Friday Five: taxi subscriptions and Snapchat does desktop

Zone’s Letty Key handpicks and shares the five best stories on new digital trends, experiences and technologies…

1. Making exercise personal

High-end sport and athleisure wear brand Lululemon has always been a champion of helping customers work out which product is right for them, but now it’s taking things a step further, using tools attached to treadmills to measure the unique print of how individual human bodies move and build a digital profile.

The aim is to assess how different people feel when exercising in its products and find out what is important to them. This fine-tuned level of personalisation enables the brand to cater to those who experience the same products differently by finding the perfect solution for their own body and preferences. It’ll be interesting to see how the digital data is connected up with actual products served to customers.

2. IKEA dishes out some home truths

Another brand that is putting a nuanced, subjective and ultimately more human focus on its data and research is IKEA, with the release of its third annual Life at Home report. Starting out as an internal exercise in customer and product research, the report has grown to become a cultural analysis that yields some interesting insights.

Research creates empathy, and this is an excellent illustration of something that benefits the company, but also provides valuable knowledge for the world at large. So be sure to check out some of the findings, but I’m equally fascinated by the why and how of the report. This is a great example of a company sharing knowledge and clearly prioritising customer experience in the deepest sense.

3. Subscribe for a cheap ride

So Uber and Lyft have both recently announced subscription packages in the US. Which isn’t entirely surprising, as subscriptions suit this kind of digital pay-as-you-go service, but what’s interesting here is to see the two very different approaches the companies will be taking.

Lyft’s £230-a-month offering is supposedly aimed at getting people to use the service instead of their own personal transport (or in fact any other transport), while Uber has opted for a small subscription fee (£11.60 a month), which gets riders a discounted flat rate on all trips. The goals of the two brands don’t widely differ, but the mindset people would need to be in to pick one or the other seems very different.

4. Snap up some new camera software

Snapchat has been calling itself a camera company — as opposed to an app or social network — for a long time now. And it’s finally acting on the niche it’s carved out for itself (sort of), by making the jump from smartphone to desktop software.

Snap Camera gives you access to an array of AR lenses that can be used with Skype, Twitch and other video streaming and calling services. Lenses are arguably one of the most popular features of the Snapchat app, and something that Snap is still miles better at than anyone else, so I think this is a good move, even without the conversational element.

5. Every vote counts. Or does it?

The Florida ballots for the Bush v Gore election in 2000 are often held up as examples of very bad UX, given that the layout was unclear to the point of being actively misleading. Well, there are reports of a similar thing happening in the US’s midterm elections thanks the electronic voting machines being used in Texas.

Lag times when users click on a loading screen are apparently causing votes to be recorded incorrectly, leaving people unsure as to whether their actions and intentions have been translated accurately. It’s absolutely mind-bending that getting the experience and functionality right wasn’t an absolute minimum threshold tested before these were put into service. Come on, folks, it’s 2018.

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We write about customer experience, employee experience, design, content & technology to share our knowledge with the wider community.