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Meet Nova

An intelligent voice assistant for The North Face, designed to elevate the customer’s experience throughout the product cycle

Roles

User Research, Ideation, Motion Design, Conversation Design,
UI Design and Prototyping.

Timeline

Sep - Oct 2023

Team

Aishwarya Shetty
Lia Purnamasari
Xiaoyu Huang

Tools

Figma, After Effects, Illustrator

CHALLENGE

How can the North Face digital experience be enhanced using a conversational AI agent?

CONTEXT

Who is The North Face? 

An American outdoor recreation products company.

The North Face produces outdoor clothing, footwear, and related equipment.

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The North Face expanded their product line to cater to a wider audience and be a more accessible brand to explorers of varying levels of expertise.

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Multiple factors need to be considered while purchasing winter wear or outdoor gear.

Additionally, planning and packing for outdoor trips can be stressful for new explorers.

As international students with limited knowledge on appropriate winter wear for Pittsburgh and no easy access to a North Face store in the city, we first hand felt the need for a personalized experience while purchasing winter wear online.

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FEATURES
Nova's Capabilities
We re-imagined how our users purchase products, plan and pack for trips in a collaborative manner, and also how they take care of their products. Through Nova, we aimed to enhance the entire product purchase and use cycle.
Pain Point: "I don't know what to buy"
Personalized Purchase
Pick the right kind of clothing specific to their personal preferences.
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PAIN POINTS

The Current Digital Ecosystem

Navigation Issues

Poor UI and lack of intuitive design elements.

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Cognitive Load and Decision Paralysis

Difficulty in understanding product information

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Preliminary Research 
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Fly on the wall at the local winter wear store

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25 survey responses on shopping & travel pain points

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5 interviews with customers and outdoor explorers

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Casual User's Pain Points
Uncertainty in purchasing winter clothing due to lack of knowledge.

Does not know how to care for and maintain their purchased products or North Face’s services.
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"I'm feeling completely lost when it comes to figuring out what I need to buy for the winter. I am heavily relying on my local friends to understand what I will need.
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Explorer’s Pain Points
Planning and packing for a trip is stressful due to uncertainty about gear suitability for a journey.

Gear is expensive for ocassional use

Difficult to coordinate among friends while packing.
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"I love camping, but the amount of planning required is alot more for me since I don't know what I'll need. I ask my other 'trekker' friends.
We identified that the current online experience is confusing and disorienting. It lacks personalization and extension of The North Face’s values throughout the product purchase and use cycle. 
Another important point to note was the reliance on a friend who knows about the weather/location of the trip or is an 'expert'.

We mapped out the pain points of both users to further identify the appropriate points of intervention.
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Casual Users
Design Opportunities
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Helping users pick the right kind of clothing specific to the weather they’re traveling to/living in.

What do I buy?

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Helping users pack pack lightly and appropriately for a trip.

How do I pack?

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Ease the coordination of packing between the members of a group traveling together

Coordinate with friends

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Proposing a rental solution to meet user’s short-term needs.

The gear is expensive!

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Providing assistance to care for their gear, repair or refurbish them.

After care

PROBLEM STATEMENT

How can we elevate the North Face experience to make sure that users are well prepared for all their upcoming adventures?

We envisioned a combined journey that demonstrates how a CUI can help an explorer purchase, plan, and pack for a trip, in addition to taking care of gear after. Through this journey, we also demonstrate how a casual user’s pain points can be addressed (purchase), with a CUI as an expert friend.
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DEFINING NOVA

Nova's Personality
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To align North Face’s values and Nova’s features, we mapped them out, thus identifying her values. 

Visual Style
The existing visual system for North Face is minimal and lacked the fun of exploration, thus failing to be in alignment with their efforts to expand their customer base and seem like an accessible outdoor brand.
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We expanded the existing color palette and added fun accent colors that the North Face uses frequently through imagery and in their products. Our proposed visual system is as follows:
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Arriving at the Final Form
For the visual form, we wanted Nova to capture the steadiness of a mountain. We landed on our finalized form after multiple rounds of iteration.
GUIDING PRINCIPLES
Shapes: Dynamic shapes
Colors: Red, white
Styles: Modern, Geometric
Feel: Approachable, Inspiring
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FINALIZED FORM
An abstraction of a mountain
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Arrow to signify resilience
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MOTION MATRIX
Interface Design
To fix the navigation issues and reflect the brand identity to the UI, we re-imagined the UI
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Watch Nova in Action

Notes:


 

With the Buddy Systems feature, for the sake of the video and features of the CUI, we did not explain how the ‘North Face friends’ community works. I have outlined it below for a better understanding:
 

We realized that we were adding features like ‘Easy Rentals’ that is a UX decision at a business level to suit our narrative for the sake of this project. It was important to highlight the speculative nature of that decision.

 

From our critique in class, we realized that the ‘Smart Packing’ by guiding the user through each item could be too prescriptive for the user. Our next steps would be to:
a. Re-evaluate how smart-packing can be done in a non-repetitive manner. b. Improve the iPad UI.

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Note 1
Note 2
Note 3
Seeds of wisdom (Personal notes/reflections) 
  • Being cognizant of transitions between animation states will ensure smoother transitions.
  • A recurring theme from classes have been to recognize the implications of AI usage on data privacy. Being aware of making the user aware of this in an effective manner.
  • There’s a lot of merit in including the CUI for tasks that could be automated, or there’s a large data pool to identify and sync important points for the user.
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