Why Interpretation and Design?


Image of a smiley-face artist standing next to his work. "Artists solve their own problems."

Design thinking is a methodology to identify and solve issues and problems called challenges. Challenges are inherently people centered with end users in mind and are defined during the process. It can be used as a tool to solve service, product, or process issues and is designed to challenge assumptions, rethink paradigms and drive insight, innovation and action.

Design thinking promotes “radical interdisciplinary collaboration” and by consequence came to be through many fields of study, including architecture, art, innovation hubs, planning, software development, and academia to name a few. It is a product of its practice; or in design language its “form follows function.”

A Smiley-face Designer stands next to his design - an iPhone. "Designers solve other people's problems."Design implies…

  • Human-centered: Empathy for the person or people you are designing for, and feedback from users, is fundamental to good design.
  • Radical Collaboration: Moving to “our” product rather than “My program” and “My park”
  • Experimentation and Prototyping: Prototyping is not simply a way to validate your idea; it is an integral part of your innovation process. We build to think and learn.
  • A Bias Towards Action: Design thinking is a misnomer; it is more about doing than thinking. Bias toward doing and making over thinking and meeting.
  • Show Don’t Tell: Creating experiences, using illustrative visuals, and telling good stories communicate your vision in an impactful and meaningful way.

Try your hand at Design Thinking!

Images of two pages of the Design Thinking activityReady to radically rethink your park’s visitor experience? This activity can help you play with new ideas, think up new ways to serve visitors, and brainstorm new meanings for your place. The activity requires a buddy to help you think differently about your place. Jump feet-first into rapid prototyping and use design thinking to identify new things visitors might enjoy.

Looking For More on Audience Centered Experiences?

Audience Centered Experience Button - Two Pictogram Visitors talking to a pictogram rangerYou can find much more self-guided learning and all of the materials for making yourself an ACE in the Audience Centered Experience Interpretation workbook.

Interpretive Leadership button - a pictogram ranger leading a group of other rangers higherYou can find links to seasonal lesson plans which support this emerging skill set in the Audience Centered Experience Trainers’ Guide.

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