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
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
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
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
Giving women a voice on the phone
Luxury innovation with Vertu
Renowned for high-end craftsmanship and its collaboration with Ferrari, Vertu is a luxury mobile phone brand based in England.
But Hutch Hutchison, who heads up Vertu’s concept creation and design, was concerned that the exclusive brand was excluding a crucial group of clients.
“As a tech company, we have a natural bias towards male customers. That inspired me to ask design-people to help my design team develop a larger female customer base.”
The female-interaction team from design-people arranged interviews with well-to-do women in half a dozen countries. We used these interviews to analyze the innovation potential of female interaction for Vertu. Then we worked with Hutchison’s team to pinpoint innovation opportunities and purchase barriers. Together, we reframed their design approach to reflect the experience of prospective female users.
“The result was even more successful than I had hoped,” Hutchison says. “Not only did design-people give us new insights and tools for attracting female customers – they also made us realize that by addressing women, we can strengthen our appeal to men too.”
SmartTouch is the next generation interfaces for professional ovens from Hounö.
- The ovens are used by wide range of clients, ranging from supermarkets to institutions and exclusive Michelin-prized restaurants.
- The main focus throughout development has been to provide easy access and operation of the many advanced features of the oven. This gives the users full benefit of the ovens and enables them to cook more efficient with delicious end results.
- The interface development has been based on knowledge from extensive user research, to meet the users based on their routines, level and needs. The result is an interface can be customized to support the various user types, from bake-off routines to the fine kitchen of high-end restaurants.
- For unexperienced users, a simple navigation makes it easy to learn and fast to operate.
- By enabling these users, Hounö has a strong sales parameter and has at the same time potentially minimized the support needs.
- The consistent use of interaction- and layout principles also benefits the development time by enabling a faster design of future functionalities.
- The SmartTouch interface is featured on a selected range of the Hounö Visual Cooking touch models.
- Services: User research, interaction design
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
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
Sleek audio design
How to design a classic satellite speaker to fit into the modern living environment as companion to flat screen TV’s? And how to make it attractive for the female part of the world?
Our product design team converted these challenges into a discreet, yet unique speaker design for Jamo. The overall shape is an evolution of Jamo’s design language; there is a clear overall form statement while refined, soft form details catch the attention when you get closer and touch the product. The signature element is a characteristic grill pattern that gives the product identity and style.
Services: trend research, product design