BMW M5…. Never underestimate the influence of centrifugal force

17 Dec

Found this ad for the BMW M5 today which i found quite amusing.

Service design through the eyes of a coffee junkie

9 Dec

I came across this article and introduction to the thinking behind service design and felt it needed to be shared.

Service design is a complex process and this article breaks down some of the thought processes using a very simple model – buying a cup of coffee.

It has been written by Jared Cole from Adaptive Path, an inspirational agency delivering product and service design.

Here is the article ease:


The first step is admitting you have a problem.

In a warehouse in Rochester, New York. It was dark and cold, and I remember my feet were wet from the snow. My father and some of his friends were standing in a circle talking, while I was hiding off to the side. After a few minutes, the men parted with handshakes and my father came over to me. He put his hand on my back and we walked into a small office. I stood in the doorway as he walked over to the coffee machine and dropped in some change. I watched him, waiting for the cup to drop, listening to the sputter and spitting of the machine. He pulled the cup from the machine, took a sip and walked back over to me. I’m not exactly sure what happened but the next thing I remember is my father pulling the cup from my lips. My eyes wild, the taste of milk and sugar, and the want for more. From that moment, I was hooked — heavy as lead.

My parents were smart enough to keep me off the bean, but once I had the ability to score for myself, I did. To this day, there few things that deliver such happiness to this dark soul. Thankfully, I’m not so bad off as many that I know, and I am still able to manage my intake, and think objectively about the product and those that sling it. True, the bottom line is still based on my need for a fix, but that doesn’t stop me from thinking about ways to improve my experience. Call me an idealist, but many of the services provided to junkies like myself reduce us to mono-dimensional consumers and they service us as little more than junkies looking for a fix. While this may be true, it neglects the complexity of human needs that should be considered when delivering any product or service.

If we look at this in its most basic form, we are simply talking about ingesting hot water that has been passed through the grounds of a bean. Nothing glamourous. This junkie materialist view, reduces the process of acquisition and consumption down to a simple series of touchpoints, or elements within a service. For example, the ground beans, the hot water, the cash and the cup are a few of the entities that narrowly define the act of getting a fix. If you wanted to map this to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs this would be the foundation.

Taking a more transactional view, ideally not from the perspective of a junkie in need, but a view that is slightly more objective and less dire, we can look at this exchange as something happening between a buyer and a seller. While the relationship is still basically one of utility, there are defined roles between those involved. This view allows us to start seeing the transaction as a provided service, and not simply the material entities that one interacts with. One side of the counter prepares the product, the counter provides a place for exchange, and those on the other side of the counter pay for the product and leave with their cup.

If we open our scope a bit more, we can start to think about the environment around us and the people we are interacting with. Looking back to Maslow, this view would include the Social Needs as well as those of Esteem. As a customer, you are starting to think about the relationships and things around you in more complex ways. The barista knows your name and she knows that you prefer the sweeter short espresso over the bitter long shot. You know that you’ll need to slip the tip into the jar, because she’ll never accept it. Looking around, you identify yourself with those around you. You belong to an elite group; you knew where to find this coffee bar, you know the difference between burr and chop grounds, you know which beans work best in a press and which are meant to be boiled in an ibrik. This relationship between the other customers, the coffee, the environment and the barista, all of these elements play a part in the delivery and receiving of the service experience.

Finally, if we can step away from the hipsters huddled on Ritch Street for a moment, we can start to think about the other factors that went into this whole endeavor. Where did these beans come from? Who grew these beans? How does this impact the sugar and dairy farmers? Is my barista fairly treated? How much water does it take to actually make a single cup of coffee? Why do I keep using disposable cups? These questions start to form the more reflective aspects of the service experience. The relationship between yourself and the cup becomes much more connected to world around you, and the impact you have on the planet and the people on it. Maslow might call this part of the Self-Actualization process, where you are self-secure enough to start asking harder questions and acting based on your perceptions of reality and less based on hipster cred or the latest greenwashing efforts. You start to wonder: what does this cup of coffee really means beyond a simple fix?

I can’t deny that this was written sleepy-eyed and wrapped in the loving arms of a caffeine embrace, but I hope that it starts to outline the importance of thinking about a service (or product) on a number of different levels. Obviously this example is a simple one, but even at this scale, the complexity is significant. The challenges faced by a small coffee roaster will be different than those faced by an international distributor of semiconductors, but ultimately both organizations serve people. As a designer, having an awareness of how your client’s products and services are addressing the needs of their customers on a variety of levels, helps you be more deliberate in the crafting of the service delivery. Recognizing that there is a problem in the way that a service currently views its customers is the first step toward recovery, and an improved service experience.

