Yoyo Blogs, July 2014: User Experience, The Future of Good Digital Design

This week I’ve come across some really interesting insight on the web. After getting stuck in to the depths of various blogs, webinars, and news articles, I believe there is a shift in digital thinking.

The development of technology in the field of smartphones, location tracking, and wearable technology brings with it the ability to gather vast amounts of data to analyse consumer behaviour. What is interesting though, is how designers can now use this information to iteratively better their designs and processes. This iterative design approach based on gathered data is not reserved for product-based tech however; digital products, websites and services are beginning to analyse their consumer’s behaviour to better the overall user experience.

When an unexpected company adopts ground-breaking technology, it becomes evident we have begun a period of change. Disney has recently invested over $1bn dollars on the ‘My Disney’ experience, where a smart wristband is given to each customer that has chosen to be involved in the service. Each band has a unique identifier that relates to the person wearing it. This allows the user to perform a whole manner of functions  such as alerts for small queues on rides nearby to their location,  opening hotel doors at their resort, to even telling you when your table reservation is ready. These notifications are based on the outlined preferences that the customer had set up before their holiday, for example their likes, interests and favourite restaurants etc. The device is constantly collecting data about the user, which can be analysed to scientifically understand their behaviour.

Disney's MagicBand Technology in use in the theme park

Disney's MagicBand Technology in use in the theme park

The technology also allows for proactive customer service, for example, a message can be sent to a performing artist in the park who is also wearing a band. The actor is notified of a child’s birthday who is in their vicinity, and then greets them wishing them a happy birthday; all completely independent of any prior set-up from the parents. The overall result creates a seamless, memorable customer experience.

In the past, designers and website owners would have to rely on qualitative data to measure any digital product or service, which although valuable, is a labour intensive process to act upon, and then repeat. Now designers can take advantage of vast amounts of quantitative data to scientifically place against their designs, which can be analysed, and used to bring positive iterative improvements to the design experience.

Consumers now demand seamless customer experiences, which, is a logical, realistic expectation based on their needs. Consumers’ expectations are now higher than ever. In fact 68% of UK and US consumers expect their information that is in one place, to be available in another. For example account details for an online retail store should be accessible when the customer is in the shop on the high street.

The combination of new technologies, and a ready supply of quantitative data, has led to a change in attitude towards the design of these experiences.  Many digital start-ups that have become global success stories, have built themselves upon a ‘design foundation’ e.g. Kickstarter, Etsy, and Airbnb to name but a few. Big companies now are starting to follow suit, such as Google and Facebook, as both companies have recently headhunted the best members of staff that they can find from high-profile, design-based locations. Recently, an ex- Apple designer who was on the team for the first iPhone now works at Facebook, and led the team responsible for the creation of the ‘Paper’ app.


Google's 'Material Design' Design philosophy promotes seamless experiences

Google's 'Material Design' Design philosophy promotes seamless experiences

Another good example of a company that provides a well-designed digital product is Google; their ‘Drive’ and ‘Docs’ platforms provide a solid user journey when accessing the same information on different devices. The information that is displayed is relevant to the device, and situation that it is viewed from, i.e. the ‘context’. Their service is instantly familiar to the user when accessed from any device; it behaves almost as if each device is a ‘window’ into the same user experience. The cloud-based platform also allows for seamless collaboration between colleagues, as the document is accessed from a web address, no software is required, merely an internet browser.

By imagining a product or service as a user experience, an appropriate design solution can be found for customers accessing information from a specific device. Interestingly, some companies are taking a deliberate move away from responsive website design to achieve a more appropriate design solution. This is driven by user need and the context in which the information is accessed. A responsive website may be suitable for desktop, but the browsing experience may fall short for users when accessing relevant information on their tablet or smartphone.

"Some companies are taking a deliberate move away from responsive website design to achieve a more appropriate design solution - this is driven by user need"

I think that this approach of context based design is likely to increase when a broader range of devices enter the market. When wearable products become more mainstream, a ‘contextual approach’ will be taken to provide relevant content to those devices. Lufthansa Airlines have taken this route, and are an advocate of mobile-centric design; they offer a mobile specific website, rather than a responsive site. This enables certain features to be made more prominent in the mobile site. Their research suggests that a user accessing the site on a mobile device is much more likely to have already made a purchase, and therefore their needs are more centred around flight information.  Whereas a user accessing the site on a desktop has yet to make a purchase, so would be more interested in browsing flights and locations. This approach of course would take more investment, with difficult choices at times, but it is important to look to other solutions, and understand that responsive website design isn’t the be-all-and-end-all solution.

