User experience design arose from a need to make tech applications more human-centred, compared to the early days of the web where many websites were developed from an android standpoint. As we approach an age where applications become more personalised, it has almost become expected for a machine to acknowledge our humanness - feelings, learning curves, frustrations and all.  

You may notice that delightful experiences are better executed in physical environments. Restaurants, concept stores, Disneyland and escape rooms all have unique control to immerse customers in an experience that can evoke feelings of delight. It may not be long before our experiments achieve to recreate these feelings on the web.  

Addictive and stimulating are not usually words used to describe family-fun activities, but that’s exactly what escape games can make you feel. Not only are they are a fun experience for groups of friends, they are also often participated by enterprises as a popular team-building exercise. Lately in our hunt for new concepts, we’ve discovered some fantastically designed rooms and also some fully immersive experiences that question the acceptable boundaries between what is a game versus reality. 

I’ve narrowed down recent escape room experiences to insights we can apply towards user experience design. 

Vary the skills required by your user to navigate the room

At the start of introduction to a new website or application, users will rely on what looks familiar to help them quickly navigate through the flow. As users become accustomed to these cues, designers can optimise the interactions so that users can reach their goal in a way that is faster, more personalised, more efficient or even more immersive.  

Similarly, your first few escape room experiences will most likely be the simple type of search and unlock types where you must solve a combination in order to open a series of padlocks. This may sometimes require basic skills in arithmetic and visual problem solving. Advancing further, you will get into mechanism-based rooms, where the focus is less on padlocks and more on the interactions between objects, where trapdoors open via electrical circuits. This shifts the range of required skill, thinking and interactivity towards the use of spatial recognition, sequences requiring some physical manoeuvring and more intimate teamwork.  

For a fully immersive experience, prep your users

Our latest escape room was the most immersive experience yet. Set in a serial killer saw-esque theme, our experience began hours before our scheduled booking at lunch time, when we received an SMS message from the fictitious serial killer about “watching you and your friends.” We would have believed it to be real if it weren’t signed by the name of the escape room company. Essentially this set the scene for excitement and prepped us up for an intended creepy experience long before we had entered its doors.  

Prior to your users entering the main area, what can you do to prep them for the experience they are about to get? 

Deliver 110% on the core product

Once your users are prepped for the experience, make sure the main product lives up to the expectations you have created. No doubt, the room was by far the creepiest in design and atmosphere. The creators made full use of lighting, sound effects and interior props to create a room that made you feel like you were in a movie.