Tag Archives: user experience

“Virtual” Toy Store

We continue to see retailers creating experiences outside the 4 walls of the store using QR codes to reach customers, enable engagement and make shopping easy. Read more here.

See my last year’s entry on the topic.

Accenture Interactive Mobile Shopping Report

Report: For mobile shopping, personalization outweighs privacy concerns

Check out this report on Mobile shopping. Interesting data. I agree with the perspective of the Accenture Exec:
“The showrooming trend can pose a threat to retailers, given that nearly a third of our respondents make their final online purchases with other stores,” said Baiju Shah, managing director of strategy and innovation for Accenture Interactive. “But consumers don’t want to shop online exclusively and our work with retailers shows that physical stores don’t have to compete on price alone but rather focus on the whole experience. Retailers need to create a seamless, multi-channel experience that blends the digital and physical, and delivers convenience, price and relevance.”

“Virtual Reality” Meetings

My sketch of a next-generation environment. Experience is the same whether you enter the physical room or from a device.

My sketch of a next-generation environment. It looks the same when you enter physically or digitaly from any device.

You might remember second life and shudder. However there were things about it that were compelling and the future is going to see a rise again of virtual reality settings. However like anything old that is new again they never quite come back in the same way (think bell bottoms).

The new virtual worlds will be streamlined for everyday use – assisting in conducting the remotely held boardroom meetings, brainstorming sessions or enabling perpetual “war” rooms. They are a metaphor that everyone can grasp immediately and begin to engage without much of a learning curve. Let’s call them Digital Environments rather than Virtual Reality.

While you can enter the room online you can also walk in to the Digital Environment when you enter a physical room (very Inception-like) seeing content posted by others in the “room” or real-time video of the other participants as they engage and interact. Use any device to engage with the displays.

You won’t need an “avatar” just the ability to see the walls of the room and engage with the frames on the wall. Dropping in content that can be viewed and edited by all… or everyone can do a brainstorm put up post-its from any location. Fun!

This will create a need to provide a context for a new wave of applications that enable people to perform tasks across different end points — but in fun and engaging ways like they are imagining at Innovation Games.

Gucci combines physical, mobile commerce via digital store-in-store

Italian fashion house Gucci is working with Samsung Electronics to offer an immersive in-store experience devoted to the label’s timepieces and jewelry that combines physical and mobile commerce.

“Gucci is essentially providing the ability to learn more about its product line through multichannel approaches with a focus on visual storytelling,” said Dalia Strum, president of Dalia Inc., New York.

“The multiple points of entry to reach as well as educate their consumers establishes a content value across each platform and should result in a stronger return on investment for the brand,” she said.

1) Consumers can scan QR codes placed on Facebook, Google+ and a video on Gucci’s watches and jewelry microsite at http://www.guccitimeless.com to view mobile-optimized content about the new timepieces (see story).

2) The label will push its Bamboo and I-Gucci watch collections via an in-store display with Samsung’s new transparent viewing screens and offer browsing opportunities with a digital shop-in-shop section. Read more on Digital In Store.

UN Creative Economy Report 2010

This UN Creative Economy report builds on the earlier analysis of its predecessor, with new and improved data, showing how creativity, knowledge, culture, and technology can be drivers of job creation, innovation, and social inclusion. It suggests that world trade in creative goods and services remainedrelativelyrobustatatimewhenoverall levels of international trade fell. It analyzes the rapid growth in the creative economy sectors across the South and the growing share of creative sector trade which is coming from the South. By exploring the factors behind this growth and the potential for further expansion of the sector the report provides useful input into the ongoing policy debate on feasible development options.

QR Code’s March to Ubiquity

Best Buy has placed QR Codes (2-D barcodes) on most shelves. Shoppers (or employees) can scan the code to access additional product information, collect products in a shopping cart and compare them. Starbucks uses QR codes for iPhone gift cards. Google is trying to get shop owners to put QR code stickers in their windows to open up that store’s Google Places listing on the window shopper’s cell phone.

Placing QR codes on digital signage can be tricky. I took the photo shown here of a Times Square billboard. There was a large QR code under the cnet sign but my iphone camera couldn’t read it in the dark.

There some decent scenarios on Foxy Propganda’s blog “Top 5 Creative Ways to Use QR Codes”

Creating and Reading Codes
It’s easy to create a QR code. Turn any link in to a QR code when you add a “qr” to the end of any goo.gl URL or any bit.ly URL A new service called Likefy allows marketers to add QR codes to products and signs, and then link those QR codes to a Facebook “like” button.

You can generate your own QR code.

Reading QR codes requires a native application to make them work. See this prior post How They Work: QR Code Basics. The market needs to be educated about them but the applications are vast and awareness is growing.

Likify Window

The overall survey results from this Siegal+Gale Evaluation of 2 different label designs are very interesting but that’s not the point – on page 24 of the report respondents were asked if they would scan the QR code. The table indicates that about 14.5% would have. I would have thought it would have been lower.

Dialog with Gensler: Virtual Retail-ity

I participated in a small event at Gensler last week. Great idea on their part to have these types of events where the invite partners and staff to speak on a topic that is top of mind for their customers.

About 20 customers attended in person at the Gensler office and 100+ people watched the live streaming broadcast. Here is a link to the recording of the session. My preso is about 20 minutes in and I participated in the Q&A which starts about 40 minutes in.