The coming years will be exciting to be a part of, as you could argue things have possibly been a little stale in the mobile arena for a few years. However, with the introduction of new analytical tools, and a new consumer perception of good design, things are set to change for the better. So it is important to be open to the options available when the consideration is taken to upgrade to a new digital platform, and also to be aware of the complete customer journey from beginning to end. Many of the examples given here are angled towards the ‘retail journey’ but what is key to take from it, is to have an awareness of the customer journey, the context of how they are accessing your content, and to provide a well-designed around it.

Yoyo Blogs, October 2013: Back to School

So I thought I'd begin to update my old site, its been laying dormant for a while, which is unhealthy at best! I have written a few blogs for the company I am working for at the moment called 'Yoyo Design' a small digital design team in Tunbridge Wells. The first blog I wrote is below - my first week back in October, Enjoy!

So, day one, week one, another Matt joins Yoyo towers. It’s my first week as a design intern, the first proper step into the world of graphic design; a world of creativity, white walls, hardwood floors, Space Invader crisps, and Sulley; the loyal office pooch.

I met Rich whilst walking up to the front door of the Yoyo offices. He was juggling his breakfast between both hands - not that he knew I was to join him when walking up the street. I narrowly avoided spilling his  coffee for the first handshake, no-one needs a hot shower of double espresso at 8:45 on a Monday morning…that could’ve been a bit awkward.

'No-one needs a hot shower of double espresso at 8:45am'

After having a guided tour around Yoyo towers and settling in, I was placed into creative thinking mode, brainstorming ideas for clients in need of a cheeky bit of inspiration for their upcoming campaigns or projects. It was a great way to begin my tenure with Yoyo, getting my brain muscles working to hopefully get some good ideas on paper, but also to warm myself up! The Yoyo offices’ heating had packed up over summer, so the first week it was pretty chilly! 

Halfway into my first week, all was going well. After having a couple of discussions with the team a few weeks ago before I started I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I already felt at home. …However, my photo on the website seems to suggest otherwise! (See left). Of course, from the range of photos we’d just taken, I willingly chose the pose when it was displayed full screen on Gregg’s iMac, and it was swiftly uploaded to the Yoyo site, immortalised as the “troubled” intern… I’ll work on that over the next few months I’m sure, it’s on my to-do list.

I completed my degree at Brunel University, where I studied Industrial Design. As every graduate knows, it can be difficult once you’ve completed your course, to get your foot on the ladder in your chosen field. There is a very strong desire to apply the skills you’ve learnt over the previous three or four years and to begin using them in a commercial environment, to at least justify the biblical £28k loan that has mounted up. At least I’m now at the beginning, working towards a career as a designer. It seems a world away from the early morning two hour lectures with a storming hangover, or student dinners consisting of 15p Tesco-value tomato and “sausage” pasta sauce (minus the pasta).... nutritious.

That I do not miss.

'Student dinners consisting of 15p Tesco-value tomato and “sausage” pasta sauce'

Anyway, time to put my skills to the test so that I can become a valued member of the Yoyo team. Time to roll my sleeves up, pull my socks up, and put my best foot forwar…. oh bugger I’ve tied my shoe laces together.

Stay posted for more updates of my yoyo adventures!

 

This Blog was originally written by myself for Yoyo Design, the original link can be found here. 

Flickr

After buying a new camera, I thought I'd get involved on the world on flickr. You can check out my new pictures by clicking the button below, in the meantime, here are a few pictures from the the first upload.

William Dunlop

As you can probably tell, I'm in a bit of a TT mood at the moment. Already can't wait for next year, albeit it's not until June. Bugger.

Looks like a veryyy long winter ahead...!

In the meantime, here is a TT Poster using one of my pictures from the 2011 TT of William Dunlop. 

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Trunch Brewery

A quick logo here (left) revamped from a picture (right) for the 'Trunch Brewery' - a long since defunct brewing Company based in North Norfolk, made for a friend who liked the original bottle label, but missed out on their eBay purchase!

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Hedge.

Michael Dunlop here at the Cookstown 100, a little Irish Road race where they really can get this close. 

Again, the image is not mine, and the rights / copyright go to a fantastic TT photographer called Stephen Davidson, the daddy when it comes to Road race photography, you can check his other work out here

or contact him at: http://www.pacemakerpressintl.com

 

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Cameron Donald

A quick play here with Illustrator, again based around the TT.

Just to say on a boring note - the image is not mine, and all rights copyright etc are held with the makers of 'TT 3D Closer to the Edge' 

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Closer to the Edge

Here was a quick experiment using drop shadow in InDesign, based around the TT, using the title from the TT documentary film, 'Closer to the Edge' and a picture I took at this years TT, at a corner called 'Ginger Hall' .

