Tag Archives: Total eXperience Design

uxWTF experience design challenge #1 — CVS receipt reDesign { please }

okay, okay, okay — for those of you that might personally know me in some way from the UX and Design Community, and by know me i mean really know me, you’ve probably heard me rant on about the real reasons why i am a user-centered designer

most people outside of the profession simply assume that all designers have this wonderful and delicate appreciation for elegant design in the world and that their passion and motivations lie somewhere within the logic of thereby wanting to design and bring to life newer designs as inspired by Bauhaus, clean and minimalist typography or by some self-delusional thinking that our contributions as designers in modernday society will somehow make for a greener, more peaceable and liveable planet

sorry if this sounds like a loaded way to re-introduce myself here for you — i don’t mean to sound hostile or pessimistic or negative in any way, believe me — i’m actually quite a lighthearted and humorous person in person, if you know what i mean — but i want you to understand MY reasons for being a designer, which i don’t think are too atypical, but they’re definitely not reasons most designers typically discuss in such a public forum

i design because i am constantly frustrated

yep, there ya go — i said it out loud { or as loud as you can get in blogPost format } — i’m frustrated, constantly frustrated: with the way the world is; with the horrendous design of just about everything we encounter in life; with the ridiculously backwards and twisted way everything seems to be better designed for The System, for information and data, for Machine-to-Machine Communication and Interaction { or M2M if you wanna get all TLA on that shit }, but not nearly even remotely designed for human consumption, use or participation

so, here we go — no real fantastic segue, fade or transition here to help move into this next concept, you now know my personal and professional motivations as a user-centered design professional and performance artist — they’re actually quite political reasons to do what i do, but let’s not get into that now, aight?

right now i want to talk about an idea that came to me recently while taking care of business in a public office restroom { this is where i get my most brilliant ideas, as funny as it sounds, in the handicap stall while sitting on the porcelain throne } — thinking about these frustrating experiences i keep bumping into out there in the world, i tried to figure out a way i could actually make discussions like these more consumable, more relatable and — most importantly — more actionable

i mean, how could i inspire other people to work with me in some collaborative capacity to actually redesign these horrifically poor and annoying experiences even if there might be no actual paying project on the books, even if there is no real financial reason to tackle these vital worldly challenges, even if the ONLY potential motivation to change these experiences is simply embedded in the very human need to show off what real, innovative design thinking can do to improve and better optimize our universal human experience and to hopefully become ubiquitously famous through these public, humorously expressed issues and processes to show people how to actually change the world

i mean, i’m talkin’ Steve Jobs level shit here — just without all the asshole politics and multimillionaire nerdy swagger of ‘The Genius’ bullshit we’re all led to believe about iPod Man

and it all starts with this concept

logo_uxWTF

let’s take a look, in blog serial format, at a list of these frustrating experiences through user-centered investigation and photodocumentation and see if we can’t put our heads together and fix this shit

its not that difficult people

its really not

and i’m here to help ya

let’s start with this one, this little uxWTF? design challenge:

the CVS receipt reDesign

now, to be completely fair here, this is NOT solely a CVS-related UX offense we’re talking about, right? we’ve all experienced this at NUMEROUS retail consumer establishments — it just so happens, though, that i’ve been picking up my meds a lot lately { thank gawd, right? who knows what this post’d be about without ’em ;] } and this similarly strange feat of cash register magic recurs like fucking clockwork with each and every transaction at the CVS Pharmacy and even at the front counter { not sure on the Photo Lab area, though, let me know if you can verify this same phenomena happening there, too }

let’s take a looksy

here’s what the CVS Pharmacy Technician handed me at the register before wishing me to, ‘Have a nice day’ …

look familiar? this receipt — and i kid you not — this receipt is almost as tall as i am

that’s ridiculous

its just fucking ridiculous

what a waste of the life of a sapling

and you know what? i never ever use the coupons on these neverending receipts — never

i bet someone takes advantage of the remarkable savings provided by Consumer Value Stores, but i personally think the benefits or value i get from these veritable partystreamers of savings do not in any way outweigh the environmental cost or just the frigging paperwaste nuisance of these amazing little lengthy souvenirs i collect from each trip to the national chain convenience store

i used to actually save these receipts and scotchtape them together to write on the eventually handmade collaged side of my frankenpaper sans ink — but c’mon, seriously? seriously?

