Journey of Expectations, You Don’t Design a Product, You Design a Journey

Expectations is created by a cognitive observation within us all, fulfilling our brain with desire from the input we receive, driven by our reptilian brain, craving food, sex and other basic survival instincts. Each step we take toward an expectation in a hunt to satisfy these cravings – the journey – we fuel our desire and endlessly anticipating the delivery of that desire. The journey is a series of expectations and deliveries, each creating a micro experience building upon each other, keeping our attention and desire ongoing within the entire experience.

An expectation is to get what you imagine you want, within a frame of thoughts. Expectations builds on the premise; I observe, I need, I want.

When you deliver on an expectation, the user is satisfied and at ease, slowly burning the last fuel of the delivered desire, neither approving or disapproving the experience. In this state of mind, we won’t remember the experience, neither as bad nor god, processing the experience as redundant, forgettable.

When you exceed an expectation, the user will be amazed, marveled by the fact that there is more to the expectation then imaginable, literally blowing the users mind, throwing thoughts into a spin of magic, euphoria, adrenalin. A primal hunt for our desires and the kill that delivers, a positive memory, imprinting our brain with success, securing repetition.

When you don’t deliver on an expectation, the users experience is shattered, creating a state of remorse. The user falls into discomfort, trying to processes and hold on to the desire there was, going through the stages of disbelief, denial, anger and finally acceptance, making the experience a negative memory, avoiding such cases in the future. Chemicals like adrenaline and noradrenaline surge through the body, getting ready for a fight-or-flight response, cooping with the experience.

Experiences will imprint our brain with positive, negative and redundancy. It will guide us through what to pursue, what to avoid and what to trust. Our hunt for the better, the serene, the sweeter, the stronger is a primal survival instinct to be alive, to live, to be.

All great storytelling follows this process, taking you on an expectation journey, building desire and delivering relief. Each cognitive communication element will be observed and expected to deliver.


Motion design, driven by gestures, is an engaging experience with expectations for each finger touching and interacting with the interface. By each press there is an expectation of feedback. How you return this feedback will fall into the three levels of delivery. The user will assume that the hard surface will react as a minimum, mimicking the laws of physics. When we go beyond, enforcing the motion, the expectation will be exceeded and our brain is amazed, activating adrenaline. When the motion is lacking behind, stuttering or feels stiff in contrast to the environment, the experience becomes a disappointment, activating anger.

Journey of Expectations

When you build a product, as a designer, your focus is usually on the product itself, turning every use-case and corner-case scenarios, validating the experience. You aim for the vary highest experience, the ultimate usability, the strongest communication and the reliable interaction. You are careful about the previous fails and the learnings from your community. You build a product based on the pride and skills you have nourished so deeply through your carrier.

The journey of expectations, is a view of the product as a 360° timeless experience. If you don’t consider the entire product lifetime and journey, from sale to use, then your work is created in a vacuum, with a limited 45° view. The expectations are building up right from the first look at a sales poster, website advertising or shop window. This is where you must meet the demand that soon will be your products expected delivery.

Analyzing what your consumers are expecting, will deliver you more insights then anything else. You will be able to find the right level of commitment and align all your product related activities within marketing, service, production and design. You might discover that your users demand more or less of your product, while you might be working in the opposite direction, resulting in either underused or overused resources.

It’s not about reaching the highest standard, it’s about aligning expectations. If you sell a mainstream product, then your consumers won’t expect luxurious details and innovation. If you sell an expensive product, then you must deliver on those high expectations. But you control the expectations, you designed the sales poster, you communicated the website advertisement and you created the shop window.

You don’t design a product, you design a journey of expectations.