Developing a successful new luxury brand – inspired by women
“In all my time in the design industry, I’ve never seen such a tremendous response to a new product. Social media, web forums and the blogosphere have embraced us, and we’ve been getting inquiries from around the world – it’s been just stunning.”
— Lena Hansen, marketing director, Vifa
When Vifa unveiled the new Copenhagen wireless speaker, it was not at a consumer electronics show but the Stockholm Furniture Fair. Why?
Because the launch reflected a process that rebrands the audio component manufacturer as an exclusive lifestyle brand that embraces female preferences and business potential.
Vifa’s branding strategy, marketing materials and product design were developed in close collaboration with design-people. The Copenhagen embodies several key ingredients of a holistic female user experience design – design-people’s specialty.
The speaker has already received a prestigious iF Design Award. But the real payoff has been the enthusiasm of the female target group for the new speakers – and for the Vifa brand,
“A speaker that’s actually beautiful! Scandinavian in design, with an elegance that will fit in most homes. Created for the female segment – who really ought to be seriously addressed anyway – but not so feminine that men won’t be able to live with it too.”
— Designermor, Internet blog
Boosting female business and innovation potentials in Europe
A Danfoss director on the Women Buying Power conference
Early this spring, design-people took part in Women Buying Power – the first conference to show European firms how to tap the vast and growing female market. The conference was an exciting learning experience for 100 participants from across Europe, and we’re already helping plan next year’s program. We spoke afterward to Søren Hesseldahl, an innovation director at Danfoss and one of our long-time collaborators, about his impressions.
How did you participate in the conference?
I stayed for both days, and gave a presentation the first day. In it, I described the success that my division has had in doing early-stage concept testing with women, employing user scenarios to focus on the particular product benefits that women experience in their everyday life.
How was the response?
Enthusiastic! After I presented what we’re doing at Danfoss, Stine and Sara from design-people ran a mini-workshop using an imaginary product and a method map from the Female Interaction research project. Participants sketched a whole series of use scenarios based on what a young woman might experience in her daily life in connection with different aspects of the product. Instead of focusing on features and specs, it got us thinking about the values the product supported and how they fit into the user’s life. The process generated some great results and discussion – it was a good way to place the female user at the center.
What did you personally take away from the conference?
It showed me that the path that Danfoss has been on since our involvement with the Female Interaction project is the right one. It affirmed the importance – and the effectiveness – of developing and marketing products on women’s premises. It also became clearer to me just how difficult it is to implement; there are many internal and external obstacles to doing it well. There were a lot of people there who have just started down this path. Perhaps they’re only realizing now the necessity of this approach, but that’s a critical first step.
What would you have liked to hear more about?
From what I could tell, there were two tracks: one on developing new products and services for women, the other on marketing them to women. Both are important, but especially since I work in product innovation, I think there could have been a lot more on the development track – more focus on how companies in different industries have moved from traditional approaches to a female-driven approach. I understand that that it’s a much newer approach in product development than in marketing. But it’s also much more difficult to implement there, and companies could really use help in adopting it and developing successful new products that speak to women.
Transforming user insights into a competitive edge
The AERO improves working conditions – and Nilfisk’s competitive edge
Since 2011, design-people has been working with Nilfisk-Advance to develop better professional vacuum cleaners based on in-depth user studies. The Nilfisk AERO is the first of these products to hit the market.
To create the AERO, our user-research team interviewed construction workers in three countries to discover what might improve their daily routines easier. We found that they often used vacuum cleaners in challenging situations, carrying them up ladders and scaffolding – situations where it was necessary to bear the units with one hand. Yet none of these users availed themselves of the transport solutions already built into the vacuums, instead improvising ways to fasten tubes and cords.
So our designers developed a rubber strap that let them attach components on the fly, enabling them to move up and down ladders safely and rapidly. And since the vacuumed materials were often wet and messy, we also integrated a handle in the receptacle to make it easier to bear and empty. An attractive new design emphasizes the quality and function of these features without comprising performance.
