In last week’s class, Shelley Armstrong, a Microsoft veteran, spoke about the inception of the Xbox 360. Happy as a freelance designer, Shelley was excited about the opportunity to help rework the Xbox and considered it possibly a “dream job.” She mentioned many interesting facts that lead up to the launch of the Xbox 360, one that stood out to me most was the people factor. She stressed the importance of finding the right people to drive the product to success. Finding the right people meant finding knowledgeable people passionate about the gaming space and equipped with the tools it took to execute effectively. View high def product demo.
Apart from the people aspect, the team really listened to the consumer through usability testing. Regarding
the blades of the UI for the Xbox 360, Armstrong’s team presented 4 different UI scenarios; the blade design was only one of these concepts. From the usability testing they were able pick and choose popular aspects of each design and incorporate it into the final blade UI design.
People can get lost in their work if they’re also a consumer, especially when they are working on something they love. Conducting usability testing is a great way to make sure you evaluate your design from an objective viewpoint. If UI testing (or additional testing on other components) had not been done, the team might have chosen something biased by their game designer perspective.
But don’t run off thinking success aspects of the Xbox 360 lies within the design and implementation of the actual unit…don’t forget packaging. Armstrong went into detail about the importance of the consumer’s experience after bringing the console home and opening it for the first time. She said they were aiming not for perfection, but for magic. Special consideration was given to the packaging design. Instructions were depicted by graphical icons so it was easier to understand and didn’t contain stacks of manuals. Doing this creates a better user experience because setting up the machine appears easy.
The Xbox 360 is a success partially due to the design, and secondly by the marketing. Nintendo‘s GBA Micro unfortunately did not have the same success and was one of the biggest failures in Nintendo‘s history. Revolutionary in its small design, the GBA Micro launched with positive reviews but failed to hit the mark. With many fun features, from its slim size and customizable detectable faceplate, this device failed to connect with its audience because it needed a whole new set of components, didn’t support games from previous versions, and had a clumsily small design. This device also launched at E3 in conjunction with the Wii, which might have affected the attractiveness of the unit. Gamepro quotes Nintendo’s response, “we failed to explain its unique value to consumers.” From this we can determine that their usability research was not as successful as the Xbox 360.