Hello there! My name is Marco Gervasio and this is a collection of stories about how interaction design, digital marketing, visual design, and social media can come together to create powerful programs and platforms for a meaningful customer experience. Feel free to reach out to me:



A Humanistic Approach User Experience Design

A friend of mine, a talented professor at renowned McGill University, asked me a few weeks ago if I would be interested in giving a lecture to his students. I was at first surprised since I wasn’t sure what I could possibly present that would be of value to these future professionals. This lecture was part of a special event organized right after the first term of a brand new program called Liberal Arts. This area of study is not new in any way, as there are such programs in other Montreal institutions. But this one wants to be different.

Generally speaking, students who embark in this field will develop various skills such as critical thinking, personal responsibility, well-formed oral and written expression, creativity, and much more. These are developed within one of three intellectual streams:

  1. Literature and the arts (including architecture and theatre).
  2. History, culture and society.
  3. Philosophy and religion.

But unlike other Liberal Arts programs, McGill’s is much more open and experimental, allowing students to study current cultural trends, social movements, political dynamics, and artistic drives. They have the ability to go beyond the classic teachings (of Aristotle, Shakespeare, or Brunelleschi) and include ideologies that represent today’s society. Graduates will typically pursue careers in journalism, law, communications, arts, or even commerce and administration. So in many ways, this program is really preparing for what’s next, not only within the academic milieu but for the real world as well.

It is only after understanding all this that I realized the importance of liberal arts, how much the overall dogma inspires how I work today. I totally saw the implication in owning such skills in my line of work, which focuses on understanding people and creating programs or platforms that provide true value and significance (at least that’s how I see it). So I was inspired to put together a presentation called “Creating Meaning Through Empathy”.

What I tried to demonstrate during my lecture is how the skills these young minds are developing can be used in so many professions, particularly user/customer experience design. Going through my development process and methodologies, as well as a compelling case study, I was able to show how I currently use liberal arts competencies in my daily work (in a more human-centered approach):

  • Literature & History  -  The art of storytelling when developing customer journeys and archetypes, using proper writing skills, imagination, and relatable anecdotes.
  • Culture & Society  -  Investigating present-day trends and beliefs that influence decision-making, understanding how context constantly changes and impacts how we behave as citizens and consumers.
  • Critical Thinking & Reflection  -  Looking positively at problems and seeing opportunities in them, coming up with well thought-out solutions and the creative outputs that will bring them to life.
  • Aesthetics & Visual Communications  -  Leverage beauty and harmony when expressing ideas, always making the effort to produce persuasive and lasting designs.
  • Personal Responsibility & Ethics  -  Having a conscience when taking on new projects, always having a desire to make the right decision, to respect not only humans but the rest of the planet as well.

Preparing for and giving this lecture opened my eyes to the importance of the skills acquired in a liberal arts program. I realized that if we all learned to care more for humanity and life in general, it would make us better people and stronger professionals. I was lucky enough to experience some of theses areas of study in my design program and acquire others by interest.

Another great example came from the other presenter at the event who works in a completely different field than mine: medical. Her presentation focused on how hospitals and most professional who work in them do not deal with patients in humanistic ways. Too often, decisions are made for procedural or business reasons, not for the emotional needs of the sufferers and their families. If they cared a little more, hospital experience would be so different that it is now.

So next time you work on something, open your heart and mind, be curious and daring, appreciate diversity and the beauty in simple things. But most of all, aspire at making a difference and creating meaning.


Marco Gervasio



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