3:35PM May 20 2014

UX is dead – PANIC!!! Or actually don’t….

A colleague recently sent me a link to an article ‘UX is dead’ by Paul Gibbins, Associate UX Director at we are experience. My initial reaction was as follows:

I’d better change my job title.

I’d better read it, rather than get panicked and defensive purely by reading the deliberatively provocative headline title.

Then, read the comments, because let’s face it, they’re amusing.

The article discusses the possible semantics around ‘user’ experience or ‘customer’ experience and explores some of the challenges the UX community faces – it’s well worth a read for anyone interested in UI, customer experience and service design.

As I see it, my role at its very simplest is to represent the thoughts and thinking of any person that will ‘connect’ with whatever it is we are designing – I represent the questions (physical, conscious or unconscious) those people will ask and try to come up with the answers to those questions before we start building it and certainly before it goes live!

More often than not those ‘people’ are not a customer in a retail sense  – they could be stakeholders, clients, shareholders, sales staff, the admin team – the requirements of those ‘people’ still need to be considered as they may impact the overall project. Of course at some stage we group all the requirements and prioritise them, but throughout the process they need to be considered and understood and the experience developed for each. Many of those requirements could well be around achieving tasks so the structure and flow of the experience is essential as well as the individual elements of UI – it’s a sum of its parts – and as the article discusses, the whole needs to be considered as much as the granular detail.

Certainly in my role its less about UI design and has always been more about designing the full experience for those that connect with the product; often that journey includes touchpoints outside of the product that I am responsible for, so it’s essential we understand all the touchpoints and cater for the full journey as much as is in our control. Maybe that’s why Paul’s article actually delights me, it’s important that we craft beautiful UI and individual elements that function as expected, but the experience is what will be remembered – a recent quote from Alan Cooper sums this up incredibly – “Good UX design is an even mix of big-picture strategy & fussy little details. A grain of sand in your shoe is just as bad as the wrong size.”

The very principle that we are designing something that is optimised for its intended audience and will achieve that audience’s requirements, in turn achieving business requirements – that’s not dead, in my opinion it’s more alive and important than ever – we need to consider the impacts of the user’s device, their location, the time of the day they access, the browser they use, the tasks they are intending to carry out, how and if they share it…the list goes on  – the emotional and logistical needs of the audience need to be heard, understood and catered for more than ever.

What we call it or what my job title is – I don’t really mind, as long as we keep on delivering on their goals and needs and creating memorable and engaging experiences.

 

Sarah Herbert
User Experience Architect

 

11:32AM April 30 2014

Taking a fashionable bite out of the high street

Arguably a brand’s perception in fashion retail is more important than any other industry sector.

You may have the best designed, highest quality or best value products in the world, but unless there is true meaning behind your brand in the consumer’s mind, these product benefits are rarely enough to build or sustain a successful retail fashion brand on their own.

This ‘brand meaning’ takes numerous guises; for Fat Face it is making the link to an active lifestyle; with Primark it’s the promise of being up with the latest looks without breaking the bank; with Reiss it’s about creativity meeting design, etc.

So what does this mean in the modern communication landscape?

It is well documented that media has fragmented across many channels and this has been reflected in retail, where consumer behaviour has also diversified. ‘Snackable Shopping’ is the term used to describe how consumers in the retail sector are interacting with brands across many platforms and at lots of different moments throughout the day.

What’s the relevance to fashion retail?

One of our key challenges as marketers is to ensure that our communication strategies are in step with modern consumer behaviour. A consumer’s view of our brand comes from every interaction they have with it and it is evident that in retail those interactions can happen at multiple times in multiple channels.

Whilst paid media can play a role in projecting your brand persona, a broader content marketing approach that looks at all consumer touchpoints is needed. In his ‘snackable shopping’ article, Omaid Hiwaizi outlines that ‘content and information needs to be delivered in bite-sized chunks – easy to understand and to act upon’.

This is something we have been extolling for a while through an ‘Always On’ approach to marketing which is based on the theory that we build relationships with brands in the same way that we build relationships with people: ‘through many, lightweight interactions over time’. Take a look at our view on it here.

With brand perception being so important in fashion retail, communication strategies must be carefully crafted to reflect this consumer behaviour and create real meaning for your brand. By drip feeding them content at relevant times on the right channels you can ensure that you are always at the forefront of the consumer’s mind and an integral part of their world.

Pete Edwards
Strategy Director

If you’d like to see more, have a look at our Fat Face case study.

4:59PM April 17 2014

Easter Antics

We’ve been having loads of fun here at Five by Five before our Easter weekend. We started off our day with some delicious hot cross buns, moved on to Easter chocolates from the Easter Bunny and have had a brain boggling quiz running through the day, with a prize of more chocolate than Willy Wonka’s monthly turnover.

However, we also decided to give a little back and had a collection for Southampton General Hospital’s Children’s Ward. We sent the Five by Five Easter Bunny down from the office to donate some Easter eggs and arts and crafts goodies.

Have a good Easter!

Hospital

4:52PM April 7 2014

Excuse me – where’s the university’s wind tunnel?

Choosing a university is a challenging time for anyone. However, if you’re on the other side of the world – or at the other end of the country – from the university that you’re considering going to, where do you even start your research? The University of Southampton approached us to help them solve this problem for prospective students.

We’ve created a new virtual open day that lets a prospective student take an in-depth look at the impressive educational, sport and recreational facilities available on campus.

By adding a bit of Five by Five magic to the Google Street View API we created a 360 degree panoramic interactive tour of the university campus, facilities and surrounding areas. Using the virtual open-day, prospective students can click on embedded custom markers to launch germane information about the building or room. This can range from a video of a former student talking about a specific course, opening times of sport and recreational facilities, a sneak peek inside the university wind tunnel or even the ability to book a tennis court. It’s fully responsive, meaning the user can swipe through the interactive campus on smartphones and tablets with the touch of their finger.

We first started experimenting with the Google Maps API as part of the agency’s lab time initiative where our development team spent allocated research and development time making sure that we not only understand, but can implement and execute the latest tools and techniques.

We’re delighted to help show how forward thinking an institution the University of Southampton is whilst allowing students to interact with some of their impressive facilities (such as the aforementioned wind tunnel).

To try it out for yourself, go to http://virtualopenday.southampton.ac.uk/. Just try not to spend too long in the Students’ Union!

University image