Dirk Knemeyer

Warby Parker

Warby Parker, January 15, 2004

A short comment contextualizing the prediction could go right here

Physical environments provide the opportunity to create lush solutions that deeply affect the five human senses. These simply cannot be replicated on the web. Digital interfaces are visual, but are relatively shallow in their size and resolution. Sound on websites, in practice, is more often seen as an annoyance than a component to a pleasant experience. There are sophisticated devices that can deliver selected smells from a web interface, but, even forgetting their scarcity, it is hard to imagine that engineered sprays of a combination of base chemicals can even begin to approximate environmental olfactory reality. Touch and taste cannot be created on the web.

[…] In the context of our actual interface, we can only do so much. If we really want to move people, we need to step outside of that interface and solve the problem holistically. That means creating solutions that account for all of the senses and begin to approximate or even approach the positive and powerful elements of an actual in-store experience. With the idea of providing people with real, physical things – whether it be actual products, or something that is very pleasurable, or fun, or something useful that is branded and amplifies the overall brand experience – we must move far past the digital interface.

[…] The overarching lesson when considering experience design in the context of eCommerce is that we need to abandon the flatland of our screen. Sure, we can create visually spectacular solutions, incorporate sound, or even experiment with new technologies aimed at scent. But those are hollow, incomplete solutions that will not enable a paradigmatic change from brick to click. Instead, we need to use other media and opportunity to invade the physical plane, to be present not just on the screen but in a more powerful and rich way. That requires creative problem solving and will greatly benefit from past solutions that, even if they weren’t created with “experience design” in mind, successfully enabled companies like my glass client to create integrated experiences within personal environments. We’re already pretty good as an industry at cross-promoting the physical to the digital. The secret is to innovate the physical and do so from the intentional perspective of experience design.