Cognitive Design Congress: Day 2: August de los Reyes of Microsoft

August gave a great talk covering branding, cognitive models and their influence on the future form factors of the PC:

The future of the PC
August de los Reyes
User Experience Manager, Microsoft

Windows hardware innovation and emerging markets – hardware features that afford new functionality (“new affordances”)

(shows BBC3 clip of the ipod butcher’s shop – from “2004 the stupid version”)

(shows clip of steve jobs dissing microsoft: “the problem with microsoft is they have no taste – and i don’t mean that in a small way, i mean that in a big way”)

msft misconceptions:

first reaction he gets when he says what he does: ‘there are designers at microsoft?’

from 3 designers who only designed icons, to 600 designers and usability people at microsoft today

77 open positions atm!

we don’t eat children or kill puppies or kittens

we’re not the borg

sometimes I wish we were – the borg ships are such a beautiful simple modernist expression…

shows picture of the homermobile instead…

we don’t get fired for using ipods.

one thing unites us, which is we are all passionate about technology

creative lead – visual design, branding

previously: msn – redesigns of homepage, my msn, msn search

Windows hardware innovation and emerging markets – hardware features that afford new functionality (“new affordances”)

design references… his boss came up with the scroll wheel

other mission: emerging markets: BRIC

reason why they are put together – the two extremes of the bell-curve, the role of hardware becomes increasingly important to the user-experience at both ends

semiotics systems of branding and symbols in the visual design of the products

assignment: “change perception of the windows PC – POSITIVELY!”

an emotional deficit with the PC

‘performance and quality are not enough’ – don norman / clayton christianson chart

raise the bar – so that user expectations and experience are excellent

if you only improve the engine in a car, don’t raise the perceived value. need to raise the user experience and brand experience to match

MSFT – some interesting structural challenges: August recently had lunch with the PM who manages the graphics for excel for pocket PCs – every feature has a program manager who is very passisonate about their feature. Can be challenging to maintain a holistic user experience – hence the picture of the Homermobile.

transforming PC to:

experience facilitator
people center
with you
life relevancy

need to change the form factor, so it doesn’t reminder people of work when they are at home.

worked in amsterdam for philips

phillips – most trusted european brand? (colleague stated this – he can’t back it up…)

was in ‘brand articulation team’

got into branding by accident – commuted everyday from amsterdam to eindhoven (4hours a day – read books on branding!)

marty niemeyer

brand is not a logo, corporate identity, product

it is a gut reaction

emotional, intuitive, non-rational, individual

if a company thinks they can control a brand they ar esorely mistaken – it’s in the perceptions of the beholder.

branding is hot because there is too much choice… not much differentiation around features and benefits

we buy on trust – gut reactions….

evolution of brands:
commodities – industrial revolution – trademarks (garanteur of quality) – post war boom of choice – post war birth of ‘aspiration’ – assocaiting product with related ideas – endorsement by association lifestyle or celebrity ‘donna reed kodak ads: buy this film to be a good mom’

from N. Klein’s ‘no logo’ : william morris bought Kraft for 12bn USD – paper valuation of assets was 2bn… then a boom in branding and advertising… when ‘nontangible assets’ were realised to be so valuable

then ‘malboro friday’ they cut they prices 20% to compete with generic cigarrettes -sent shoicking message to the markets that brand doesn’t matter, as malboro was the longest branding acitivity in the world…

two camps emerged: those who resigned to the commodification of their brands and another which August thinks emerged victorious – who emphasised brand experience.

all in the second camp have strong cutlures and experience centred – e.g. starbucks – eevrything has it’s own language ‘baristas’, ‘venti’ -have strong symbols – to the extent that people tattoo themselves with them (sigils!)

tommy hilfiger – is in the business of signing its name on other people’s designed and manufuctured products, implies the product is incidental…

experience adds value.

brand as belief has generated many theories – (refs red herring article with tens of definitions)

ideas like emotional value are not based on robust models…. lots of theories which are like folklore…

cogntive theory and brand

a brand is a type of mental model, representation

mental models have two aspects

coding: how we attain info
mapping: how we bring it to context

coding: sensory impressions, propositional framework – acts like a function – an ontology…
mapping: metaphor, metanym

metanym is key: where a part of something is used to represent the whole thing

in the aspirational age, branding was very metaphorical and aspirations: buy this film to be a good mom
in the experiential age: direct experience not proposition: e.g. BMW driving school – drive it on the race track for aday, then asked if you want to buy it

next, the transformative age:

1. buying something is a way of participating in a brand
2. people buy based on symbolic cues
3. symbols born out of experience have the greatest impact
4. experience that transform strengthn the power of symbols
5. an example of transformation is learning (e.g. go to a wine store that teaches you about tasting wine)

shows slides of playstation button symbols: metanym of playstation -very powerful experienced symbols…

shows sony clip ‘germidol’ – according to sony, only 3% of the audience see the playstation symbols in the advert – created viral buzz.. .the 3% were keen to explain to others…

another brand base on metanym: ipod shuffle… the crossed/twisted arrow shuffle feature icon from itunes… used to build an entirely new brand.

ok -back to our problem: changing the perception of the PC…

first thing August looked at was the software itself… Vista has 60 designers working on it.

metonymic translation into physical envirnoments – drew out all of the design descions that went into creating windows vista… tried to do metanymic translations into physical design…

do apple do it the other way round? i.e. start from the industrial deisgn… end up with brushed metal UI…

microsoft cant do that for obvious reasons!

shows MSFT scenario clip – home use… digitla home, digital family… lots of inidvidual and shared tablets, shared displays – big screen: windows home concept – with HP – no keyboards…. no mice… natural gestures…

Call it: Natural Computing

get cues from nature
the computing experience is metonymic to nature
camoflague – tech shoul harnes sits own power to integrate and disappear into environments
mold to the individual
universals like the golden mean and golden section

shows a picture of the ipod -it conforms to the fibbonacci boxes/golden section…!

monitors/TVs going to 16:9 – the golden section

resulting design trends:
restraint in the aethestic
elegant simplicity is sophisticated
when technology is brought into the home, they remind you of home – want technology to be in context of home….

end: shows design comeptition promotional video – closing date is in 2 weeks…

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