As a customer, this way of thinking helps you objectively analyze the services that you use and why one service might truly be greater than another. Critical consumption of products and services can only help us improve our own service experiences, and ultimately improve the quality of the options that are presented to us. And with that, I leave you in search of a fair-trade fix and a sympathetic barista. Good luck.



Quote of the week.. technology and creativity

11 Jul

I read this quote in Campaign this week by Jeff Benjamin, CEO of Crispin POrter & Bogusky. It very much sums up my opinion on the subject of technology and creativity, something which we work very hard to achieve with the team here at Nice.

“Agencies can no longer just rely on an art director and copywriter doing it all, we need to make technologists part of the creative team. Tech guys are creative too, they just use different tools, and with digital manifesting itself in so many places, they need to be a clearer part of the mix.”

I know this talks more to the Adland world than digital agencies, but it doesn’t mean its not applicable. Its far too easy to forget the balanced approach. At Nice as we specialise in cross channel experiences using Flex, Air, Silverlight, WPF, iPhone, Android, Symbian, WinMo7. This technology is nothing without great creative, but equally the great ideas and creative is nothing without a deep insight into the capabilities of each platform.

Another astonishing piece of graffiti by Blu

6 Jul

Blu, a graffiti artist renowned for stop motion animation using paint and large outdoor installations has released his latest piece.

It’s epic in length, but also that he’s taken it out of just pain and into real life objects. The best bits are around 3mins and 4mins in.

It’s a must see.

Apple iPad – next generation model leaked

27 May

The Apple iPad is released tomorrow and no doubt a media frenzy will follow. However i’ve been fortunate enough to have a demo of the next generation iPad by the man behind the iNotePad himself.

Apple iPad Next Generation

Apple iPad Next Generation - Flip Apple iPad

The new iNotePad is as versatile as new iPad but at a far lower price point of £8.99. The iNotePad is a sixty page paper notepad with an acetate front sheet and hardboard back. The iNotePad features three styles of page: vertical lined, horizontal lined and blank. This means the iNotePad can be used in all orientations…and is widely compatible with all kinds of hardware, including: pen, pencil, and crayon.

Here is the forthcoming TV advert for the iNotePad.

As you’ve probably guessed this is a spoof, but you’ve got to admit it’s a good one. However you can buy an iNotePad on Shed’s website. I’ve certainly got mine on order as it beats standing in a queue outside the Apple store on Regent street tomorrow morning.

Round 7 – ‘FIGHT’

23 Oct

So it’s begun. The usual onslaught brought on Microsoft when they release anything new.

In Microsoft’s defence i think Windows 7 is a great OS. I ran a copy when it was only in Beta and found it to be an excellent piece of software. If it can run as well as it did on a low spec Samsung NC-10, then it’ll run on most things. I event considered pre-ordering a copy so i could set up a dual boot on my shiny new MacBook Pro – which was my first ever Mac. But alas Snow Leopard has converted me somewhat and the order has still not been placed. I do miss Excel as the Mac Office equivalent is weak to say the least and Numbers is doesn’t pack enough of a punch.

Regardless of whoever is best, the constant duelling does make for great advertising.

Nearest tube, not so near

19 Oct

When taking a weekend out of the city in Devon I thought it would be interesting to see how ‘Nearest Tube’ behaved when it was so far from the city.

See below the results for a cliff top near Salcombe …

Take the stairs

14 Oct

This looks like a whole load of fun. I would hate to hear the noise it would make at 17:00 on stairs down to the tube at Kings Cross.

Adverts which are simply wrong

14 Oct

I came across this advert today. It made me think, as i usually do, about the journey and decision making process the creative team must have gone through to get there.

It also made me think about the rationale behind the ad. Did they think this would be appealing to children?

Yes – children are mischievous and like to tease
Yes – children like Oreo


The udder is made out like something from the movie Alien. I personally would like to see an after watershed version where the udder detaches its self from the cow, eats the oreo and the child, before going on a unstoppable rampage – growing and growing after every oreo it eats.

New Microsoft mice using gestures

6 Oct

Microsoft are in the process of creating/releasing a set of new mice to their hardware range. They look really cool – however some may say that it’s just a gimmick. However if you consider the advances of gestural interactions in Windows 7, the steps forward in hardware technology make a bit more sense.

The first mouse in the video is based on a touch sensitive plate. You can easily imagine how this could actually be one big flat device – like a place mat. It could then easily then be a digital keyboard and mouse all on one.

Minority report becomes a step closer.


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