Monday, October 20, 2008

Insignia Open Principles Test

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so I am taking this opportunity to extend the open principles test to redesigning the Insignia website (http://www.insignia-products.com/). Insignia is a Best Buy Exclusive Brand that produces and sells TVs, MP3 players and various other consumer electronics in the US and Canada. We are in the process of redesigning our web site and are seeking input from those who have a point of view and passion around the Insignia and Best Buy brands. We believe that ownership and engagement from our customers and employees are the keys to our success. Therefore, I invite you to share your unique perspective as we set out on this journey. This is an experiment, so I don’t know what will work or what kind of feedback we will receive, but I do believe your voice will help us make a better product in the end. I also want to thank our digital agency for their openness in trying this experiment with us.

Here’s how to participate:

If you are a Best Buy corporate employee: On Wednesday, October 22nd, we invite you to join us in A5 Big Box to hear our digital agency present their Discovery findings and initial wireframes. The meeting is from 3:00 – 4:30 and you will need a Yammer account to participate (http://www.yammer.com/). Please sign up using your Best Buy e-mail address as it will be the only way for us to collect your feedback during the session.

If you are a Best Buy field employee: Go to BlueShirt nation to find this topic posted under General forums. Please leave your feedback there.

If you are an Insignia or Best Buy customer: Please leave your feedback directly here at this blog.

The Key Question we are addressing is how to make the Insignia web site more useful and relevant to our customers. What role should Insignia play in Best Buy's mission and how should that reflect on the web site?

Thanks in advance. I am looking forward to hearing what you all have to say.

10 comments:

Betsy said...

First, I would determine the objectives for the site. Possible objectives (some overlap):

- Provide product information about Insignia

- Identify Insignia as a Best Buy brand

- Draw traffic through search engines to Insignia products

- Provide a full representation of the products, specifications, initial online support, FAQs, interactive support, knowledge base, ticket system.

- Allow site visitors to interact around the products - 'social networking'

- Provide comparison opportunities of Insignia products with competing products. Resource:http://www.cnet.com/4520-6022_1-5115040-1.html?tag=ftr

The objectives chosen will affect what should be built.

The design should be updated. I would start by reviewing sites that sell similar items.

As the design is developed, the technology should be chosen. The current platform is Windows (?) - I'd recommend a LAMP platform with open source software - specifically:

A CMS (content management system). http://cmsmatrix.org is a good starting point. I like eZ publish (http://ez.no).

An online chat program, or service such as LivePerson.

A more graceful interface into the BestBuy resources, perhaps use of LightBoxes or AJAX dialog boxes.

AJAX should be considered and applied carefully. You may want to look at dojo toolkit (http://dojotoolkit.org). AJAX has some overhead, but can allow a better user experience and extend your server capacity at the same time.

An evolutionary development process may be a good extension of the 'Open Principles Test'. This would engage your audience in choosing from a set of designs, and then integrating them into your chosen application. The initial application launch should probably be just the CMS, with adequate contact options and the necessary links to BestBuy for purchasing. The CMS team should then continue to solicit input from site visitors and respond accordingly. At the same time, additional features can be explored, and implemented - with a feedback process for site visitors.

I think it would be good to keep the site feedback out of the site itself. This blog is a good place for it. The objective of the site is not to develop a new site collaboration approach, but to build a better site for Insignia.

Chris said...

Excellent idea, Clint. A rich opportunity for active demonstration of the power of our people and our brand.

Hope to be a part of it. Thanks!

Pinhigh Sue said...

Clint
As you know, I'm a web person and an associate of yours, but not a BB employee.
First, I think it is mission critical to recreate the Insignia brand as high-tech and contemporary and media-oriented. The current home page looks circa 2003 or so, there is way too much white space, the green is completely wrong for a brand you should be trying to offer (I'd think) as luxury on par with bigger brands but affordable...the home page looks designed to sell relatively middle market kitchen products. The stock photo is...well...nothing you don't know.

If I were building here, I would use video, black, transitions, with optional (default: off) sound. The focus is on MEDIA not the shopping cart or the info or the specs (those should be added info options driving off the brand pages), not front and center in a left nav as they are.

Betsy above said it should be obvious that this is a Best Buy brand. I do not agree here (but again, I'm just a customer with some retail exposure via licensing of larger brands). If I were you, my pitch would be that Insignia is avail EXCLUSIVELy at BB (if anything of the sort). If I were you, I'd get this brand as much as I could on an equal footing with the others in its space, but somehow convey that it is a more affordable price point. I might take a look at "Natures Promise" launch by Giant/Stop n Shop. The branding there is amazing, not at all looking like a direct-to-retail/store/generic brand. It's on par with a whole foods feel at a much stronger price point. It's a brand that could live ANYWHERE, and I think that makes customers feel better than buying a brand they perceive as the low-hanging generic.

I would eliminate all boxed content and make nav, offers, featured product more organic to the home page design.

Okay, I have just a few minutes. I didn't put any gloss on these comments due to time constraints, but that's my quick take on just the UI on home.

have fun.

michaelcallero said...

How about opening it up to up and coming web designers? You could post your strategy brief and a bounty for the best idea. Depending on how open you'd like to be, the actual coding of the site could be part of the experiment.

festivalceo said...

