A photograph of an experience design team sitting around a table looking at city maps; A photograph of an experience design team sitting around a table looking at city maps;

Experience design

Experience design is a human-centred way to improve services, places and cities. 

Experience design is a human-centred way to improve services, places and cities. 

Whatever we design and construct, it’s often how the overall experience ‘feels’ that people remember most. Understanding how an unmet human need can be reimagined into an engaging space, or intuitive service, requires a new and emerging practise. We call it ‘experience design.’

Our experience design teams, located around the world, focus on improving services, places and cities. Our work spans physical and digital solutions and aims to understand human needs, reframe business challenges, and ultimately produce engaging experiences within the built environment. By drawing on a wide variety of expertise, from business innovation to social enterprise, product development to visual storytelling, we shape a compelling vision of what’s possible.

Experience design increasingly drives business success. The process can reveal how to increase revenue through the creation of new value, increase customer or visitor satisfaction, it can help you to define new business models or reduce costs. A five year study by McKinsey Consulting found that companies with design led, human-centric processes saw a significant increase in revenue and reduction in risk.

Define, learn, explore

The experience design process starts by overcoming the familiar issues that projects face: a lack of defined goals; a lack of integration with other organisational priorities; and a lack of shared understanding between stakeholders. From here we learn, explore solutions and refine ideas. Along the way we constantly switch our focus between the impact on people and considerations of wider social, environmental and economic trends.

There are three levels to our highly collaborative approach:

Human. We gather insights on people's daily life through observation, interviews, prototyping, and other forms of research. We learn from those affected: such as building occupants, local community members or passengers, translating abstract strategy or policy into a vision of what a person could experience.

Spatial. It’s vital to understand how people will interact with spaces and places. Ensuring continuity between spatial design ideals and the actual experience produced, requires new insights, methods and an ability to blend the digital and physical worlds. This is as true of transport infrastructure as it is of contemporary retail or residential buildings.

Services and systems. Wherever we are, whatever we’re doing, our collective experience is a sequence of events, often threaded together by subtle human, market and technology forces. Our capabilities in service design allow us to layer in human interactions and how an organization provides a service to meet business goals. In addition, our knowledge and experimentation with emerging technologies allow us to gather insights to drive improvements. We worked with the City of Amsterdam to define digital urban strategies and a community participation platform for their major district developments at Sloterdijk, Sluisbuurt, and ArenAPoort.

Experience design adds value in any sector

Arts and culture

Arts and culture

We help clients to define the ideal vision for their spaces and services, considering their mission, user needs, spatial context, and operating model. Our team will integrate service design, digital master planning, architecture, and specify technology into a comprehensive plan that clients can work from.

We helped Dartmouth College’s Hopkins Center for the Arts to develop an integrated campus vision, combining technical concepts, project feasibility, construction cost modelling and operational requirements needed to realise the changes.



Passenger habits and preferences are always changing. We help clients across the mobility sector to understand this evolving market and ensure that the travelling experience and supporting infrastructure align to produce a great service.

For Transport for Wales our team collected data and insights from real customers, defined a new customer experience strategy for hospitality and supported capacity building for ongoing trials.

Cities and local government

Cities and local government

City and local governments rely on public engagement. We help them design experiences that offer greater social value and command public support, leading to sound investments in services, digital infrastructure and capabilities.  

Sheffield City Council wanted to develop new value models for its city centre, retail, mobility, energy and housing. We devised new citizen engagement approaches, including producing a participation toolkit, which was deployed across the city.

Changing attitudes to the planet

We believe that great design can also help address global priorities, like meeting the UN Sustainable Development Goals. We help clients to address these wider issues with engagement workshops, developing tools to explain abstract theories and crafting behavioural design nudges that motivate better outcomes. Sustainable development principles inform everything we do.

We worked with our energy and digital colleagues as we helped the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to understand the barriers and unmet needs surrounding information sharing and industrial decarbonisation.

Talk to our experts

You can access our experience design services through regional experts around the world.

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