Human-Centric Design in a Digital World

The barrage of digital screens that inhabit our “always connected” world today have forever transformed the way we communicate, bringing us closer together in many ways but also marginalizing some who feel isolated, unseen, or unheard. At the end of the day, humans need humans to feel human. This session, led by NELSON Worldwide Chief Brand and Creative Officer Bevan Bloemendaal and Digital Masterplanning Strategist Brad Baer, explored how technology and the seamless blending of physical and digital touchpoints in the built environment can be leveraged to bring life to human-to-human connections at the intersection of design, technology, and storytelling.

Key Takeaways:

A lot has changed in the past couple of years, and by necessity, we have embraced digital interactions in almost every aspect of our lives.

However, humans need humans to feel human.

The need for a more natural blurring of the physical and digital worlds will spur the creation of trusted human experiences at scale. Experience is the battleground for everyone today, no matter the industry.

These are experiences that push us beyond the transactional mindset to create something transformational that we can’t live without. Consumers have never been more distracted, so it’s critical that we hold up our part of the social compact by giving them something incredible in exchange for their time.

As humans we take in environments and experiences holistically, not in bits and pieces. How does the overall space make me feel? From digital pre-visit to physical entry, does it make me feel welcome, safe, engaged, educated, connected, delighted. As a brand experience, that is truly a seamless representation of both the digital and physical worlds.

“Experience is really the new battleground – the ‘ah’ then the ‘ha’ have become the holy grail.” From Web3-integrated flagships and food boutiques to innovative playscapes, a transformational bent was deemed key.

Guests will rarely say, “I had a great digital experience,” or “I enjoyed the pre-visit experience.” Instead, it’s a simple and human: “Wow, that was a magical experience.” That is what we strive for.

To sum it up, people are searching for authenticity and simplicity. It’s why we’re seeing retail campaigns and environments that embrace what many call “messy reality” and shy away from perfection. It’s why we’re seeing things like “BeReal,” which shows social media in a less filtered way, and it’s why we’re seeing the rise of design and brand systems that are meant to look varied or even flawed…dare we say, human.

FEB 2023