Tuesday, June 26, 2007

On the ground running: Lessons from experience design

Experience design lessons from Adobe ...

"The long-standing distinctions between products and services are beginning to break down. Traditionally, a product was physical and discrete, something obviously demarcated in space and time. The designer's brief rarely encompassed more than the form of an object, and use would be considered only in terms of a narrow range of scenarios. But, driven by lightweight and ubiquitous networking and the open standards it gives rise to, all of this has started to change: no longer can the designer of any product assume that it will stand on its own, autonomous and serenely uninvolved with the wider world.

The already-classic example is the product-service ecology Apple devised for their iPod. Considering the close integration between iPod, the physical device, iTunes, the desktop application, and iTunes Music Store, the online environment. Their stroke of genius—and it's easy to see it as such now, in retrospect—lay in positioning the iPod not as a stand-alone device, but as the tangible aspect of a much more ambitious experience. Apple grasped, before any of their competitors, that evoking a pleasurable experience of use transcended questions of the placement of controls or the sequence of menu items, as important as these things are. It required a consistent experience extending from the moment you opened the iPod's box for the first time to finding new music for it on the iTunes service.

There are key insights here. The first is that the product is no longer an isolated entity, but a way of gaining access to content which might ultimately live elsewhere. The second is that getting this “product” right means accounting for your interactions with it across multiple channels over time.

In the iPod ecology, then, we have traditional industrial- and interaction-design concerns interwoven with elements that have more usually characterized the architecture of services. When you consider that such interweavings of product and network are becoming increasingly common in our day-to-day lives—you can give an older cellphone entirely new features by blowing updated firmware into it, and certain models of Lexus automobiles now come with a subscription to real-time traffic information—the time would appear to be ripe for a new kind of designer with the skills to choreograph these new interactions."    (Continued via Adobe - Design Center)    [Usability Resources]

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