By improving workflow and safety, such details give Nilfisk-Advance a competitive advantage and help the AERO fulfill the company’s pledge to users: “It works for you.”
New app leads to a better water-metering system
The Kamstrup READy Suite proves popular with utility workers
The challenge: to improve the usability and workflow of Kamstrup’s system for gathering water consumption data, while introducing a smartphone app.
To understand the challenge from a user perspective, design-people started by conducting studies and interviews with network operators and field service technicians. We translated the insights gleaned into user scenarios and interaction design concepts for the various components of the READy Suite.
The design DNA that we’ve developed for Kamstrup in recent years also helped guide our design of the app, the software and the antenna that connects the technician’s phone to water meters. Distinctive DNA elements like rectangular, striped surfaces, circular shapes and friendly icons now give the metering system an appealing Kamstrup-branded identity.
The new system is not only attractive, but it provides better workflow and usability, saves time and mistakes, and can be readily updated from the previous system. So it’s easy to see why the READy Suite has been embraced eagerly by users who want an improved metering experience – and why Kamstrup expects strong sales of the new product.
"Based on their real-life studies with water utility technicians, design-people helped us develop a strong functionality and interaction concept for our new READy Suite. The design DNA gives all the components of the suite a consistent Kamstrup look and feel. We now have a strong new offering in the remote metering market, and reactions from our sales force and the first end-users have been extremely encouraging."
Project manager, Kamstrup
Services: user research, app concept, app interaction design, PC software GUI, product design
Turning an unknown product into a winning export
The E3light Mylight – from tech specs to female benefit story
An LED flex strip triggered by a motion sensor. What real life benefits might it have – and for who? And how do you persuade them to buy it?
The answers weren’t obvious – not even to E3light, the firm that created the Mylight. So they called in design-people to define the target customers and develop a benefit story.
Based on our familiarity with the emerging buying power of women, we suggested a female benchmark user – and E3light agreed. Then our team explored the entire product experience – from purchase and unpacking, to installation and use – from her perspective. These scenarios helped us frame primary uses for the Mylight, and to identify sticking points and benefits. And they enabled us to develop a packaging and communication concept that female consumers will immediately relate to their own needs.
Mount the Mylight under your bed, for instance. If you have to get up in the middle of the night – to use the bathroom, to see to a crying child – its muted light will illuminate the floor as soon as you swing your legs out of bed.
Since the Mylight relaunch earlier this year, US sales have taken off. In fact, they’ve been so good that the Danish Trade Council just awarded E3light the Vitus Export Prize.
“When we first brought Mylight on the market, consumers were not clear what it was good for. design-people helped us to define a female lead user, and to frame and communicate a strong benefit story by translating the product specifications into real user benefits that people can relate to.
“Three months later, our improved user experience and marketing approach were critical in opening the door to the US market. We expect to sell 500,000 Mylights next year.”
Flemming Viktor Andersen
See how E3light now tells the Mylight story here.
Services: user experience analysis, packaging and communication concepts
Deeper user understanding leads to better care
Pressalit – Care PLUS
Pressalit is a global player within toilet seats and care products for disabled people in both private and public settings. Pressalit turned to design-people to better understand what disabled users and their caregivers needed from a new bathroom product range.
Based on extensive user research, we held process and concept workshops with the Pressalit development team. The outcome was our recommendations for visualizing future products as full-scale concepts, e.g.:
Make users more comfortable by introducing a softer look and feel to the surfaces that come in contact with their bodies.
Make the operation of adjustable features easier to understand through visible and ergonomic design of handles – while integrating branding elements at the same time.
Now Pressalit has released their new Pressalit Care PLUS series, a new product line based on design-people’s recommendations and concept ideas.