so, uhm, i don’t know — i recently downloaded and started using the CVS smartphone app on my android mobile device, and i actually think the app would be a far more appropriate delivery mechanism for these additional CVS membership savings — could be nicer, right?

a LOT nicer

i mean, we know they’re tracking our every purchase via the app or our CVS loyalty card much-like any supermarket, department store or other corporate chain of transactional wonderment, and i think it would be the very least they could do for us — let’s get smart, now, aight? — THIS might actually be one of the best potential implementations for those semi-bizarre and overused / misused QR codes { QR = quick response, in case you weren’t already in the know } — i mean, it might be superCool and magically fantastic if the entire CVS members rewards savings systems { and that of other similarly national chain-like corporate establishments } all somehow leveraged the app or the card, right? but at the very least, bring out the QR codes, print ’em right on the receipt, and then it might be, i don’t know, 6 inches long at the most { mostly now depending on just how many items you purchased from the store, not how much psychosocial data-driven stalker suggestions they can spit back at you } — i mean, we don’t need to memorialize last Tuesday’s purchases from the pharmacy for any real reasons as average American citizens now, do we? in fact, the printed proof is in some ways an actual privacy liability that could potentially break patient confidentiality { but maybe not, i’d need to actually read my receipt to see what’s listed for my recent pharmacy purchase }

on another note — and this is something i am just DYING to see happen in the very-near future — i would also love to see these apps and other store membership systems that track our every micropurchase behavior actually provide our data for US to usethe government sees my data, stores and financial institutions see my data, Hell, even offshore agencies working for credit card and other similarly skanky organizations most likely have more access to my personal transactional behavioral information than i do as the user of these systems, as the actual supposed member of these systems { whatever that means to me at this point, right? }

show me the data!

i think its about time to better empower the people through the access and flow of our data

and its also about time that we start turning the tables a bit and actually get paid for sharing our data with these organizations — why do we so willingly sign up for these services that basically steal our information and use it for the big consumer feedback loop for devious subliminal purchase suggestions from The Man { in a rather loose and corporatey collective sense of definition } — i mean, i know i know, we willingly sign up for these services and give it all away for free, like the utter dopes we all are — but c’mon, let’s get it back, let’s take back what’s rightfully ours and what should be ONLY ours unless we make a little jing in the deal — and i’m not talking about this beautiful, easy ‘giving back’ gesture we receive upon receipt, this paper streaming printed register tape of coupon savings, i’m talkin’ about actually gettin’ paid

pay up bitches!

you want this? you want this data?

pay me

Extending experience design { eed }

DSCF0242just like any other realm of design, you do not necessarily need to start thinking of the Total eXperience Design right from day 1

let’s say you start off designing a campaign or concept from a pure print standpoint at first … you have brochureware, business cards, flyers, posters, books, periodicals or any microSet of these items from the realm of paper and physically printed work … you can easily take your high resolution and vector-drawn artwork and interpolate that into the realm of onScreen eXperience ( oSX or whatever else you might personally call it … most might say uX for user eXperience, but i think i prefer the implied ‘operating System‘ in this oSX tla* … there is also an nearReference to ‘ossification‘ in the oS part of the tla which definitely holds some resonance to end deliverables like wireframes and other IA documents that set up the backbone for later rounds of ‘skinning‘ or visual design treatment ) … that works out nicely, right?

and then from high resolution to low resolution ( for onScreen ) to no resolution ( for mobile or text-based interpretation of the original print to web to text ), that’s another easy degradation … and we all know it could work in the reverse as well ( but would be a LOT more efficient having vector and high rez brand elements from the first ), there just may need to be some sort of reCreation to make the no to low to high rez translation possible

these are still playing in the realm of what i would consider relatively flat media … sure, there can be an element of time and space in both onScreen and onDevice eXperience design, but there is an almost near-predictablity whenever the backend relies on database technology ( as opposed to a less predictable system of people or performers )

