whilst adapting to a changing environment. This often results in a fragmented customer experience. Making it difficult to support and frustrating for users.

Creativity works best when you have time to reflect and time to think. It encourages designers to think outside the box and come up with innovative solutions to design challenges. This can lead to new features, functionalities and user experiences that set the product apart from the competition.

As a design consultancy we can often remove ourselves from the business as usual. This enables us to think big, think holistically and imagine more ambitious experiences.

Our design process gives us the framework to ensure that our ideas are grounded in customer insights and deliver business value. It also helps us to rapidly prototype, test and communicate the vision. By defining the end state we can work closely with the development team to create the right foundations for future experiences.
Case study — We’re currently working on a digital transformation programme for CPHI. We're reimagining their digital ecosystem from a fragmented system to a unified experience. The programme will streamline the user experience, simplify our commercial offering, streamline our operations and create new revenue opportunities.
Design tools: Vision definition, customer journey mapping and rapid prototyping.

"Creating a vision for a business's future is a critical strategic process."

Creative problem solving

I personally love working on complex problems. I get satisfaction from organising information and breaking it down into neat little briefs. This gives me a safe, bounded set of blank canvases that tie back to a set of customer needs, pain point or business problem. Approaching these challenges with a creative mindset can lead to innovative solutions that set a project apart.

Across most projects we work at Pattrn we find three challenges when problem solving. First is dealing with complex and sometimes unorganised information. Second is working with the wrong sort of information. And finally, overthinking or over analysing solutions. The key to any design challenge is to work through it as thoroughly as possible. The trick to avoid overthinking the solution is to time box the idea stage. Then,  make a proof of concept and test it, pronto.

Design helps to bring structure and process to problem solving. It considers and improves the entire customer journey down to every interaction. It also helps to share the problem with a cross-disciplinary perspective. By bringing ideas to life and quickly demonstrating them. It’s much easier to get feedback from people and to test your assumptions. Design helps to ground creative ideas. It provides objectivity and purpose. Creativity helps to imagine fresh ways to improve the experience or meet unmet needs.
Case study — We work closely with teams across Informa Markets to identify and solve some of the priority challenges. We gathered, processed and simplified an enormous amount of complex information across the event journey.
This process made the information actionable and workable. And it made it easier to communicate. We did the hard work to make it easier to design. I can’t stress enough how important it is to organise insights into the right altitude.
Design tools: Problem and solution tree maps.

"Creativity works best when you have time to reflect and time to think. It encourages designers to think outside the box and come up with innovative solutions to design challenges."

Create emotional connections with delightful interactions

Two customer experiences have really stood out to me recently. The first was buying some new clothes at Uniqlo. I picked out my clothes and headed to pay. This is where the ‘magic’ happened. Instead of standing in a queue, I placed my items in an empty box next to the terminal. It scanned my items and within seconds I headed out the door with a dumb smile across my face. My experience was convenient. They had identified a pain point and used design to identify it. They used creativity to think of the solution and tech to make it happen.

The second experience is the Webflow university. The experience was informative and hilarious. They had gone the extra mile and made the experience delightful. Design had identified the need and creativity made the videos memorable.

We find that by focussing on how creativity can improve the convenience and the engagement of our customers' experiences. This goes a long way in convincing them to love your brand. There are two principles we would recommend in your design process; knowing your customer and thinking big.

To lead with the experience you need to know your customers' needs and pain points. Emotions play a significant role in user experience. Knowing your customer allows you to design experiences that evoke positive emotions. This leads to increased user satisfaction and brand loyalty.

For us, thinking big has two parts. The first is considering the entire customer experience. The second is to be ambitious, challenge yourself but also challenge existing norms and known patterns. But like the saying goes, you have to know the rules to break the rules. ;)

Taking a holistic approach encourages a deep understanding of the entire user journey. This means considering all touchpoints and interactions with the product or service, from initial awareness to post-purchase support. By understanding the complete user experience, you can address pain points and opportunities at every stage.

For now I want to focus more on thinking big helps you to push known limits. In our ‘thinking big’ process we do a lot of competitor and landscape research. We’re also avid - and slightly judgemental - users of things. This helps us to judge experiences. It helps us to gather things that we like and don’t like and use that in our work. This combined with the ambition and tenacity to make outstanding experiences is the fuel to make any experience great.

Creativity in digital design can create an emotional connection between the user and the product. By considering the people’s needs and emotions, designers can use creative elements to elicit specific feelings and responses. Empathy is our superpower.
Case study — Some designs that we’re proud of whilst working with Informa Markets have been the new web experience designs. We worked hard on each portfolio to create a design system based on user needs and expresses each portfolio in a unique and engaging way. They’re a good example of pushing design and technology into a memorable experience.
Design tools: Jobs to be done, solutions mapping and sketching.
Making excellent digital experiences can be rewarding and it can be difficult at times. I hope this article can help anyone - who’s read this far down - to use some of this as inspiration and create some outstanding experiences of their own.

Thanks for reading. So, if you find yourself strapped to a rickety golf cart staring down a hill with ambition of olympic glory, step back and reach out to Pattrn. We can work together with you to imagine a better future. :)
If you’d like to know more about how we work, please get in touch.