Ei Experience Map

Client // Experience Institute (Ei)
Industry // Education
Project // Experience Map of Two Ei Terms
Role // Designer
Time // 2-week sprint

Experience Institute (Ei) is a year-long experiential learning program. Over the course of 3 terms, participants design and complete a series of three-month long apprenticeships and real world projects. Ei fellows are asked to write a recap of each term to tell a story of their experience. At the end of my second term, rather than using only words and photos, I decided to capture the many activities  and lessons I had learned over my first two terms by creating an experience map. 


RESEARCH

 While I had contributed to service blueprints for clients, I never created one from the ground up - especially for myself. I began by looking at examples for different user journey maps, experience maps, and service blueprints. While none of these examples were an exact fit for my vision of the experience map, it helped to understand what had been done and not reinvent the wheel. I also did a deep dive into data visualization methods for inspiration. 

I gathered content for the experience map by brainstorming and listing out all the activities, conversations, events, and projects I had participated in over the past 6-months.

These started off as post-its which were originally organized chronologically, then grouped by types of events.


SYNTHESIS & IDEATION

To make sense of the data points and determine what story I wanted to tell, I did rough sketches of different ideas. A concept that had stickiness was one around what it means to be a holistic, actualized designer.

I played with ways to categorize the data into buckets of becoming more skillful, connected, purposeful, and healthy


DESIGN

I considered different flows and color schemes for the map. It went through several iterations after testing and feedback.

I considered using a more interactive approach, where different parts of the map would be greyed out to highlight the flow from one term to another. 

Ultimately, it came down to simplifying and clarifying. Because I was initially trying to make too many points with one map, it was overwhelming and confusing to viewers.

The challenge came in helping users make sense of the information by highlighting the most important things first and guiding their viewing experience.


RESULTS

The final map has a lighter, crisper color palette with higher contrast than previous versions. Insights were taken out of the bubbles and listed in bullet form to be easier to read. This allowed me to fit in more key learnings to provide deeper context to the activities. The main focus of the map are the circles and where they are in relation to the four swim lanes.

While the first term was primarily clustered under "Skillful & Creative", the second term shows increased activity in the other three categories. There are four circles within "Purposeful & Strategic" for term 2,  where was none in term 1. The circles have only one background color, with a more subtle ring color to highlight a secondary narrative of exploring more "new" activities as I progressed in my year.  

My two terms were complex and full of exploration. Not only did I gain skills through my apprenticeship, I became more connected, purposeful, and self-aware through activities outside of the 9-5. This map captures the experiences I had in a way that shows the progress and journey.

You can read these accompanying Exposure articles about my two Ei terms:
Term 1 - Experiencing Service Design
Term 2 - Evolving Ambiguity