here is another way to extend the experience design

let’s say you hand out training materials and businessCards ( other paperWare as well ) and after a period of rehearsal and behaviorSetting event-based sessions your salesForce or performance militia is then allowed to carry out some sort of activity ‘out there’ in both the real world and online … these performers ( salesFolk, whatever ) can then use tools such as databases and preScripted materials ( corporate or not ) to act on the behalf of an organization to work toward achieving a goal … a truly dynamic system … one that is a lot more improvisational and a LOT less predictable than one that uses a pre-programmed mathematical set of algorithms to perform a task ( a Javascript randomizer, perhaps, serves up 1 of 20 different animated gifs … or maybe there is a semantic web microApplication or adServer that grabs the historical online trends of a user and serves up some content or graphic that proves to be more relevant to the user as they navigate a system … if you’re a heterosexual woman, maybe the dynamic system serves up the image of a strapping, young poolboy w/ the tagline … ‘Hey Baby, time for some fun’ … and then maybe if you’re a tree in the autumntime, maybe a block of text gets served up instead to describe the benefits of dropping acorns to not only propagate the species but also to help a squirrel family survive through the upcoming brutal winter squalls approaching )

as an example … the totally random, packeted and human-chaotic approach Al Qaeda implemented might best explain the difficulty, perhaps, in properly tracking and putting a stop to the young pilot students in Florida prior to the 911 attacks … i personally believe, with the advent of satellite spy systems and other superCool stealth tracking the US government utilizes, that there is no way they could NOT have known, to some degree, that there was at least going to be some sort of mass hijacking in the skies above and about NYC … maybe the pure evil inside of a system of human beings cannot be tracked or measured by any device or team of watchers … or maybe all data was available to certain departments or individuals tracking the behavior patterns of these suspicious foreign agents but there was a failure to go beyond the numeric, patternistic analysis and interpret the criss-cross addition and multiplication of all the components to fully realize the truth and intention behind the efforts of the student internationals suddenly interested in ‘learning to fly’ … but the human element here, in this particular system design, that human element was either the excuse behind non-prevention or acted as an insanely powerful subterfuge to the antiSystem ( i guess system and antiSystem can be purely a matter of perspectavity … from the US standpoint, of course, we were protecting the system of Democracy { or Capitalistic Consumerism from the purely financiofactual societal analysis filter } and the antiSystem would be the terrorists, no matter from where or whence, from the era of the great Lewinsky and onward into the future forever and evermore )

the ultimate dynamic systems need to not only involve humans as the end-user | viewer | participant, but should also exploit the power of human performance within the system to help steer the processes from within the system

could robots effectively be programmed to sell Oracle products?

let’s say you could completely emulate a human voice, the inflection and accent of a salesperson or performer ( i keep saying performer as my real interest, my intentions are not meant for real market-effective purposes at all but perhaps, indeed, for the forces that influence the opposite inflexion when so deserved ) … could all of the circumstances behind a human conversation between client and representative be accounted for to anticipate every thread and potential for exception or bargaining? i don’t think so …

my theory is that life is a dynamic system … and that people, being the users of the system, need an equivalent human component within the system to create the ultimate dynamic set of status and interactivity …

if we started with a performance piece, a play perhaps … how could that experience be extended? maybe the brochureWare, the artifacts that will survive the live experience, these items could be designed to help brand the event and serve as a means to resuscitate the memory of the original live performance ( its key elements, narrative and nuances ) in the mind of the concertGoer or theatreGoer … maybe there are more intential ‘takeaways’ distributed to the audience ( Walter Sickert and The Army of Broken Toys typically distribute little ‘toy’ noisemakers for cued audience participation at critical shock and emphasis points in their theatricalmusical event-based concerts and shows … Crank Sturgeon quite frequently uses olfactory sensation to create a bit of spacial memory discordance that heightens my own post-event discourse and reflections of his noise performance, sound art and danceworks { he might throw freshly raked leaves about the space or burn fabric inside a toaster oven, each producing a unique and memorable nasal-based brand for his performative episodic installations } ) … or perhaps the performance itself purposely begins to extend beyond the stageSpace … maybe there are faux-protestations being carried out in a semi-unoffcial manner to heighten the senses of the audience as they encounter the rage and discontent of this pre-performative ‘appetizer’ tasting of what the intended subject matter could include … more and more literary experiences ( or at least fictional and written experiences ) are being augmented with peripheral online experiences that might express the opinions of just one character from the book using MySpace, Facebook or other pretended social web experiences to deepen the mythological aura and fictionSpace surrounding the ‘real work’ … Sasha Baron Cohen’s ‘Brüno’ movie had several promotional website extensions that helped heighten not only the hype but also the riduculous personality and parody that is obviously at the core of what Cohen does …

