Get the first step in the design thinking process right every time


The first step in the design thinking process is the most crucial step as this is when human insights are leveraged to define value. Every successive step is grounded in the right problem being solved, prototyped, and tested.

If the “Empathy” step is deemed optional and replaced by guesswork, or executed poorly, the entire innovation process will fail in the marketplace.

A future-focused articulation of an experience enables teams to see the category as people want it to be, unencumbered by what it is today.



“Many business leaders seek to understand their customer wants and desires to generate offerings that connect with them. Current user research tools have proven to be ineffective in informing the business decision-making process. If these tools were effective, organizations would be able to repeat success in a reliable fashion, but this is not the case. This book gives you a step-by-step proven process on how to transform user information into customer insights and how to use these insights to inform innovative value-generating business decisions.”

Victor Ermoli DSA, MEDes.

Dean of the School of Business Innovation
Dean of the School of Design
Dean of the School of Communication Arts
Acting Chair of Industrial Design
Savannah College of Art and Design

“This research approach produced the most transformative work I have seen.”

Rob Moser

Global Head of Experience Design, Ford Next

“The Ideal Experience approach has the longest shelf life of all UX Research methods. I am still using the insights from the Ideal Collaboration project we did with Lextant over a decade ago. Marty and Spencer offer a methodology that will raise the quality of your thinking, not just the quality of your research.”

Lada Gorlenko

Sr. Director of Research at MURAL
Co-Founder, Board of Directors, IxDA

“Humanity’s well-being rests to an astonishing degree in the hands of those who research, interpret, and design our experiences of moments, objects, events, and environments. Yet, many of the design industry’s methods and practices have failed this consequential obligation in one regard. They are insufficiently holistic, unable to integrate the myriad aspects of a human experience in a way that upholds their categorical interrelatedness. In one simple framework, the Anatomy of An Experience, and an accompanying approach, Gage and Murrell have broken through this impasse by marrying humans’ ideal states of being with their correlate in specific design attributes—benefits, features, and sensory cues. For businesses, the implications of being able to render customers’ inner longings in the form of concrete products, services, and environments are enormous. But User Experience Research is also an essential manual for anyone seeking a process for dealing with the growing complexity of human experience while designing for a future of well-being for humanity and our biosphere.”

Nita Rollins, Ph.D.

former Executive Director of Experience Trends and Semiotics at IBM iX, co-first author of The Open Brand

“The content and design are so well done! It reminds me of all the amazing things I learned during my time at Lextant—countless things that frame how I think about product development. So many researchers (not to mention designers, product managers, and engineers) would benefit from this.”

Jessica Owen

UX Researcher, Meta