Broadcasting the Event at Gensler

Attracting to a new digital installation

When we thought about the Nanette Lepore Mirror design we had to consider how to “attract” people to the mirror and make sure there was content on it. We had a few ideas that we didn’t end up piloting but we thought would be a fun way to entice people.

1) make it look like someone was washing the mirror
2) have a model look like she was in the mirror and call people over
3) demonstrate the concept in a fun way by having the model act out what we wanted people to do.

Development Teams Benefit Greatly from Watching End Users

It can be quite eye opening for an engineer to observe a customer using the product they designed. Development teams don’t always have an understanding of how their customers use their products. By watching them in test labs or even in the actual environment, engineers can immediately see where the end-user struggles to use their product.

However, introducing a design-thinking approach (user-needs vs feature focus) in the engineering process can be challenging because it means a fundamental shift not only in process but also to an organizations culture. Expanding from metrics of time-to-market of feature sets to metrics inclusive of getting great results from observations, iterative user testing and early market trials requires a new set of considerations. Balancing time to market against ensuring you are meeting end-user needs can feel uncomfortable at first. The process will be slowed down initially by the activities required to gain an in-depth understanding of end-user needs, but once the team has gained this knowledge, the impact can be significant. Teams need to consider what it will take to win and sometimes being there first is a significant consideration, however winning in the long run means delivering a quality experience. Think of the saturated MP3 Player market before Apple got there.

The biggest benefits a team will see from taking a user-centered approach is a reduction in the time it takes to learn how to use the product (fewer service calls), improvements in the experience of using the product (improved net promoter scores) and not least of all being able to anticipate your customer’s needs (launching innovation ahead of your competition). The result of a design-thinking approach is moving from being reactive and constantly trying to keep up to one where the team can anticipate the users needs.

Critical Success Factor
A shift of this sort is not an easy undertaking at a company level. It requires leadership that makes design a strategic priority putting new metrics in place that drive people in the right direction. It also requires hiring new capabilities at the senior levels of the organization and ideally having an organizational structure where the design leaders report to the CEO like the designers at Apple. Apple might be the best example of an user-centered organization but companies like P&G get it.

Getting Started
In my experience what typically occurs in most engineering organizations is team members familiar with the domain write out the requirements based on what they think users need and design the solution based on how they would use it, rarely ever validating with end users. They may get requirements of the target group from interviews, focus groups, surveys and competitor’s feature sets but they scan this information in order to extract the functional requirements. They often discard non-functional requirements including context (environment & regulatory) and needs of the users (what they need to accomplish, how they want to accomplish it and when they want to do it) which are critically important in designing the entire customer experience and in ensuring the product is useful and useable.

Development teams need to embrace design thinking or user-centered design which is a philosophy and process in which the needs, wants and limitations of the end users are given extensive attention at each stage of the development process. The goal is to go beyond user interface design to the design of the entire experience.

The fastest way to make this shift is to add experts to the team that know how to capture the user needs (user researchers, designers, information architects) and can translate them for the team. Get them working along side the engineers so that a more holistic view is taken. The team should consider the problems they are trying to solve for the target audience not just the requirements of the feature set. Apple thought about how people acquire, manage and listen to music – not just a tool to enable them to listen to music.

Upfront usability testing should be done to baseline existing products, understanding what needs to change and to be able to track improvements over time. Once in use in the environment the team should gain an understanding of the current experience using techniques like contextual inquiry and tracking users feedback so that the entire experience is understood.

I encourage a grass-roots efforts where success can be demonstrated and models can be developed that can then be expanded to the larger organization.

Urban EcoMap Launched

UrbanEcoMap launched today! The goal of this site is to empower the citizens of San Francisco with information and tools around the personal activities that produce green house gas emissions (energy, waste and transportation) so they can make informed decisions on how to reduce their carbon footprint. Tools on the site enable them to evaluate scenarios and see the resulting impact. They can build a personal plan based on their lifestyle and the level of effort and cost they are willing to invest. They are given visibility o how their zip code compares to others which we hope will motivate the individuals in the poorly performing neighborhoods to do their part to change their behaviors.

The site design was done in partnership with Level Studios. We strove to make this interface easy to use but the urban information design can ultimately only be as good as the data. Today the data is being drawn from a number of sources including PG&E, department of motor vehicles and the waste management companies. The ambition is to get to real-time data (sensors, mobile devices, etc) because we think that this will have the biggest effect on attitudes and therefore behaviors. We designed the User Interface to be able to accommodate information from additional sources in the future.

Embrace Sketching

Whether you are trying to come up with an new ideas to solve a problem or you’re designing a solution I encourage teams to visualize ideas early and often. Model your ideas first in drawings, create mockups and then move to models or prototypes – make your ideas real all along the way.

Designers often have the clearest idea of what a final solution might look and bringing in this creative capability can enable a project to be elevated from good to great. Don’t be afraid to make it look real – this helps the team to better know what the solution or experience might look like. It helps everyone to better identify potential pitfalls and weaknesses.

“Sketching” is cheap, fast and reworkable. Use white boards, post it notes or Google Sketch-Up. Sketching is a great indicator of progress because chances are if there is complexity in the sketches and diagrams then there will be complexity in the business model, solution or UI. Here is the progression of “sketches” for the Nanette Lepore project.

Check out this post by Guy Kawasaki. Check out this book by Bill Buxton Sketching User Experiences: Getting the Design Right and the Right Design (Interactive Technologies)