not every design needs this sort of extension

but in thinking about Total eXperience Design potential for a campaign, activity or product it can be very helpful to consider the static, temporal, algorithmic and ultimately human ( chaotic or concordance-reactive ) elements to include for the most effective txd … to consider, perhaps, not only the user expereince as seen from the side of the target audience but also from the vantagepoint of the targeting user participant in the system

*tla = three-letter acronym

introducing Total eXperience Design { aka TXD }

TXD y'alL, created with love by the cSi

what’s the big idea

as part of my studies in communication design and dynamic media at The Dynamic Media institute at MassArt in Boston i spent the best part of the first year in the program exploring and rediscovering a lot of subject matter i am particularly passionate about … the second semester included a continuation of The DMI’s ‘Design Seminar’ … and in this course my classmates and i got to use mindmapping, automatic writing and other techniques to delve into the realms we might consider as the focus for our eventual thesis work in design

the program is utterly amazing … and i highly recommend anyone that is truly interested in current trends in technology, communication, expressive arts and creativity and the future of humanity come to the program and at least audit a course … i’m sure that if you stop in you will witness something that you may not find anywhere else in the world … an international and interdisciplinary union of personality and expertise all brought together for the sole purpose of contributing to the future … contributing to the future of design thought and media experience

of course, this hubPage is not an advertisement for the program … i am just excited about the coursework and it is only through my own participation that i bumped across this theory … the theory that serves as the primary focus of this hubPage | blog | what have you

and that focus, my friends, is the concept of Total eXperience Design

so, for now … more digression and background on my studies … only a slight delay ( be patient ), i promise

back to Design Seminar 2 … as part of the coursework w/ DS2 the entire class participated in a community blog to explore areas of interest and help each of us discover our passions in this space … w/ each new blogPost, students were then expected to make comments on each other’s writings … and the funny thing that came out of that particular part of the exercise, at least for me, was each comment i posted, each attempt i made to give my own perspective to someone else’s perspective … each comment seemed to help both parties involved … commenting helped me deepen and clarify my own thoughts as well as offer up some valuable thought and consideration for my classmate … a truly valuable and unique exercise in community, thinking and sharing

the results of my second semester … well, i developed a preliminary thesis proposal … or i almost developed a preliminary thesis proposal … i think that my final ( or nearFinal ) presentation just put a LOT of ideas ‘out there’ … i was concerned about the loss of texture as we move from media in realSpace into increasingly more virtual expressive spaces …

i also seemed very curious about the areas between each artform or each realm of design communication ( some might call these channels ) and i called this betweenSpace

translation, as somewhat related to the loss of texture through virtualization, but more importantly, literal translation and the gigantic and ofttimes humorous, disservice word-to-word machine-like translation can do for language, this was also important to me and my thesis … you cannot truly translate a poem, right? something gets lost … either the rhythm, the nonsense, some of the meaning, i mean … there are good translations of a poem on the page, i’m sure … but no matter what it seems we lose something along the way ( and that might be poetic texture ) … i would advocate for interpretation over translation any day a the week …watching the TED Talk by Evelyn Glennie ‘How to listen to music with your whole body’ incredibly demonstrates, at one point, the important human difference between translation and interpretation … i hope to promote interpretation and to ridicule mere, robotic translation through some of my work

and i also knew that i was interested in doing unusual things with technology … that i wanted to create experiences that would make people question things or wonder if the experience they just had could even have been real

in some of my last slides … the last points of my final presentation summarized the key points in my areas of interest … and in the mix was the term ‘cyberSurreal’ … the professor leading the class ( and the program ) Jan Kubasiewicz asked if the term cyberSurreal was my own invention, and frankly, i am not sure where it came from ( i had, in fact, just invented this term as i frequently mash words together w/ a little camelCasing due to my exposure and practice with code ), but as soon as he began to ask everything seemed to make sense

