TOTAL EXPERIENCE explores designing for experience: its theory, its practice, and how designing for experiences affects us socially and in our personal lives.


  • Bob Jacobson
  • Paula Thornton
  • BOB JACOBSON is fascinated by the experience of experience. A planner and technologist, Bob has a Ph.D. in Urban Planning & Design from UCLA. He's been a policy researcher, technology CEO, science writer, and consultant. As a Fulbright Scholar, he studied cellular telephony's impacts on transborder communities in the Nordic Arctic Circle. Bob edited Information Design (MIT Press 2000) and is now writing a book on the theory and practice of creating edifying, transformative experiences.
    ( Archive | Contact Bob )
    CORANTE PAULA THORNTON says, "Understanding human behavior (economics), optimizing interactions (design) and facilitating conversations (markets), are the means to achieve strategic differentiation. This is the focus of our discipline. It is not a 'nice to have'‚ and is not, like documentation once was, an afterthought. It is the means by which to start a strategic discussion and the means by which to drive a tactical initiative. All design should be evidence-based."
    ( Archive | Contact Paula ) >

    (Courtesy of Mark Vanderbeeken, Experientia SpA, Torino)

    Experience Design Websites
    Core 77 Website & Forum
    Business Week|Innovate
    InfoD: Understsanding by Design
    The Wayfinding Place
    Wayfinding Focus
    Design Addict
    L-ARCH (Landscape Architecture Mailing List)
    DUX 2007 Conference
    Digital Thread
    Enmeshed, Digital Arts & New Media
    Ludology (Game Playing Theory)
    Captology, Persuasive Computing
    Space and Culture
    Raskin Center for Humane Interfaces
    timet (acoustical design)
    Steve Portigal, Ethnographer
    Jane McGonigal's Avant Game
    Ted Wells' living : simple
    PingMag (Japan)

    Experience Design Blogs
    Adam Greenfield's Speedbird
    Experience Designer Network (Brian Alger)
    SmartSpace: Annotated Environments (Scott Smith)
    Don Norman
    Doors of Perception (John Thackara)
    Karl Long's Experience Curve
    Work•Play•Experience (Adam Lawrence)
    The David Report (David Carlson)
    Design & Emotion (Marco van Hout)
    Museum 2.0 (Nina Simon)
    B J Fogg
    Lorenzo Brusci (acoustics)
    Cool Town Studios
    Steve Portigal
    Debbie Millman
    MIT Culture Convergence Consortium
    Luke Wroblewski, Functioning Form|Interface Design
    Adam Richardson
    Putting People First (Paul Vanderbeeken/Experientia
    Laws of Simplicity (John Maeda)
    Challis Hodge's UX Blog
    Anne Galloways's Purse Lips Square Jaw
    Bruno Giussani's Lunch over IP
    Jane McGonigal's Avant-Game The Future of Work

    Experience Design Podcasts
    Ted Wells' living : simple Podcast
    Design Matters Podcast, Debbie Millman
    Icon-o-Cast Podcast, Lunar Design

    Experience Design Firms and ED-Oriented Manufacturers
    Barry Howard Limited
    Hilary Cottam
    LRA Worldwide, Inc.
    BRC Imagination Arts
    Stone Mantel
    Experientia s.r.l
    Herman Miller
    Cooper Interactive Design
    Doblin Group
    Fit Associates
    Strategic Horizons LLC (Joe Pine & Jim Gilmore)
    Cheskin Fresh Perspectives

    Education and Advocacy
    Centre for Design Research, Northumbria University (UK)
    Center for Design Research, Stanford University
    International Institute of Information Design (IIID)
    Design Management Institute
    Interaction Institute IVREA
    Design Research Institute (UK)
    UC Berkeley Center for Environmental Design Research
    History of Consciousness, UCSC
    Design News Magazine
    Society for Environmental Graphic Design (SEGD)
    Design Museum London
    Center for Sustainable Design
    Horizon Zero, Digital Arts+Culture in Canada
    Design Council UK
    First Monday

    Total Experience on Technorati
    Technorati Profile

    Get Camino!
    In the Pipeline: Don't miss Derek Lowe's excellent commentary on drug discovery and the pharma industry in general at In the Pipeline

    Total Experience

    « Prisoners in the Digital Panopticon: The Experience of Constant Surveillance -- Or, When Bad Things Beckon to Good Designers | Main | Amazon Kindle: A New Experience Channel »

    December 20, 2007

    Shine Doesn't Matter

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    Posted by Paula Thornton

    Shoes.jpg ...well at least not nearly as much as comfort. It's amazing what a company can discover when they actually do deep research about their products from the customer's perspective. Discovering such facts is fairly significant to your business model when you're in the shoe 'shine' business, like Sara Lee is (gosh, I thought they made great frozen deserts).

    The Wall Street Journal reported today about customer research done two years ago. So what do you do when 'shine' is 17th on the list of 20 related values? You focus on satisfying higher-valued attributes, like comfort.

    If I'd been the WSJ writer I would have questioned Sara Lee about Kiwi's brush with comfort products in 1992: "Kiwi to Market Comfort Insoles to Consumers." I'd want to know more about why they decided on the range of products they're now marketing (what did they throw out?) and how/why they hoped to differentiate these from existing comfort offerings like insoles.

    I'd also want to determine how much they really valued the results of research by asking what they've learned about the adoption of the new products so far (from the consumer's perspective) -- that is, what's been the feedback? I'd ask this, because the original research was initiated and conducted as part of a media/campaign budget, suggesting that ongoing Design Research has not be adopted as a key strategic contributor to their business planning.

    Having continuous access to such facts is critical to adjust a strategic business model: "Today's footwear is made less from leather and more from canvas and synthetic materials. Even the military, one of Kiwi's best customers since World War I, had been moving away from leather, partly because so much fighting now takes place in the Middle East, where desert sand makes canvas more sensible. Most consumers today are more likely to toss out worn shoes than work to keep them in good condition." This is critical information to prepare for a shift in demand for products.

    Amazing that a company's web site can be read like tea leaves, to infer critical things about a business and their agility: Sara Lee doesn't leverage the Kiwi site as a strategic component of their business. How do I know?

    1. Limited content
    2. More importantly, knowing all of the above for 2-years, why are products still organized by: Leather, Suede & Nubuck, Outdoor, Sport, Multi-Purpose?

    I'm buying comfort. Are you selling any of that today?

    Hmmm...the new products are not ON the web site. Wouldn't you want them there first -- particularly since retailers need to know about them to want to order them INTO the stores? Did they miss the obvious when it stared them in the face?

    "And when the Sara Lee sales representatives who call on big retailers like Wal-Mart and Tesco were told they'd have to sell the new products, "they looked at their sales directors like they were mad," Mr. Casa says. "They said, 'Kiwi is a round tin, mainly for men, and now you're coming to us with colorful products called smiling feet. It's not serious.'"

    Indeed, wouldn't you want to 'feature' your new products (and the stories about why they were developed) on your main page as a teaser, particularly on the same day that you've made the pages of the Wall Street Journal?

    What better position to be in than as a writer from WSJ to ask Sara Lee what percentage of their revenue is allocated to the online channel (seems like a reasonable business question). There's got to be a model we could come up with to 'guestimate' a range of investment based on the evidence of the channel as it speaks for itself.

    Doesn't seem to me that Kiwi was ever in the 'shine' business after all -- just polish, and only for shoes.

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