Approaching Jury Duty with Experience Strategy: Evaluating Moments as an Experience Designer

June 03, 2020
By Donnie Young,
Experience Director

Experience designers are curious people. I came to experience design by way of marketing research, because I’ve always been a curious person with an interest in creating things. As a toddler, I’m sure I played with the shape orbs putting circles, triangles, and squares into their respective slots. I loved the hidden picture puzzles in Highlights magazine. For a while, I was addicted to the sliding tile games where just one space was missing. And, I’d crush it solving puzzles on Survivor if it didn’t include the always-being-hungry or athletics parts. Puzzles are my jam.

So, while I’ve worn many different hats over my career, when I found experience design, I knew I’d really found my calling. Unpacking the complexities–the puzzles–of my clients’ business problems and getting to those “ah-ha” simplifying, joy-inducing solutions is as exciting and rewarding as finishing the puzzles of my childhood… maybe even more. Even better, today I have the pleasure of using tools and tactics like workshops and interviews and journey mapping to get to solutions with my clients.

The Brain of an Experience Designer

But all of this bliss, I’ve learned, comes at a price. A steep price at that. Can an experience designer turn off their experience designing brain? I can’t. Every day I’m unpacking another puzzle or series of puzzles—sometimes silly ones—just to get through the day. Experience design puzzles come up in everyday life moments: 

  • The embarrassment of pushing a pull door with a misleading handle. 
  • The frustration of the office coffee maker with all of its burners and switches—which switch goes with which burner and whether they are on or off is really anyone's guess. 
  • The exasperation of pulling cash out of the ATM—why do I have to read all of these screens to answer “yes” and “no” questions that are worded differently at every bank? No, I don’t need to check my balance. Checking, $40. Yeah, I’ll pay the accepted fee. Please just give me my money! 

All of these unsolved puzzles make my head spin every day. I’m sure I’m not alone.

The Experience Designer Experiences Jury Duty

You can imagine the simultaneous horror and excitement in the mind of an experience designer going through the experience of jury duty in civil court. For those of you unlucky enough to have never served on a jury, let me explain.

Receiving the summons to appear was straightforward enough. However, once at the courthouse, the experience design observations kicked in immediately. And, I spent the better part of almost three weeks doing the equivalent of an on-the-ground discovery for the reimagining of the jury duty experience.

Just like I’ve done time and again for our clients, I identified the personas; in this case specifically, me. Through this lens, I mapped the current state journey—from the high-level stages of being summoned, through jury selection, to being selected, and of course the day-to-day trial experience, and finally dismissal.

an image depicting a mapp of the current state journey, showing four circles and dotted lines connecting them

As the days passed, I overlaid the stages with the specific steps of my experience and my corresponding thoughts, feelings, and actions. 

  • Receiving the summons, and the “ugh” feeling of it. 
  • Arriving at the courthouse and going through security: “Hey, it’s faster than at the airport.”
  • Watching the orientation video with amazement as a 1980’s Lester Holt got jurors ready for what we would encounter during the day.
  • Being selected. 😳
  • The nervousness of arriving for the first day of the trial.
  • Collecting the check: Yes, that about covered the cost of lunch.

And so on and so on, day after day.

image of four large spaced out circles with dotted lines in between, below that there are 10 smaller circles connected with a dotted line

By the end of my service, the opportunities I would uncover focused primarily on the trial experience.

  • Hearing testimony: For the love of all that is good, why are these the most uncomfortable chairs engineered? 
  • Waiting in the jury room: Why is the jury room so tiny? And two restrooms for 15 people to use at each break?
  • Taking notes: The note pads are also tiny. Why is everything so small?

Every break was spent breaking down and detailing more and more of the journey. Unpacking the opportunities in this enviable puzzle.

an image depicting the illustration of jury duty using circles as representations

Discovering Opportunities for Improvement

So, my dream career doesn’t come without its challenges. Constant awareness of “opportunities” for improvement can get in the way of enjoying things like entering a museum, or drinking a great cup of coffee, or getting money for a night out with friends. And, it can even hamper the experience of serving my community doing my civic duty.

Despite having spent all of those days sitting in those uncomfortable chairs taking very detailed notes to stay awake, I did not have the privilege of deliberating in that really small jury room. This civil case settled right before we were expected to be wrapping up testimony and closing arguments. 

Day after day listening to testimony and hearing evidence, and we didn’t even get to make the decision! Yet still, it was truly a privilege to serve. I just hope that next time I get another crack at putting all of the puzzle pieces together.