i think i needed to give myself permission … it took me a year to unwind from the kind of corporate containership my professional existence shackled to me for years … i have had to live as a man in pieces for more than a decade … someone that needed to, for survival in an office ( of all places ) setting, someone that needed to sequester huge chunks of important stuff away because the establishment, the cSuite, whatever you want to call it, finds the real me ( the entire bag of thought ) a little too scary for the workplace … i don’t know, it could be my own doing really … i could be assuming that the whole package is ‘too much’ for the workplace … but i don’t think i imposed these silos upon myself … this siloing …

so it took me a year to admit to myself i was interested in cyberSurrealism … the extension of the original movement of Surrealism and all of its predecessing and postdecessing movements back and forth, into and out of the virutal and actual systems we all must live with, in, around … with at least part of cyberSurrealism i want to explore life as a living prototype … a sort of found prototype … as a performer ( and as a world citizen that needs to live in this world we were given … this hand-me-down world ) i will become a sort of usability practitioner of the world and its many systems as a found, living prototype … and from here on in it is my job to test the system and find ways to improve it

a more grand way of saying this is … through the international movement of cyberSurrealism i will act as a usability practitioner to test the world as a found, living prototype and then find areas of potential improvement and suggest ways to change the world … i hope to suggest unusual ways of solving huge problems by looking at things from a slightly different angle ( as influenced by our ‘Murray’ project in Design Studio 2 with Joseph Quackenbush,see the New Yorker article ‘Million Dollar Murray’ by Malcolm ‘Tipping Point’ Gladwell ) or by using the betweenSpace as a place of leverage … and, from a more Surreal standpoint and one that may be more literary or poetic, i am seeking poetic justice in the world through my research, prototyping and exploration of these concepts … i hope to live my life as much like a poem personified as Billy Barnum does … to seek those moments of poetry that cannot be merely translated or explained but can only be appreciated through living, through witnessing, through direct experience of that poetic moment

and that lead us to Total eXperience Design

i have many theories brewing about this topic of Total eXperience Design … i heard an excellent recent talk about multi-channel marketing campaigns, which seems to potentially be one flavor of what i am proposing to the world … but TXD is a bit different, especially when looked at through the lens of cyberSurrealism

based on Wagner’s concepts of gesamtkunstwerk or ‘The Total Artwork’Total eXperience Design would take a user-centered set of considerations ( maybe even a UCD approach, but it might depend on the piece ) to design everything … the entire experience … to take all sense into consideration … to take the temporal nature of the particular piece into consideration … to think about the impression the piece leaves w/ the listener | viewer | participant … the TXD aftertaste, if you will … and to think about the artifacts or take-aways that both the user and the world will have following the existence of the TXD piece in question or on display

how many times … how many times have i been to a performance, seen incredible work, live sound and theatricality … event-based experience … and then, in the end, the piece unintentionally ( without TXD consideration ) lives on only in the mind ( and conversation ) of the audience … in other words, adequate and important documentation and deliverables were never considered … the focus is so much on getting up on stage, using this or that technology, wearing this or that article of clothing, and yet there is no video or audio capture of the event to help the people of the future ( or even of the present ) understand or see the vision you created

if this were intentionally part of the plan, cool … not a big deal to document a rock show, perhaps … and that is fine … we can’t have a screenCapture of every single moment in lifenow, can we?

but we should at least, as artists and designers, consider the afterlife of a project or event … is there an item we would want to give the viewer | participant to help them better understand the intended meaning of the piece? to understand it after the show, after the opening? or to maybe read a year from now and in deeper yet delayed reflection suddenly understand the work in a different light?

or maybe it is what it is and that’s that … that would be fine as well … just be considerate … consider the audience, the participant, the viewer, the user, the audience … and think about what you would want them to say, how you want them to talk about your work, how you hope they understand and speak about the content from a variety of levels

but we can think about TXD as gesamtkunstwerk augmented by the latest art and technology movements

TXD = g+DM ( gesamtkunstwerk + dynamic media )

these are my preliminary ideas about Total eXperience Design

{ original post on the official TXD HubPage }