Category Archives: design

The importance of the fitting room

I went clothes shopping today for the first time in several months. Such a long break is unusual as I like to shop but much appreciated by my bank account. Total damage: $303 for 2 button down shirts, 2 polos, a sweat-shirt, a long sleeve shirt and a pair of shoes. I gave my money to Guess, FCUK, Zara, Banana Republic and Skechers (via DSW). I’m a total sucker for Guess and FCUK but it’s the first time I found something at Zara.

I realized how important the fitting rooms are as that’s where the buying decision is ultimately made. And some stores can definitely improve on that front.

Top lights are bad

The direct light from ceiling mounted spot lights is terrible. It overemphasizes the structure of the fabric and creates drop shadows for every fold. Also it gives the face a spooky look. Indirect light from behind the mirror is much better.

Mirrors – size and position

The mirror has to be big enough so that I can easily see my entire body. I like it when there is an angled mirror behind me so that I can get a 360 view.

A the DSW shoe store they had these small angled mirrors mounted to the seats. You can see the shoe and your leg up to your knee. It allows you to see if the shoe matches your pants. But it doesn’t allow you to see if the shoe matches your style. I couldn’t find any full size mirrors anywhere. I ended up not buying a pair even though I liked how it matched the pants. I was convinced it doesn’t match my personality.

Customer vs. guest vs. client

At the checkout at DSW the employees called for the next ‘guest’ rather than ‘customer’. This must be a policy as they consistently did so. Now I understand that some companies don’t want to call their customers, well, customers as the term implies:

  • buyer of product
  • source of money

But being called a ‘guest’ felt wrong. Especially at the checkout where I turn into a customer as I’m handing them my money. I can’t be fooled into thinking that it’s a privilege to be at the store or that they just want me to be there without buying anything. It makes more sense for a hotel or restaurant as they’re hosting you for an extended period of time. Please don’t call me a guest at a shoe store.

In-N-Out also has some special name for their customer. I can’t remember it right now though.

Product Design — Think 5 Years Ahead And Create Stepping Stones

Interesting idea found in BusinessWeek’s article “Staying Cool At Nokia” (paraphrased):

Think 5 years out and create stepping stones to the future.

Curtis refers to mobile phones but this can also be applied to web based products. The idea is not revolutionary but reality shows how easy it is to get tied up in short term issues (bugs, insignificant features, etc.). It’s important to have a long term vision for a product and stick to a plan on how to get there even if this means dropping some short term wins.

In fact, a lot of users are averse to change. Radical changes are refused without evening considering the advantages of the new version. Big changes can only be achieved through step by step changes. A nice side effect is that users get trained to accept change evolution.