Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Urban Outfitters

1. I observed Urban Outfitters. They market to primarily college/younger-generation kids.

2. The store entrance is all glass, with large glass doors, and floor to ceiling window panels for walls otherwise. Some clothing on mannequins is displayed in the windows, along with some furniture/pillows/other miscellaneous items. Inside the store, they play trendy music such as The Strokes, and some techno-type music such as Radiohead. The merchandise is displayed mainly on tables constructed of plywood and metal supports, which contributes to the overall almost grungy style of the store. Also, some merchandise is on hangers on the walls, or on racks around the store. The men's section is in the back right of the store, while women's is on the back left and front right. The registers are in the middle, and there is a section for bedding and furniture at the front left. Additionally, there are miscellaneous items all throughout the store, especially around the register. There is only one floor, and you can see to the far wall from the entrance. There are many signs all around, describing sales, prices, or anything else. There is also a wall with fliers and other posts. The cashier area is circular, with registers facing outside the circle. There is a lot of small items such as jewelry or novelty items all around the registers. I would assume these there to get people to buy them while they are checking out.

3. This business projects a hip, stylized, current image that is reminiscent of the grunge style of the 90's. An example of this is the very simplistic tables that the clothing is displayed on. They are made of wood with erector set-like supports. Often they will have dried paint on them as part of the style. Another example is the employees working at the store. They are all young, dressed in trendy clothes (from the store of course), and perfectly reflect the style Urban Outfitters wants the customers to have.

4. Customers read the novelty books scattered throughout the store, sat on some of the couches, and generally made themselves comfortable. The store has a very relaxed atmosphere which helps with this. When looking at clothes, the customers would look through the items, and when they saw a certain one, they would feel it, or otherwise evaluate it. I think most customers upon entering the store went straight back to the rear, where most of the clothes are located.

5. I didn't think the design of the store was anything unique or revolutionary. They had some basic design, such as putting the most sought-after items in the back, and putting small, inexpensive trinkets around the registers, but I didn't notice anything else out of the ordinary. There was plenty of room to look at the clothes, so there wasn't any butt-brushing issues. Also, the store has only one floor, and no isles. It is basically one big room divided primarily by the registers and the sections of merchandise.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Discussion Question Responses

Brandon asked the question: "So, what draws you into a store? What keeps you browsing in that store?"
I think the first thing that draws me inside a store is the products on display in the windows, assuming I am not familiar with the products inside already. I don't want to waste my time in the store if it doesn't sell products I am interested in. Therefore, the display window is my first impression. Once I am inside, I want to be comfortable browsing the products. Therefore, calming colors are good, and some background music. One of the things that turns me away is overbearing salespeople. Usually I just want to look around the whole store myself, and if I need help I will ask for it. In the end, the most important factor that will keep me in a store are products I can relate to and have a need or want for.

Kelsey asked: "According to the article, shoppers are influenced by the positioning of merchandise. How influential do you feel this is on the shopper’s willingness to buy? Can positioning really change the success of a business?"
I think the positioning of merchandise in stores is important for all consumers, but it is absolutely vital for the casual browsers, the people who don't know exactly what they want, and are "just looking around". From a sales perspective, they need to be lead around the store to the items that the business wants to sell most. They have no motivation to actively search for those products on their own, so the store has to be arranged to best present them to the consumer.
Effective positioning of products can make a big difference in the success of a business. For example, if a store averages selling just one pair of jeans to casual consumers, but through careful arrangement of the merchandise sells an additional accessory such as a belt or socks, they can increase their profits greatly. They are selling a product (the socks or belt) that would normally remain on the shelves. Also, the store could arrange their items to promote another pair of jeans. If consumers could be convinced to buy both pairs, the store doubles its profits.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Science of Shopping

This article talks a lot about people's tendencies to touch, or pet articles of clothing before purchasing them, so therefore stores place items on tables to make this action easier. The author explains that this is because we tend to eat, and pick up food on tables, but why are these two actions related? When we sit down to eat, do we poke and prod our food before consuming in the same way we evaluate a shirt or pair of jeans for comfortability? What is it about touch that is so critical in our evaluation of a product?

