Apple, Ikea and their integrated IA

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The design of a physical space can and should take advantage of information architecture (IA) deliverables, in particular when designing an integrated model of IA. The user must be able to …

The design of a physical space can and should take advantage of information architecture (IA) deliverables, in particular when designing an integrated model of IA. The user must be able to easily-consult […] technology-dependent environments, e.g. digital medium or printed paper catalogue, in line with the information flow conveyed through the website.
Conveying the relevance of information to the user/consumer by means of applying information architecture principles with a view to designing a crisscross-connecting model of human-information interaction is the focus of this work.

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  • 1. Europe's Fourth Information Architecture Summit Amsterdam, September 26-27 2008 Paper available at http://davidepotente.com/apple_ikea_integrated_ia.pdf Davide Potente & Erika Salvini ----------------------------------------- Apple, Ikea and their integrated information architecture
  • 2. Introduction
  • 3. Apple integrated IA
  • 4. Apple bridge experiences and crossing IA
    • Close analysis of Apple website and the Apple Retail Store highlights the role of information architecture in building bridge experiences.
    • IA can cross various contexts of experience with the objective of defining a unique human-information interaction model by means of proper organisation of information flows and tasks.
    • The website and the store share a common information organisation - outside of their obvious and necessary interface differences.
  • 5. Apple bridge experiences and crossing IA
    • Inside the store, lcd video screens might be provided in the particular area to demonstrate the products on sale, its specifications and any related accessories - highlighting products corresponding to the visited area of the store.
    • In addition, the retail store could promote the most requested line of accessories on the website, so that popular selections/ purchases made by online users can also be offered in the physical retail space.
    • Visual design of menu on lcd screens should reflect the website visual design menu for information-seeking processes, in order to convey consistency and continuity.
    Visual design of menu on lcd screens
  • 6.
    • The location of a particular product within the retail space can be clearly indicated and displayed on the lcd video screens.
    • Such information is helpful to the client in that it provides a clear idea of how to reach the product sought within the retail space:
    • this is an example of how to effectively and efficiently incorporate wayfinding strategies in the information-seeking process.
    Apple bridge experiences and crossing IA
  • 7.
        • People who looked for this product also looked for:
        • People who bought this product also bought:
    Apple bridge experiences and crossing IA
  • 8.
    • Staff-worn coloured t-shirts have recently been introduced in all Apple Retail Stores. Each colour is representative of a specific competence:
    • light blue t-shirt: specialist
    • dark blue t-shirt: creative and genius
    • orange t-shirt: concierge
    • polo shirt: business partner
    • black t-shirt: stockroom staff.
    • Incorporating a strategy of coloured t-shirts can be considered an effective way to convey a crossing information scent .
    • On the Apple website every product could be followed by replicating the colour combination used for the staff .
    Information scent and coloured t-shirts
  • 9.
    • Bridge experience is defined by a unique mental model the user can keep through a range of contexts, thus ensuring homogeneous interaction .
    • To convey this homogeneity, people need signals and cues connecting the digital world to the physical space: textual contents can offer a great help to obtain this consistency .
    Contents for Bridge Experience
  • 10. IKEA integrated IA Davide Potente & Erika Salvini - EuroIA 2008, Amsterdam
  • 11. Ikea integrated information architecture Davide Potente & Erika Salvini - EuroIA 2008, Amsterdam Ikea’s actual approach to information is managed in different ways, according to the context: either the products’ catalogue, the website or the retail stores.
  • 12. Ikea integrated information architecture
    • Customers are actively involved in the shopping experience.
    • For this reason it is even more important to create bridge experiences , which facilitate the passage from one domain to another .
    Davide Potente & Erika Salvini - EuroIA 2008, Amsterdam They begin by choosing their products at home on the website or on the paper catalogue, then they collect their products at the store, and the final step would be to assemble the items by themselves.
  • 13. The catalogue Davide Potente & Erika Salvini - EuroIA 2008, Amsterdam The annual products’ catalogue is built on a hierarchic-enumerating classification: 15 classes highlighted by different colours and relative subclasses.
  • 14. The catalogue Davide Potente & Erika Salvini - EuroIA 2008, Amsterdam
    • Characteristics:
    • Use of several division’s criteria.
    • Interference of different categories causing products’ repetitions displays.
    • No hierarchical relation of some subclasses with related classes (for example Flooring is under the class Textiles ).
    • Labelling imprecision, found in the Italian catalogue, causes confusion and doubts.
    • We can affirm that the catalogue’s information architecture is theoretically incoherent and chaotic , from a scientific point of view.
  • 15. The matter of coherence Davide Potente & Erika Salvini - EuroIA 2008, Amsterdam
    • Does this classification works anyway for Ikea customers?
    • Is it suitable for Ikea context?
    • The main catalogue’s classes are created on customer’s demands and human cognitive models. For example:
      • A potential buyer looking for a double bed will normally refer to the class “Bedroom”. But if the same customer wants to buy a cot for his baby, the same category wouldn’t be so obvious. The class “Children’s IKEA”, in this case, is a more appropriate reference.
    • 2 . The categories’ order follows the degree of importance: the first ones are the most marketable according to business strategies and sales.
    • The taxonomy is perfectly coherent from the empiric-pragmatic point of view , which is the most important to make the information retrieval easier.
  • 16. Redesigning the catalogue Davide Potente & Erika Salvini - EuroIA 2008, Amsterdam
    • In order to overcome the hierarchical relations’ infraction and ambiguous labelling problems, it’s important:
      • to create clear and suitable labels in appropriate language
