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How Adidas, Citi and Destination XL leverage native design via mobile: Acquity Group

NEW YORK ? Companies such as men?s big and tall clothier Destination XL and famed sporting goods manufacturer Adidas have created integrated mobile experience designs that deliver holistic product and interaction solutions which, according to executives from Acquity Group and Fjord, can be a model for how companies turn frustration into delight.

Speaking at Forrester?s Forum for Customer Experience Professionals East, the executives underscored how the role of any designer is behavior change. Rather than aspiring to influence consumer behavior from a distance, more and more companies want their product offerings to have a more immediate impact through social engagement, though there still remains a majority that are hesitant to pursue. 

?In order to enhance an experience you need to spend time observing customers and their devices and frustrations,? said Olof Schybergson, CEO, Fjord.

?They may love a brand but are so frustrated by an experience. So the creative solution introduces digital into the experience.?

?If I just read research and studied things from the outside instead of seeing people and being with them, I really wouldn?t understand the frustration and pain points of the customer,? he said.

Walk a mile
Committing to direct behavior design means straying from traditional user-centric designs which provide the foundation for almost all product designs today.

Customer feelings and behaviors are at the center of the ?customer experience.? Designing inspiring experiences becomes a mission to feel as the customer feels as companies seek to aspire to architect a shift in reality for the customer.

During the Going Native segment, executives stressed that traditional user-centric designs are based on a rich and nuanced understanding of observed and assumed user needs, however while the approach considers many dimensions of the UX such as emotional needs and motivation, the company is still removed from the action.

Although behavior and social practice can be influenced by a product or service from a distance and may place the user at the center of development, companies truly need to become empathetic and walk a mile in their customers? shoes before designing an experience. With a user-centric design, developers do not often use their own values as input.

Destination XL shoppers reportedly became embarrassed and exhausted by trying on multiple outfits in-store. Using tagalong visits and conducting sales associate interviews, a digital virtual interface was created to show how different outfit combinations would look based on a size profile. So customers of the big and tall can more easily find what they are looking for, table and tablet applications display available products relevant to entered measurements.

Similarly, when developing its iPad app, Citibank also partnered with Fjord to take a service design-led ?rather than technology-led? mobile approach to maximize the potential of the tablet and the new user behavior it presents. While users demand clear and reliable personal finance tools, the challenge was also to move the banking experience beyond the mere presentation of account information. A truly innovative product would empower users and genuinely help them make smart financial decisions.

Healing vs fixing
Empathy is central to understanding behavior change and consequences because it anticipates the effect of actions on others and allows for an experience of those emotions.

Adidas has done this particularly well in the development of its smart miCoach products which feature connected sensors embedded into wearables and equipment to hone technique.

The GPS watch dons a built-in optical heart rate recognition which is optically measured at the wrist, rather than requiring a user to wear a heart rate strap. Adidas spent a lot of time designing the strap against small wrists, as this is a common problem for certain ethnic groups and women and all the operations take place on the touch screen and disable the need to look anywhere but straight ahead when switching options, unlike the use of an iPod/iPhone strapped into an armband which sits almost below shoulder and requires awkward movements and disrupts running to use.

While many companies prefer to work within professional design practice, changes may come sooner than anticipated, especially considering the urgency and growing awareness by consumers to desire products not only designed, but tested with them in mind. Designers as researches become advocates.

?There is no substitute for actually being someone in the moment and in a retail environment,? Mr. Schybergson said.

?To build a truly amazing solution the answer is by going native. Really what we want is to inspire designers to come up with a design solution by being researches and advocates that run and sleep in customer?s shoes to create positive change.?

Final Take
Michelle is editorial assistant on Mobile Marketer, New York