I have been toying around with the idea of this blog article for some time now, however it was not until I began reading the book Do You Matter? How Great Design Will Make People Love Your Company. Let me just start out by saying what an amazing book this is, Mr. Brunner, Emery & Hall have absolutely nailed it with this book and I am half tempted to mail a copy to every new client I get as a sort of orientation guide. But what the book really does a fantastic job of explaining, and the reason for this article, is how design must be adopted at every level of an organization in order for it to work for a product.
The obvious references to Nike and Apple are made in the book, and for good reason. I could not help but draw a similar conclusion with the two strongest video game consoles in the market right now, the Xbox 360 and the Nintendo Wii. Both for complete different reasons can definitively say why they matter.
Without a doubt it can be said that Nintendo has drastically innovated in this generation of consoles. Instead of focusing on things like powerful CPUs, high definition graphics, or next generation storage mediums that have successfully branded themselves as the “fun” system. It does not matter who you are or how old you are, if you hear “Wii” you immediately think of the experience of the system. Swinging golf clubs, throwing punches, or bowling, all fun things anyone can do and with little explanation, the perfect intuitive interface. A company that was once a distant third in the battle between the consoles is now the hottest product out there, all without any cutting edge hardware or graphics.
XBOX 360 (ACTUALLY XBOX LIVE)
I have been playing games online about as long as it was an option, and nothing has revolutionized the experience as much as Xbox Live. At first the idea of having the pay a monthly subscription in order to play games online that might be free to play online on another system or the PC can seem ludicrous, however one try and you will see why it is worth it.
Microsoft has done a fantastic job of creating a consistent experience among all the games. They have created player zones, “achievements,” friend lists, gamer scores, a consistent game invite system, a chatting and message system, a message board system that can be accessed from the PC that includes your “gamer profile,” and most importantly it all works beautifully. Try finding someone to connect to with a Wii and you will see. The friend code nightmare normally means you spend more time finding someone to play with rather than actually playing.
This is a company that knows how to leverage the experience to create a community. The Xbox is not a just a piece of hardware that plays games, it is the portal to your online gamer profile, your online existence. This community is reaping rewards for Microsoft, it may only be the second best selling console however it has the highest number of games sold per unit. With the online interactions that you build online how can you possibly leave? When you think of the Xbox you think of great online gaming.
FINDING WHAT MATTERS
Being a great designer is about far more than creating a spectacular and beautiful deliverable, it is about creating visual communications that foster the experience between a company or product and the end user. While there are numerous companies that have invested in design, far fewer have gone to this level. As designers I believe that this is what we should be striving to get to. Do You Matter? has opened my eyes to this fact, and as a result I plan on pushing my clients to embrace design in ways I never have before.