"design-people has helped us to better understand our users’ motivations and barriers, and they have used the insights to develop a user-friendly new product concept for our care division. This concept is the foundation for our successful new Pressalit Care PLUS series."
business development director, Pressalit
Services: user research, people-driven process, innovation potentials
What she wants
Exploring female users with Logitech
Which elements of your user experience and design do women appreciate – and what do they dislike? And how does that compare to competitors’ products?
These are questions that our Female Interaction® team explored for Logitech, utilizing one of their key products as a benchmark.
We began by interviewing a cross-section of women and situating them with respect to Logitech’s segmentation model and our own profiles of female tech users. Then we mapped the participants’ real life experience and usage patterns with the benchmark product. In our user experience lab, we analyzed how they interacted with it and how they responded to individual design features.
Moving from user insight to innovation
After ranking Logitech with their competitors and evaluating women’s experience of Logitech offerings, our team drew up recommendations and developed ways to innovate in the areas of user experience and product design – ways that would address the female preferences we had identified.
Our innovation and design team then elaborated concepts that showed how Logitech could translate this innovation potential into new product ideas and design features. And finally, to multiply the benefits of our analysis, we shared our findings at company headquarters in Switzerland and transmitted the presentation live to product teams in Ireland and the US.
A great start for helping Logitech tap into the power of the emerging female economy.
Keywords: user exploration, innovation potential
Two design awards – and a boost in sales
User focus pays off for Airmaster
Airmaster is known for its state-of-the-art ventilation systems. Yet the firm’s engineering prowess has created a hidden problem: people don’t always use the controls.
“We used to start developing a control panel by asking our engineers which functions to include – and then put them all in a menu-driven display,” says Lars Vestergaard, CEO of Airmaster. “But design-people convinced us to start this time with the user.”
Through focus groups with female teachers, the design team found that complicated controls discouraged target users from interacting with the ventilation system. The discovery didn’t surprise design-people’s Klaus Schroeder, who has overseen extensive research on women’s relationships to tech products.
“We’ve found that too many technical features can get in the way of women’s desire to manage their surroundings,” Schroeder says. “And that when we simplify a design to concentrate on key features, men appreciate it too.”
In response, design-people created Airlinq, a panel with one main control, to increase or decrease airflow. Its simple appearance conceals a broad range of advanced functions for supervisors and installers.
Earlier this year, International Forum Design recognized Airlinq with two awards, for product design and for interaction design. More importantly for Airmaster, the innovative panel is being embraced by partners and clients – and the people at the front of the class.
Development partner: JE electronic a/s
Services: user research, interaction design, product design, user feedback
A holistic user experience
Innovative indoor climate control with Danfoss
Noi is a concept for controlling the indoor climate in private homes and minimizing energy consumption. In collaboration with Danfoss, design-people carried out a case study as part of Female Interaction, a three-year project exploring how female tech preferences can drive innovation in user experience.
Several user research studies found that, when it comes to a healthy, comfortable indoor climate, most women would rather feel they’re in control than let an intelligent automatic system decide for them. Inspired by this female preference, Noi shows the user clearly when automatic controls are in effect and when manual adjustments have been made. Noi helps her take charge of wellness at home by adjusting both air quality (crystal pattern in the control surface) and temperature (a vertical slider). And if she is on the go and remembers that she forgot to turn down the heat, Noi gives her instant access to her home climate system from a mobile device – saving energy and providing comfort when it is needed.
Female Interaction has had a great impact on Danfoss. Today the Danfoss heating division employs gender know-how in obtaining user insights and testing new product concepts – before embarking upon the design and implementation stage. For instance, the development department now focuses on creating real-life user benefit scenarios rather than tech features when developing new products. Noi has been a great inspiration for this approach.
