Data processing through affinity mapping
My research began by visiting a Best Buy store to familiarize myself with their current setup of products to see if I noticed any glaring issues or room for improvement. I noticed near the television section they had a plethora of banged up TV boxes which made me curious if they were receiving a lot of returns or exchanges.
My survey was distributed around subreddits like r/malelivingspace, r/televisions, as well as friends and family. It asked questions regarding how they go about furniture shopping, how their experience doing so was and if they run into any issues like space, size or design problems when picking out televisions or home theatre furniture.
From their answers I learned that consumers ran into issues finding the right television or piece of furniture for their space, and if the aesthetic of something they saw in the store would match the rest of the design choices their rooms already have. Some key quotes include:
Have you ever walked into an electronics store and stared aimlessly at the giant wall of TV’s? Maybe you took a seat in the makeshift home theater set up in the store and you began to imagine it in your own basement.
But when you’re in the store looking at a specific item, a TV for example, it’s crammed in with 25 other options and it’s hard to get a sense of the true size and quality.
Take Best Buy for example. Best Buy is known for showcasing a “Wall of Televisions.” While impressive, it’s hard to tell the difference between black bezels with brightly lit up screens. Within their home theatre section, Magnolia, stadium seating, sound bars and TV stands are set up in dimly lit conditions, causing confusion to whether or not the item will look as good in your living room as it does in the store.
While in terms of an experience this is great, it might give shoppers a false idea of what the product looks standing alone without all the rest next to it.
Using AR Quick Look, shoppers will now be able to view how any television or home theatre product Best Buy sells will look inside their home, exactly in the space they want it.
Utilizing this technology will be extremely useful for customers to actually see products in their true color and size — something that will be helpful in a world of increasingly sight-unseen online purchases.
Furthermore, Best Buy will also be able to show different product features such as different colors, sizes or even offer complimentary items to their selection which can tie a whole room together.
Their Magnolia section is impressive. I noticed they have a whole separate staff just for that specific section to answer questions related to home theatre and the products within the section. At first blush, Magnolia is more than just a different section of the store — it’s an experience. It brings consumers into a whole new area filled with high end products, impressive showrooms with stadium seating, large couches and premium furniture.
Although, I did find the Magnolia section poorly lit. It is intentionally dim, to give customers the feel that they’re in a theatre, however, it becomes hard to see the differences between TV stands, chairs and other furniture which is there to not only be sold but to give customers an idea of what it will look like in their homes. While I can’t change the lighting or set up of the Magnolia Section, I have found improving this section the focus of my project.
I followed up with some of the users who answered my survey and interviewed them to get a more in-depth look at their experiences. I was fortunate enough to find users who have purchased items from the Magnolia section and used Best Buy’s service to create home theatre environments for them.
High Fidelity Wireframes
What I Learned
User Pain Points
“I ordered a brand new TV after seeing it in the store and in my house it looks much larger. I think it’s actually too big for the room.”
While some of this data was not necessarily surprising, it felt good to see it all at once and really understand the issues that people are going through when it comes to buying furniture. One thing that was super interesting to me was that the majority of the positives that online shopping brings actually resulted in the cons.
It brings question to whether or not it’s worth taking the chance for convenience knowing in the back of your mind you might go through the trouble of having to return it.
With all of these insights in mind, I began to ideate on how these problems could be solved using Augmented reality, to reshape the customer experience. I began developing personas and user journeys to steer design decisions.
The following pain points are core problems that this product aims to solve, showing large emphasis on the shopper journey and issues within the shopping experience:
Shopping in-store can also be misleading — Many stores have giant walls filled with different size televisions. The problem is a 65’’ television looks small next one that is 85’’ which makes the 65’’ televison look smaller than it actually is. Also store styling and lighting factor into this equation.
Sizing and Color — Whether it’s photos online or a piece of home theatre furniture being placed in a dimly lit “room” customers find it hard to determine if the piece is right for their home.
Returns — If any problems with size, material or color arise, returns can be a hassle, especially if the item was assembled after purchase, requiring it to be disassembled in order to be returned.
User Pain Points
After personas, I used one of my favorite UX methods, MoSCoW (Must-have, Should-have, Could-Have, Won’t-Have) to prioritize features for AR integration into Best Buy’s website. However, after deciding that Magnolia needed the biggest improvements, it was time for Magnolia to have it’s own application. They were already curating home theatres with hundreds of options and professional in-home installation, so why not provide a personal experience for their consumers from their very own home?
A user story is used to describe goals that the user hopes to accomplish by using the software. For me, this is a good way to focus my design choices around the user, not personal bias.
From my surveys and interviews I have determined a user story that encompasses a comprehensive “wish list” from the perspective of the user:
I decided that I needed to revise my solution because I felt like my original solution wasn’t totally hitting the mark. I learned through my research and synthesis that while using Augmented Reality to show users what products look like in their homes before purchase is definitely something valuable to the consumer, the big change needed for Best Buy was to devote a separate application to Magnolia.
With that being said, I think both ideas can live together and create an even better more concise platform for users to have all of their options all in one centralized location.
Best Buy is a national corporation with a target audience that is essentially everyone and anyone, which made it difficult deciding on personas of shoppers. I decided to identify the main user of this software based on my research as millennial men and women who like having their own style but are humble enough to have some help on the way.
1. As a user, I want to be able to furnish a home theatre without the hassle of returns and taking trips to and from the store.
2. As a user, I want to be able to see all of the products Best Buy offers in one central location within their Magnolia collection
3. As a user, I want to mitigate returns and logistical issues with large furniture and televisions by ordering online risk-free
When designing the app, I aimed to keep things as familiar as possible for users so they could focus more on their tasks rather than having to worry about a convoluted application to find products. I created a click through prototype showing users how to view products within AR. Ideally, all products would be viewable in augmented reality but I felt there was a need to have a specific section to promote the abilities of the app.
I had four people click through my prototype and noticed a bit of a hiccup on my original scrolling function which caused the pages to double up. This only happened for two users so I decided to go back in and re-do it with a swipe/drag up gesture rather than clicking. During my second round of testing, I found issues to be resolved. Overall it was easy for users to identify where to find products that can be viewed in AR and how to start the process.
Although this was a speculative project, it felt really great to design and implement ideas into something people could actually use. I know from personal experience how tedious going back to the store to measure or have to deal with returns can be, so I think we will be seeing a lot of augmented reality used when it comes to shopping online—even just for fun!
Best Buy AR
Reimagining the Magnolia Home Theater
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Multidisciplinary Designer & Art Director