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Now that's just silly. 

Sunset in Kent

Ahh, how romantic, a sunset over the North Downs, in Kent.

Pretty glad I was on my own then when I took this picture... penniless and alone... 

On a serious note, This photo was taken with a Nokia Lumia 920 Smartphone, Each time I use it, it really impresses. If you treat it like a fixed lens, i.e. ignore the digital zoom, the picture quality is very impressive.

Of course as its a little lens it does get overwhelmed, so all the detail in the picture (especially taking directly into the sun here) can be lost at times, but overall as a fast digital snapper, it really can perform.

It might not quite be a perfect picture, but the thing that caught me were the colours, The hue of this image hasn't been altered at all, just a natural deep orange sky.

Lovely.

Jolly Good....

Another project I'm working on at the moment, I swear sometimes its like spinning plates! ... And worryingly I was never good at that when I had a go at it when I was a kid, pretty glad they were plastic. 

Anyway... This is a wedding gift box/crate/summer/hamper/bbq/set (delete as appropriate) I'm designing for a friend, he wanted a name and a logo for the exterior of the wooden box for his friend who is getting married.

Very much work in progress, thought I'd take a snapshot while I'm working on it. A bit last minute, with the work coming to me as the wedding is in 3 days time! - Everyone loves a good deadline though!

More to follow when we're  bit further down the line. 

 

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Later on that day...

So here is the final artwork, a bit rushed but it did the job. We spoke about the gift set needing to be less masculine, as it was solely aimed at BBQ items etc, so instead it became more of a 'summer food set' aimed at the couple, rather than just manly steaks and burger pressers for the groom. Hopefully the artwork below that will sit on the lid of the crate reflects that. Ideally we will stencil the design straight onto the wood, but without a laser cutter, it could be a touch difficult, hopefully a couple more pics will follow to show the final crate. 

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CMY... K

Just a quick play with Illustrator, more of these to come, enjoy!

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What a view...

Always have a camera ready! - Thought I'd share a picture taken on my girlfriends dads camera last November on Bournemouth beach front. The week had been fairly cloudy as I remember it up until then, but this was the result by the weekend.

Get out there and get snapping...

Just bring a brolley.

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The obligatory first post: TGI Fridays...

So here we enter the world of the blogo-sphere, welcome internet...

I thought I'd begin my first post about (broadly speaking) TGI Fridays. This wont become a gastro ramble by any stretch of the imagination, it was to take a look at the idea of the 'themed national restaurant', as an idea of the country it is trying to represent. What I find interesting about this style of food jaunt, is the question of what the interior design of each restaurant is trying to say about the country of origin. Whether there is a social commentary, or strictly just decoration.

After eating at TGI's a few times over the past few years, I've often thought - if done properly, what a fascinating job it must be to act as a buyer for some of the decorations and artefacts as part of the overall interior design for one of their new restaurants. One question I find myself asking in such a place is "what are they trying to sell as an experience to the british or  international consumer?". 

Ever since the 50's that through numerous channels, be it products, music, or fashion; the exportation of Americanism became attractive to other developed countries around the world, both in Europe and the far east. Quite often whenever you walk into an American themed bar, the standard Harley Davidson is in attendance, along with the obligatory college football sweatshirts, electric guitars, and surf boards. One could argue that is a semi - Californian portrayal rather than the broader social landscape of the rest of America. I suppose its an idealist suggestion or overview of the country, rather than a deep political or cultural commentary, an image that is most likely to appeal and therefore sell to the target consumer.

The risk of course is that for a business to be based solely upon the nationalism of one country, increases when a political event could lead to consumer opinion changing about specific brands tied to country. At the announcement of the invasion of Iraq in 2003, many europeans boycotted American owned businesses, sparking riots in Paris towards McDonalds, and taking Coca-Cola products off of the menu in restaurants in Berlin. Whether this really has an impact on sales figures is unlikely, but the power of the consumer, and their views should not go unnoticed.

If the boot was on the other foot, what would exported 'Britishness' look like? how would we sell ourselves in the Americas or elsewhere? In 2012 the UK Foreign Office attempted to do just that, brand 'Great Britain' exporting the idea of the nation to the rest of the world, portraying the country as a 'still' great nation, an attempt to place ourselves in the past and future of what the country can offer, the Great British Pub could fall into that category...

To summarise then, it seems that most modern international themed restaurants may decorate themselves to attract the consumer first, social commentary second. Which leaves the reserved idea of the exported British Pub a lot of work to do.

It could be a good starting place however, just make sure you get the home brew going out the back to get the punters in!

M