Designing a high-end fashion experience may not seem like it has anything to do designing a user experience for a tech company. But, in truth, the two industries have a very similar user experience structure. In both fashion and branded tech, user experience differentiates your brand from the competition. The key is to develop a fan base that is loyal and passionate about the product.
Angela Ahrendts has an impressive resume. She was the CEO of Burberry, executive vice president of Liz Claiborne, and president of Donna Karen International. Now, she is the senior vice president of retail and online stores for Apple. Many people might be asking, “What does someone with a fashion background know about technology?” Well, Angela has seen massive success in designing unique user experiences at Burberry retail stores. But she knows it is about more than just the user’s experience in-store; the experience needs to stick with the customer, driving the customer’s desire to continue to interact with the brand. Amazingly, Angela grew Burberry’s Twitter following to over 2.8 million, exemplifying the fact that the woman knows how to build a following (literally).
Angela understands that a successful user experience requires an immersive and magnetic experience design. An immersive user experience ensures that the customer is fully engrossed in your product, with a sense of loyalty to the brand. Angela has designed many fashion runways with the same goal in mind, providing an immersive experience for the viewer that elicits a strong positive response to the products. A magnetic user experience requires the ability to draw customers back to a product or brand as a result of a positive experience. If you can imprint a positive feeling associated with your product into the consumer’s psyche, then you are one step ahead of the competition.
Apple in Flux
Apple is by no means failing, but they are definitely in a transitional period. Apple currently has a large percentage of the public mind share for their industry, which is a huge advantage for them over the competition. The trick is to maintain that foothold, but right now Apple is relying on the power of past successes for their continued success. Let’s face it, Apple is cool, but they have not been a cutting-edge technology leader for several years. With the loss of Steve Jobs, Apple is still trying to find its rhythm with Tom Cook at the helm. Apple needs to evolve and refresh their established culture of design and excellence, and one of the best ways to do that is through user experience in the stores and online.
Angela Ahrendts’ User Experience Design
Angela’s skills will initially be put to the test in the Apple brick-and-mortar and online stores, and eventually in the product demos. The Apple retail stores have helped to expand brand awareness and generate income for the company, but lately the stores have become static. Since the former head of retail at Apple, Ron Johnson, departed in 2007, the stores have been in decline.
Angela is challenged with the task of revamping the user experience at Apple stores, making them fresh and current. Angela is likely going to try to translate a similar type of experience you would have at a high-end fashion house, with tactile and vibrant product experiences, into the cold and metallic world of an Apple store. The difficulty lies in the fact that Angela is moving from products that are textural and highly visual, to metal and plastic products that you have to use to experience. But, Angela is no newbie to technology; she designed a user experience at Burberry embedding garments with RFID (radio identification) tags that would trigger an interactive video when the garment was picked up. Similar technology could make a huge impact on the user experience in an Apple store.
We are confident Angela can make a splash at Apple, revamping their stores and making the user experience even more enticing than it is today. She is equipped with everything she needs to create an immersive and magnetic user experience. It is just a matter of thinking creatively enough to live up to Apple’s set standard of innovation.