Saturday, August 25, 2007

Would your store look good on the silver screen?

That's what experience design buff Adam Lawrence asks in a recent post to his blog, Work * Play * Experience. Specifically, Lawrence ponders what kind of insights we can learn about experience design by literally changing our perspective, and walking through a store/room/building looking through a camera. His advice: get a video camera and walk through your venue filming. By using only the camera viewport for navigation, you'll be drawn to details that you'd probably miss if walking through normally. As an added advantage, you can review the film later, pause, rewind and even invert the image to look for other flaws, details and areas that could use some improvement.

The idea stems from a technique used in film production. A good director knows that by looking through his viewfinder he's seeing what the audience will eventually see. A novice director, on the other hand, will watch the scene as it unfolds right in front of him and will thus mentally includes extra "stuff" that might make the scene better or worse, but will never make it onto the big screen. The idea extends well into a retail environment, especially for merchandising and retail marketing experts who often visit stores. Predisposed by years of experience to look for certain things -- shadows, lighting, traffic patterns and the like -- even a good retail designer can miss obvious flaws and details because they're outside of the scope of what he's looking for. By forcing the designer's perspective to change by using a camera viewfinder, it's more likely he'll look in different places and notice different things because there are fewer expectations of what the environment should look like.

Lawrence also recommends doing the same thing on your knees or in a wheelchair to get an idea of what a wheelchair-user or even a child's perspective of the same space might be. This is especially good advice for store designers whose primary customers are children and their parents. What might look good for one set of (physically similar) shoppers could be less attractive or even intimidating for another.

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Adam said...

Thanks for picking up on this! AndI think you expressed the idea far better than I did! ;)

If your readers like my ideas, they might enjoy my ebook. It's all about what business can learn from showbusiness...

It's short, it's free and it's here:



Bill Gerba said...

Hi Adam,

Thanks for the input. I definitely think you've hit on a great idea relating theatrical practices to experience design... they're practically one in the same these days, but I think a lot of people miss the connection (I certainly did until happening across your blog).

I actually posted on your ebook before, here.

I'd recommend it to anybody who's seriously researching experience design, retail or otherwise.

Adam said...

Well, than thanks again! I missed out on your previous post.

But I'm a regular reader from now on!