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Design-thinking: Experience Events Through Attendee Eyes

design-thinking process

Design-thinking is not a new concept. It’s a methodology allowing one to approach problem-solving from a human-centric viewpoint. You place yourself in the shoes of your attendees and design your event to match the reality of what they need.

It’s time to expel what you think you already know about what your attendees want and need from your mind and approach challenges anew.

Previously, we shared a session on innovating the event design process.

Now we will dive into the five pillars of design-thinking…


Not without saying, you do need to know as much about your audience as possible. Understand their unmet needs, core values, behaviours and emotions.

Once you are in their shoes, you will be closer to understanding things from their perspective.

And closer to designing an event for them, and not only to provide a “solution” to them.


This pillar is two-fold. It is to define the personas of your audience and the problem you are going to solve later on.

Based on what you gathered from empathising with your attendees, develop your audience personas. It might a millennial persona, or maybe something more generic like a “First-timer” or a “Networker”. These personas make up your audience, and you’ll take their viewpoint to define the problem. Each persona has a different reason for being present. They will also be impacted in a different way.

Now, what are the challenges your event is currently facing (or will face) based on the empathetic pillar and your developed personas?


The brainstorm pillar! Put a halt on judgement and start thinking freely and out of the box, because during this pillar you will be turning your previous observations and definitions into ideas that help your audience.

From your attendees point of view, ask questions out loud to tackle the challenges you defined and create ideal creative solutions.

Anything and everything goes.


Now, it’s time to get creative, release your inner child and make some tangible ideas.

This might be a website sitemap, a 3D model, a simulation, a blueprint, a storyboard or perhaps a prototype for a new event application.

The bottom line is to create something to efficiently test your ideas based on the findings from the first two pillars.

TestTest, Learn, Modify

This last pillar can be a long process. Nothing comes out perfect the first time. And that is why you’ll need to…

Test your ideas and prototype you created.

Analyse the results of your testing with a critical eye and attendee lens to learn. What worked? What didn’t work?

Go back and modify your prototype based on your findings. Keep modifying until you see your ideal results.

You don’t have to follow these pillars in a linear fashion. If it works to jump from testing to learning about your audience to defining your challenges, then go the non-linear route. The pillars are the groundwork, they don’t need to follow a specific direction. No project is the same.

Interested in discovering what more you can do with design-thinking? We can help you use this methodology in your event strategy. Visit our website to see what we can do for you and contact Max Fellows, MCI Experience’s Director of Client Services, at

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