Today's companies have to embrace sustainable business practices or risk being left behind by competitors and the market. The good news is that many are now learning that implementing sustainable business practices and improving profit are not mutually exclusive. I believe Best Buy needs to address the end of the lifecycle for its products.

As a consumer, one of the biggest frustrations I have is what to do with batteries, electronics, CFLs, paint, etc. that no longer work or I no longer need. Best Buy has taken the first step by accepting old cell phones. What about creating an online Insignia marketplace that enables customers to return used/obsolete equipment or lets them auction working Insignia equipment to other customers and receive a credit towards the purchase of new products for doing so? The Insignia LCD I bought for our kitchen was too small to begin with, but I'm sure there's a taker for a 15" LCD TV. I could bring it in to our local Best Buy for inspection and shipment and receive a credit once the product passes inspection and the transaction is complete. Being able to find a new home for it and receive a (significant) credit towards a larger size would be an invaluable service.

Clint said...

I wanted to provide a clarification on my request. Some of you have asked me what my goals and objectives are for the site, what I want to accomplish, etc. I have deliberately witheld some of this information because I want you, the Insignia/Best Buy community to bring your unique voice into the development of this site. This is your opportunity to define the requirements, either from a user experience perspective or from a technical requirements approach. This is literally an open canvas. Your suggestions don't even have to be technically feasible. They just need to be grounded in what you want out of a CE brand.

With that said, some great questions have been asked that I think we can expand on. What do you think a private label website should accomplish? What capabilities should be delivered on the branded site? On bestbuy.com? Should we be explicit about the brand/retailer relationship? How should Insignia/Best Buy engage the community in the future?

Other good input would be what are your favorite sites? Who's doing cool stuff on the web that might integrate into a CE website?

Thank you all who have provided input. I am looking forward to reading all of your suggestions and engaging in the dialogue.

Nic said...

II would first define what the goal of the site is... recognizing the ultimate goal is to get them to buy products; the next question is what will help them decide to purchase this product. Will it help them decide to purchase this product if they come into the store and get a "hands-on" test drive? If so the site has to be designed with that call to action in mind! Or as most folks have become ever more comfortable with simply purchasing online, would peer and/or trusted 3rd party write-ups posted on the site help me in making a decision. For me… I would say “yes” to the trusted 3rd party write-up, and less so to the peer reviews unless I was part of a truly interactive community and there were trusted entities whose postings were reliable (doubtful in this environment). Most of those postings on other consumer sites (especially when you have on 4-6 postings) mean nothing (could be a distributor making positive postings, positive or negative – think John Mackey and Whole Foods). As for Private Label vs Best Buy brand… good question… I personally feel best buy to be of quality, as such, if you marketed a private label, I don’t think I would look negatively upon it!

Either way, regardless of what the goal of the site will be, you do need to at least re-skin it and give it a fresh look and feel!

Clint said...

Adding a posting I received in my in-box

My basic take on the Insignia site:

1. Hard work given what is required to build any online storefront so “Bravo” for simply making it work

2. The buttons and menus are pretty old school relative to design and could be much better – clunky and inelegant

3. The main visual on the Home Page is spare and appears to be what it really is – a photographer’s set ready to be dismantled. This can be much better and needs to work hard if it’s the only visual on the Home Page

4. The headline “All about...” lacks any personality – really all about affordability in relation to your technology (another “cold” moniker) Again, I think this can be significantly improved upon

5. The rollover function is OK but I went to the BBY site and did a simple rollover on the online Sunday insert and the difference was startling – the insert had more energy, depth and dimension than what I found on the Insignia site

6. From a pure utility standpoint, the site is functional, easy to navigate and works well – it’s almost spare so easy to work with

7. The negative to a “spare site” is the lack of dynamism, personality and connection to the user.

Overall, I’d say good start but there are a number of things that could be done quite simply to make it more elegant from a design perspective without taking away from the utility or functionality. There is an overall lack of associating Insignia as BBY’s premium PL brand and a disconnect in terms of how the brand aligns with the customer’s life in a warm, engaging and entertaining way that also is fixable.

My honest assessment, not criticism. I think it’s a “solid single” right now to borrow a sporting analogy but it could be a “stand-up triple” with some basic changes and enhancements.

Andrea said...

This is a great roadmap (even if it's drawn in pencil right now). I'm interested in using the idea to help deliver our ads in ways that are more appealing to our customers. Looking for any smart advice/learnings from your session. I'll check back.

You're clearing the trees, if not yet paving the road. THANKS!

Michele said...

Nice work Clint; i love your approach! Off the top of my end two suggestions come to mind:

1.) Given the value promise of Insignia, consumers might be more open to explore Geek Squad services (see more value in the services vs. hardware over time). Think about how to deliver the "never leave you hanging" brand promise through support and service online. Eg. click to call, chat, integrate support-o-pedia: http://supportopedia.com and/or forums.bestbuy.com.

2.) You had asked about other great experiences. i envision a mash up of community, video, e-commerce as a potential approach. I asked Robert Scoble to share his thoughts on the future of websites and he mentioned we should check out http://winelibrary.com/ as an example. Great story:The owner took 1 year off from his business to learn how social technology would engage more customers. Think about the very social nature by which your Insignia customers shop, learn, and buy.