The 3rd Discipline of Guest Experiences: Design

Organizations that want to produce a high-quality Guest experience need to perform a set of sound, standard practices. Harley Manning and Kerry Bodine, in their book Outside In, have developed six high-level disciplines which can be translated into Guest experiences: strategy, Guest understanding, design, measurement, governance, and culture.

An overview of all six Disciplines can be found here. These disciplines represent the areas where organizations that are consistently great at Guest experiences excel.

If you want to deliver a great Guest Experience, these disciplines are where you need to focus, too. 


Design isn’t just choosing the right images and fonts for your next website revision. It’s a problem-solving process that incorporates the needs of Guests, team members, and partners in your mission. It’s a way of working that creates and refines real-world situations.

Design is the secret weapon of organizations that gives them a strategic advantage in figuring out what services their Guests need and in defining the exact characteristics of every Guest interaction. Design helps you understand how a Guest accesses your website, what a Guest is likely to do as they approach your campus, and gives you clues about creating a welcoming environment.

Design is the most important discipline that you’ve probably never heard of.

The human-centered design process starts with research to understand Guest needs and motivations. It’s all those activities in the discipline of Guest Understanding. Analysis is next – synthesizing the data into useful forms. The next phase is ideation, which is just what it sounds like – coming up with ideas. After that, it’s time to prototype – ranging from a simple redesigned Guest survey to a full-scale mock-up of your typical Guest experience on the weekend. Next, these prototypes are put into action with real people while you observe the results. Finally, you must document the features of the resulting product or service that has evolved.

Design Practices

  • Follow a defined Guest Experience design process any time a new experience is introduced or an existing experience is changed in some way
  • Use Guest understanding deliverables and insights to focus and define requirements for projects that affect Guest Experiences
  • Engage Guests, team members, and partners as part of the experience design process
  • Use iterative ideation, prototyping, and evaluation as part of the experience design process
  • Identify the set of complex interdependencies among people, processes, and technologies that shape interactions with Guests (the Guest Experience Ecosystem)

The right Guest Experience changes, implemented the right way, won’t just fall into your lap. You must actively design them. This requires learning – and then sticking to – the steps in a human-centered design process.

I will be happy to discuss Guest Experience initiatives for your church and partner with you to design a WOW! Guest Experience.

Application to ChurchWorld

  1. Guest interactions need to be designed, not left to chance
  2. Design is an activity best done with people, not to them
  3. Prototyping can help keep ideas alive while you create buy-in

Design will stretch your skills and challenge your old ways of working.

Next: How do you know when your design work is having the effects you intended? That’s where the measurement discipline comes in.

Want to know more about the Guest Experience in your church?

  • Learn why the Guest Experience matters here
  • Contact me here
  • Read up a little here

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