User Experience at XPLANE is based upon two fundamental beliefs.

First, we believe in expanding the definition of users. Often, in our client work, this means expanding users to include the most critical asset in your organization, your employees.

Second, we believe that making real change to benefit users is infinitely possible with the right story.


We took ourselves to task on both fronts with this quarter’s VTS (Visual Thinking School) event. Portlanders from near and far came out to play with us, literally! We developed a game for the event and dialed it 11 so that we were at a level of ridiculous and silly that everyone enjoyed.

Users were not only employees, but expanded to include your grandmother Florence; Antonio, the single dad; Stacy, a TSA representative; and Sergei, an Uber driver, among others.

  Participants were split into teams and thus commenced an evening of Useroply, a game designed to build foundational empathy and advocacy skills at lightening speed.

We had three card decks: one for users, one for scenarios, and one for constraints. Teams would draw a card from each to determine for whom they were solving, in which scenario, and under what constraint. Teams ran through rapid-fire empathy map and journey map exercises before building a physical mockup of a product or service they felt would improve experience.



The evening culminated in a pitch presentation to the larger group. Each team had to present their work, practicing the art of getting an audience to understand and care about their users.
We were blown away by the ingenuity, energy, and commitment of these teams! We saw visuals, prototypes, role-play, and endless energy in those pitches.



What did we learn from all this?

Anyone can make a pitch to change the world in which they live. Start with empathy. Draw the story. Pick a card. Game on.

Download the Customer Journey Worksheet here.

Big thank you to those who came out and made VTS such a hit!