Watch the video here
Services: Female Interaction, interaction design, product design, user exploration, innovation strategy
To keep the rest of us safe from the hazards of winter’s icy roads, Epoke delivers industrial high-end salt spreading systems. The key to controlling these systems is a remote control located in the drivers cab. With the new EpoMaster X1, Epoke introduces a more visual approach, to make it easier for the driver to understand and adjust how the salt is currently being spread behind the truck. Being able to spread salt precisely is the key, since this means higher road safety and less salt wasted. To maximize traffic safety, the primary settings are also adjusted using physical controls so they can be controlled while keeping the eyes on the road.
- The new interface is based on thorough user studies, feature workshops, and situated interviews to understand the drivers and the context of use.
- Since the profession of spreading salt is seasonal, the remote has been designed to make it easy - especially for new users - to get familiar with the system and get started.
- Especially the startup menu guides the users through the initial configuration and is accessed using a touchscreen.
- This simple approach benefits Epoke, by minimizing the amount of time it takes to train new drivers and the amount of support required by users in the beginning of season.
- "The money we have used on designes have been really well spent" - Jørn Christensen, CEO, Epoke A/S
Services: User research, interaction design, product design
Ease-of-use means business
Danfoss’s new DEVIreg Touch thermostat sells
Danfoss is a leader in indoor climate solutions. Its DEVIreg Touch thermostat is taking the lead in the intuitive operation of floor heating.
Danfoss’s ambition with the DEVIreg Touch was to create a thermostat that stands out with an easy-to-use and discreet user interface. The primary goal was to improve usability and accessibility in regulating comfort levels while making users more aware of environmental consequences.
By involving users in developing the thermostat, design-people helped focus interaction on essential features. Its discreet appearance and straightforward top-level controls make the user feel motivated and empowered. Advanced features such as a timer and an “away” setting are accessible on a second level through a comprehensive screen menu.
“With the introduction of the DEVIreg Touch, our market share in high-endthermostats has increased significantly – due to technological innovation, uncompromising usability and the right design."
Henrik Londorf, senior director,
Business development and marketing, Danfoss
Watch the DEVIreg Touch video here
Services: interaction design, product design, focus group, usability testing, digital design
Female Interaction goes TED
Live talk in Amsterdam (video)
A one-minute video qualified Female Interaction amongst hundreds of applicants for the TED X event in Amsterdam June 20th 2012.
TED (standing for Technology - Entertainment - Design) is a global nonprofit organization devoted to support world-changing ideas. Along with 21 other speakers from science, art, computing and design, Klaus Schroeder, design-people partner and head of Female Interaction research, gave a 5 minutes live talk in front the enthusiastic audience.
Under the motto of “ideas worth spreading” Klaus presented an extract of the Female Interaction research about how differently women experience technology design. His mission was that Womenomics and the preferences of women will revolutionize male biased tech industries and make them deliver far better user experiences - for the sake of all users of advanced tech products.
See the 5 min TED Talk titled Designing technology for women here
A Female Interaction year
Order our Female Interaction Strategy guidebook
Our Guidebook to a Female Interaction Strategy has now been launched. The guidebook sums up research, methods and conclusions from our 3-year Female Interaction project. It signals the start of a year where implementation of the research findings and Female Interaction know-how in the industry is a top priority.
Womenomics potentials for the industry are rapidly growing year by year. With Guidebook to a Female Interaction Strategy you acquire new grounds for user insights and decision making, helping you to successfully innovate and develop products for the emerging female target group.
Order the guidebook by sending an e-mail to our office manager Karin Bech Hansen firstname.lastname@example.org with your post address. The price is 45 euro plus transport.
Rethinking tech-products - the female way
A focus on female values can innovate tech-products
In our Female Interaction research project a group of scientists, tech-companies, market analysts and designers have worked with female approaches to advanced technology during the last 3 years. Parts of the results are new female design concepts developed by design-people within the fields of Music and media in private homes, Climate control in private homes, and Wireless and handsfree communication. The new concepts are developed in cooperation with Bang & Olufsen, Danfoss & GN Netcom - based on their case products.