Friday, November 16, 2007

More Packaging

1. We discussed how packaging can be used to draw consumers' attention to a product. What other purposes does packaging serve? Give examples.
Packaging can be used to protect the product inside, including from consumers (theft), transportation, or otherwise. An example of this is CD cases with electronic ID markers that have to be scanned at the register before it can leave the store without setting off the alarm. Also, packaging can be used to group like objects together, such as a package of skittles.

2. What do these articles suggest about packaging design? Give examples of how modifications to current practices could have environmental benefits.
They suggest that we need to make better choices environmentally as far as packaging material. Many materials used for packaging are not decomposable, and therefore contribute to pollution such as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. consumers on an individual can help by using reusable bags for shopping, picking up trash, and in general cleaning up the area around them.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


1. To what extent is packaging important in marketing a product? Give an example of how a package influenced your decision to buy (or not buy) something.
I think packaging is hugely important in the marketing of a product. Even in television ads, the design of the package is often featured so the consumers know what to look for in the stores. Once they get into the store, the package has to be eye-catching enough to stand out from all of the other products displayed around it. Packaging will often influence my decisions to buy or not buy something. For example, if I see a flashy, name brand product for the same price as another, less flashy product, I would buy the cooler looking package.

2. What other products have iconic packaging?
Other products that have iconic packaging are Mac products (specifically ipods), certain types of alcohol, coke products, orbit gum, and cigarettes.

3. What usability issues exist for packaging? Give examples of particularly good or bad packaging from a usability perspective.
Packaging must first and foremost be very visible and eye-catching, while still retaining their simplicity. It must hold the contents of the package efficiently and effectively, while being relatively easy to open/use. Some bad packaging that I have experienced is a sanDisk mp3 player. The package was awkwardly shaped, incredibly hard to open, and not all that eye-catching. It did not fit comfortably in the hand, and was very off-balance. An example of good packaging, is the ipod. It is a simple, mostly black and white box that draws the eye, and tells the user exactly what to expect on the inside.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Interesting Design

So as part of my Halloween costume, I am using an old helmet I had from my days of aggressive skating and skateboarding. It reminded me of a discussion I had with my dad a couple years ago. The situation was this: I wanted to go on a bike ride, but I didn't want to wear a regular bike helmet since I thought they looked weird. So, my solution was to wear my aggressive skating helmet. It was what all the BMX and pro skating guys (the ones who actually wore helmets...) wore, wasn't it?
But no. My dad would have none of it. He wanted me to wear a real bike helmet, or not go at all. But why? If anything, wouldn't the skating helmet provide the best protection anyways? I mean, it is designed for high speed impact with really hard objects. Handrails, ledges, flat concrete, you name it. It has really thick padding, fits perfectly, and above all, looks really cool! Bike helmets, on the other hand, are light, cheap, sparsely padded, and ugly.
Eventually I won the argument anyways, I think my dad decided it just wasn't worth the trouble. But still... what aspect of the design of the bike helmet, if any, made my dad prefer it over the skating one? Could it be something else, like the history of the bike helmet, and stories of its successes? Who knows...

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Oh, Snap!

What attracted me to the links:
Spencer’s blog- I was interested in learning what changes Dell is implementing to compete with, and learn from, Apple computers.

Robert’s blog- I think the subject of why some products fail in design is very interesting, and that was the first thing Robert mentioned. It also seemed from Roberts commentary that the authors took some of the concepts that Donald Norman talks about, but expanding on them so they are more modernized.

What I found interesting on the sites:
Spencer’s blog- I liked seeing some of the interesting design ideas Dell had for their computers, like an LCD screen on top of the tower.

Robert’s blog- It was cool to see that the article was in interview format, so you could see the complete answers of the designer and the engineer. I liked when they talked about improving upon old products to make a new, better one.

How the site relates to topics in class:
Spencer’s blog- This article talks about many of the same design concepts we covered, including feedback, as in the case of the LCD screen I mentioned earlier.

Robert’s blog- This article relates to class because the authors also have their own principles of design that are similar to Norman’s: Emotion, Aesthetics, Product Identity, Impact, Ergonomics, Core Technology, and Quality.