Category Archives: Design

Office Depot Gets Creative with Promotion Info

Sometimes, good customer experience can be as easy as tearing off a magazine.

At this downtown store of Office Depot, the pages of weekly promotion magazine are pasted separately onto this black board.

It looks clean and open, and customers don’t have to flip through the pages by themselves anymore. A smart idea!


Propose Related Items: Identify User Needs for Ecommerce

Smart sales assistants know when and how to introduce “related” products to customers, so that customers can happily buy more. For example, if a customer tries on a pair of boots, an experienced sales assistant might suggest a pair of slim jeans that go perfectly with the boots. If the sales assistant suggests other pants or jeans that don’t match the boots at all, it won’t work.

More and more e-commerce websites are trying to do the same thing.

For example, the other day, I bought a stylus for iPad online. The next day, I received emails from the e-commerce website introducing “other products you might be interested in”. What’s on top of that list? The same style of stylus as the one I just bought, but in different colors.

I can understand that those are of course in the same product group, but I don’t need different colors of stylus unless I am collecting. Besides, I already knew there are different colors when making purchase decisions, so the information sent to me seemed redundant.

In order to make the “related products” really functional, a sound information architecture of the e-commerce websites is vital.

UX/IA professionals should not only have solid knowledge such as taxonomy and content strategy, but also a good understanding of customer buying habits. Such knowledge can be gained through observing in real life, talking with sales people at retail stores, and last but not least, reading books on retailing and sales can also be helpful.

The Right Distance on Smart Phones

Smart phones connected with Wifi/3G make it easier than ever
to share photos onto the web. Just take it, and tap with the fingertip to

However, some interaction designs are not as thoughtful as users expect
them to be…

For example, in this photo as below, the “delete” and “upload” buttons are placed next to each other.

If the finger tip is about the same size as this earphone plug, the possibility of making mistakes is very high. If the user tries to delete but taps the “upload” by mistake, the photo will be uploaded immediately onto the online album. If the user taps on “delete”, the conversation box shows to make sure. Obviously, it is much easier and faster to share than to delete.

Is “share” more important than “delete”? Out of 10 photos we take (especially of
ourselves), how many of them do we want to keep and share, and how many of them do we delete immediately?

When it comes to taking photos on smart phones, the function to “delete” is as important as “share”, if not more important. In other words, don’t let the users lose control over their gadgets.

A “smart phone” isn’t just easy – it is thoughtful.

Hand Sketching Ranks #1

In the pre-meeting of InfoCamp, Paul, an user experience professional, shared the results of the prototyping tools survey.

Prototyping tools survey top-line results:

  1. Hand sketching
  3. Axure
  4. Balsamiq
  5. OmniGraffle
  6. Visio

Ideas 18-2 Storehouse Management in Fashion Stores

There are still many jobs that require a good memory. One of them is the sales assistant in fashion stores.

The storehouses in fashion stores are usually small, compact, and too crowded, as more space is allocated for the display area and fitting rooms. Therefore, it is often difficult to keep everything in good order and easy to find. Imagine a sales girl standing on a ladder or chair trying to find a pair of shoes for the customer waiting outside. It happens every day in a fashion/shoe store. In some stores, the newly recruited sales assistants are asked to sort out the storehouse for their first day, so that they can get familiar with where everything is and find it immediately for customers.

The situation is similar with the luggage deposit at hotels. I remember seeing an angry guest in a five star hotel. She needed her luggage to catch the plane, but the staff wasn’t able to find it for her immediately. The staff at hotels put labels on the luggage for identification, but in order to find the luggage very fast, they still need to memorize where the luggage had been put.

I think a good solution for the storehouse in fashion stores is using RFID tags with an information system. For the user end, I would prefer a RFID tag reader to identify the tags, together with a touch screen for the sales assistants to select the required goods fast and easily. The RFID tags should be able to make “beep” sounds to indicate their locations in the storehouse.

idea, by H.Z.

HP TouchSmart 600 PC

Your World at your fingertips!

A good friend was involved on this project, which makes me feel really proud.^_^

It seems to be designed for home use, but I’ve seen many exciting applications in fashion/shoes stores and companies!

Ideas 18-1 Cashier’s at Grocery Stores

“What kind of pepper is it?” The man at the cashier’s of a grocery store asked me. He had difficulty with the price.

In grocery stores, it seems the staff at the cashier’s has to memorize all the prices of different vegetables and fruits without package. They have to identify different kinds of peaches, tomatoes, peppers, etc.

How to make it easier?

Use labels that can be identified by computer systems:

  1. Paste such labels on each vegetable and fruit.
  2. Put such labels beside the vegetable and fruit so that customers can paste on the plastic bags by themselves.

Use charts/computer systems at the cashier’s:

  1. Place a chart with photos, names, and prices on the cashier’s desk, or a digital one in the computer.
  2. Use a camera to identify the vegetable or fruit. Then, the information is displayed in the computer for the cashier to choose or confirm.

I think, in the near future, identifying systems with cameras will be found in many supermarkets and grocery stores. There will also be computers with touch screen at the cashier’s. Maybe the customers can also order the grocery online in advance..we will see!