16 September, 2016

Fun can generate some serious lessons

Everywhere, from our busy streets to restaurants and city parks, the last few months have seen people roaming around with their phones held up in front of their faces. They have been plugging into external batteries, searching, hatching, gathering potions and Poké Balls from Pokéstops, and battling for control of gyms. 

When launched, Pokémon GO sparked a revolution, not least among our own Digital team. But as well as being avid players, they also learned some valuable UX lessons from the craze.

Firstly, that augmented reality is the future. It may just well be that Pokémon GO will go down in history as one of the trailblazers for this revolutionary technology. It’s the big idea that counts and our Digital team is constantly searching for the next innovation to enhance the digital experience of our 32 million customers and over 82,000 colleagues.

Pokémon GO also proves that the user experience doesn’t have to be perfect at launch. Indeed, it’s far from the finished article – bugs, slowdowns and crashes show that. But creating the perfect product should be a journey of continued refinement that responds to the needs of the user. Everything we do is focused on the needs, wants and behaviour of our customers. They inspire us and tell us when we're on the right track, and when we're not. It’s part of our dot.com DNA.

Enthusiasts should not just feel they’re playing the game – they should feel they are part of the game. It’s about getting closer to what people want, keeping it honest and putting yourself in the user’s shoes. And just as immersion is a vital ingredient of a successful game, and always considered great user experience, it’s also key in the digital retail world: people want to be feel part of the shopping experience. Ultimately, our goal is to make the experience of interacting with M&S as pleasant, easy and satisfying as possible. 

So we strive to customise the user experience – the consensus is that Pokémon GO offers some customisable options but there’s room for more. The overarching lesson here is that giving users control, choice and options to make their experience uniquely their own is the key to keeping them invested long term in M&S. 

And finally, the UX must be as convenient and simple as possible. If anything, Pokémon Go has reinforced that users have high expectations and any interface should be intuitive, quick and simple.

It’s no surprise to the rest of us at M&S that our designers, developers, UX researchers, product managers and data scientists have been so passionate about Pokémon GO. They have their fingers on the pulse for the latest tech innovation. Key when you’re tasked with creating incredible digital products and experiences for our external and internal customers.

Inside M&S