September 28, 2020

Programmatic

In a world where nearly everyone is always online, there is no offline.

Bringing better UX to life

Full stack UX consultancy Purple Shirt puts the customer at the heart of its design-led research. Dedicated to solving complex end user problems, its collaborative approach and immersive prototype testing is helping brands deliver exceptional customer experiences.


It’s said that most great user experiences go without mention. They simply make life easier and interaction with a brand more seamless. Take for instance, when a passenger needing the bathroom interrupts your movie on an Air New Zealand flight, you simply pull your headset from the audio jack and the video automatically stops. No fussing to find the pause button.

It’s this type of satisfying – yet underrated – user experience (UX) that Steve Alexander and Blake Lough, founders of Purple Shirt, say sticks in the minds of customers. The likes of which the pair have created for brands over the past 10 years with targeted research strategies and immersive prototype design.

Their pragmatic, user-focused research has allowed them to deliver exceptional customer experiences for brands including Auckland Transport, Foodstuffs, ASB, Jucy, Xero and many more across digital, retail, spatial and virtual reality.

“We are different in that UX is primarily what we do and have been doing from day one. We put the end users and customers at the heart of the design process. A lot of companies play in the UX space but lack the discipline and experience behind their approach,” says Alexander.

The specialist team of 18, including UX engineers, embed themselves with brands, working with people who use, or should be using their products and services, allowing them to gain better insight, spot opportunities, validate new products and services and solve problems.

“The immersive research component of our offering is a big part of this as we create realistic environments for end users to provide real feedback that is reliable. This provides us with the actionable insight needed to help brands evolve their product and service offerings,” explains Lough.

This is something both Lough and Alexander are really passionate about and have delivered some really cool projects centred around research. “We are comfortable where things are complex; where scale, complexity and practical innovation collide. We love that stuff, even a bit nerdy about it,” says Alexander.

A great example is the smart shopper trolley Purple Shirt tested for Foodstuffs, bringing the future of your shopping experience to life. “Foodstuffs created a prototype, attached it to a trolley, then we got customers and staff to do their shopping. It’s just so insightful because you see how they interact with the screen, in relation to their own mobile screen, the ergonomics – you really start to see the value that the product is offering. And, you are getting feedback that is not reported but actually being observed.”

Foodstuffs smart shopper trolley.

An important aspect of the work done by this leading UX consultancy is the collaboration with their stakeholders. “We thrive on having the client with us during all our research. We are collaborators. We don’t pretend to know everything about their business, and so gain huge insight from their involvement. At the same time the client gains an operational perspective  and often identifies quick wins during the research process that they can take away and implement,” says Lough.

While digital UX design and delivery has been at the core of Purple Shirt’s offering, the team have elevated their offering to include physical in-situ research. Speaking to this is the work they are doing with Auckland Airport and its terminal redevelopment projects. Using the architect’s 3D model of the check-in process. “Blake sat in front of customers with a game controller facilitating a conversation about the experience, from dropping off the car with the valet service to digital check-in, participants are able to visualise the entire process. It’s essential for mapping out and evolving the user experience,” says Alexander.

Similar research has also been run for the likes of Jucy using VR. “We can adopt all the same processes we use for digital projects in the physical environment. Observing people, moving things around – it gets real fun,” says Lough.

For brands wanting to take their UX offering to the next level, the dynamic duo says it’s important not to get caught up in ambition versus capability, and to have the courage and discipline to invest in ongoing research upfront. “We are certainly seeing increased appetite for brands to do research, but building this into the product/ service lifecycle is really critical,” explains Alexander.

Lough believes that most brands don’t do enough quality research and testing around their products and services, or often sit on stacks of research they don’t know what to do with. “What we do is ask: what immersive research can we do to get those tangible actionable insights out to translate into better experiences? Yes, cost and time are seen as barriers, but in reality because we can quickly turn around building prototypes and testing with the end user, we generate reliable insights that save cost and time over the long term.

For more information on the Purple Shirt offering, click here.

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