Ziba Design

What can others learn from the successes and failures of the way you’ve bridged the digital and physical realms?: 

We learned several lessons over the course of this project, but the most important is probably that there can be great value in small shifts. For the Gear Case, we started with a very small, simple proposal: what would happen if you took a digital display and overlaid it on a product, rather than just having a touch display off to the side. It seems like a small difference, but we suspended our disbelief enough to at least mock it up, and immediately realized that the visceral impact was huge. The second big lesson is to pay attention to those visceral, gut responses, especially when you’re working in a retail environment, where so many our reactions are emotion-driven. There’s a tendency in User Experience to seek high-level justification for all of our decisions, and it’s often helpful – it makes us sweat out the details, and ensure we’re building something that holds together more than just visually. But there are also a lot of cases where the experience is all about the moment: the way it makes you feel, whether it excites you and draws you in. Adding a tactile element to an interaction can open opportunities to make these moments great, but it’s important to trust your gut reaction when you experience it yourself…and then to work non-stop refining until it’s as satisfying as possible.

What value for users did the way you bridged the physical with the digital add to the experience that couldn’t have otherwise been achieved?: 

On the face of it, the Gear Case is just a combination of two elements already common in retail: a product display case and an informational touchscreen tablet. What we realized, though, is that placing these two elements side-by-side was forcing customers to shift their attention back and forth between absorbing abstract information and examining a very real object. It missed a larger opportunity to connect the story and details directly to the object itself, and let customers feel like they’re exploring and discovering themselves, rather than just having facts handed to them by a digital pamphlet. The general takeaway is that focus matters: if I’m looking at an object, and I have to keep breaking my gaze to find external information, it’ll always feel abstract and disconnected – it forces me to integrate the story with the object, often unsuccessfully. If I can maintain my focus, though, the story is natural and integrated. It’s far closer to the way we learn about things in everyday life, through direct examination rather than a detached document.