      • to establish subclasses for each class in order to respect human mental associations
      • to avoid classes’ crossover
  • 17.
    • So, the new catalogue’s taxonomy should introduce these changes:
    • “ Kitchen” and “Dining” categories can be combined, as it happens inside the retail store. The same criterion can be used for “Wardrobes” and “Beds”: people usually associate them because of a matter of space. Someone who decides to buy furniture at Ikea, probably is not the owner of a big, luxury house.
    • Bigger attention to imprecise labels translation (found in the Italian catalogue) which may lead to misunderstandings and wrong interpretation.
    • Elimination of “Buying guides” category at the end of the catalogue. The technical information would be better consultable if attached at the end of each.
    Davide Potente & Erika Salvini - EuroIA 2008, Amsterdam Redesigning the catalogue
  • 18. Towards a transverse IA Davide Potente & Erika Salvini - EuroIA 2008, Amsterdam
    • To obtain an integrated model of information’s architecture we need:
    • to use the same product’s classification in the three domains (paper catalogue, website and retail store)
    • to set the same distinctive colour proper of each category in all three domains (for example, colours can be used for the main menu’s buttons on the website, and also for the admittance walls and floors of each department of the retail store).
  • 19. Towards a transverse IA Davide Potente & Erika Salvini - EuroIA 2008, Amsterdam
    • Moreover, web advantages can be transferred to the retail store. We suggest three interventions:
    • more accesses to departments, following a sort of faceted classification;
    • maps’ collection and information points to make customers’ mobility easier, to make them aware of their position inside the store (wayfinding) and to let them be aware of the way they’ve walked through (breadcrumbs);
    • installation of LCD screens in the central area, showing products and offers with relative characteristics and giving information on the items pick up point area (findability).
  • 20. Redrawing the map Davide Potente & Erika Salvini - EuroIA 2008, Amsterdam
  • 21. Redrawing the map The actual internal path within the store is obligatory. It could be too long and boring, especially at weekends, when stores are crowded and the shopping experience becomes quite stressful. This kind of interior space design is built on a market strategy: increasing the amount of time spent by customers inside the store to improve sales. It may be partially true, but it is not scientifically proved. Providing separate access to floors and direct access to departments could be a better option, still maintaining the possibility of a whole explorative route. Moreover the aim of the market strategy could be reached anyway maintaining low cost products’ display close to the storehouse and in front of cashier desks. In this way, even hurried or distracted customers could be tempted to buy those items. Davide Potente & Erika Salvini - EuroIA 2008, Amsterdam
  • 22. Redrawing maps Davide Potente & Erika Salvini - EuroIA 2008, Amsterdam Map showing the current internal path. Ikea’s map redesign to provide a crossing wayfinding strategy by the use of colours and labels.
  • 23. Redrawing maps
    • Example of LCD screen homepage: offers would be highlighted and catalogue’s categories would be displayed using their respective colours.
    Davide Potente & Erika Salvini - EuroIA 2008, Amsterdam
  • 24.
    • Page description diagram allows for the description of content areas of a web page in prose, as in a functional specification (Dan Brown 2002).
    • Specifications are arranged following an order of priority and can be followed by mini-layouts to give more details about a specific feature on the page.
    • A page description diagram is useful in showing priorities and defining a context by providing useful information on contents and functionalities for the visual design of every single web page.
    From page description diagram (PDD) to ADD
  • 25. From PDD to area description diagram (ADD)
    • The purpose of the area description diagram (ADD) is to establish an environment for contents and functionalities in a physical space.
    • This is an example of area description diagram for Apple Retail Store. It shows suggestions conveying information architecture principles to provide a retail design that is part of the crisscrossing model of human-information interaction.
    • It also can highlight connections between different contexts:
    • navigational menu related to wayfinding cues
    • posters that work as product previews on the website
    • support areas coherent with related website sections.
  • 26. Crossing area description diagram
    • The area description diagram could be considered as a sort of tool for verifying IA coherence. It can highlight the conceptual model underlying a new kind of design: the process design defined by organizational and interaction models.
    • Considering other sections of the Apple website like the one related to Mac computers it becomes possible to analyse further connections between digital and physical environments.
  • 27. Crossing area description diagram
    • Organizational and human-interaction models are merged in a unique process conveyed through a clear bridge experience. Users therefore receive a seamless and continuous experience between the digital and the physical environments.
    Apple Retail Store
  • 28. Crossing area description diagram Apple home page / Retail Store Apple Mac web page / Retail Store:Mac
  • 29. Conclusions
    • The Ikea case study focuses on how to organise and design information to allow its users to easily locate what they are looking for leading them from the web to the store.
    • The Apple case study focuses on the possibility of charting information within their related areas in a physical space and on web pages, with a view to highlighting interconnections between them and to highlight how people interact with information and across these environments .
    • These considerations emphasise the role of users and their evolving needs : people can improve the design process making suggestions of what they need in terms of functions and contents, also the way they recognise the information and interact with them.
    • From websites to retail stores, from digital interfaces to physical ones, why would not users play a more proactive role in the overall design and the consequential bridge experiences they create and crisscross in everyday life?
  • 30. Conclusions… the real ones
    • Participatory design strategy is the answer because it offers an approach to design that attempts to proactively involve the end users in the design process and help ensure that the product designed meets their needs and is usable .
    © Copyright The Focus Group 2008 Design: JXWD