The design goals
for the new AV receiver
The process of connecting
the UX and UI with the final design
Connecting with the market
and the end-users
The future of animation
and UX design
to function and form with
the new AV series receivers
Connecting with the market and the end-users
Q: When designing the User Experience (UX), it's obviously very important to look at things from the perspective of the users. How do you go about doing that?
I try to ask myself, "What do customers do while in their cars?" or, "What are they thinking about, what do they look at along the way?" In other words, I think about various possible patterns of activity for our users. It may seem simple, but that's ultimately what UX is all about, I think.
There are various approaches available in regards to UX development that we consider during each part of the design process. One of those approaches is to define our "target users".
Q: When you envision the ideal customer that the product is for?
Yes, and it's an important thing to do because it helps us sort out our motivations for making certain design decisions. Are we doing something out of our own desire to make the kind of product we want? Or, are we doing it to solve a problem that our users are experiencing? It's surprising how often we forget that solving problems is the essence of product design. If we can understand our target users, then we can also understand their sensibilities and preferences, and improve our ability to solve any problems they might want to solve with our products. However, since this target user segment is always shifting, identifying it is easier said than done.
Q: Drawing manga is an opportunity to express yourself creatively. Meanwhile, Mr. Kakimoto and Roy's work involves both creative expression and problem solving. In that regard, the approach for producing manga is a bit different from that of UX/UI design.
Of course, but I do think manga has the potential to guide the end user. To read a manga, a user has to be active in turning the pages. In order to keep readers intrigued so that they keep repeating that action, stories need to be crafted and paced with very exacting calculations.
When we are making a product, we are constantly thinking of a user's persona–an image of the user that is easily identifiable and sympathetic, and we try to capture this image in our design. Do you think of a user's persona when drawing manga?
In a way, yes. Manga is always going to look like as comics look - pages divided into panels with pictures. That's the same whether you are drawing manga for a youth-targeted magazine, a graphic novel collection, an educational text, and so on. The words you use, and the story you tell, however, will be quite different depending on the type of publication. By changing your approach, you are ultimately homing in on your target users. More to the point, making something to be published in a specific magazine means that the age-range of your audience is already pretty much set. In recent years, though, this notion of a set audience for each type of magazine seems to be breaking down somewhat. For example, there might be a magazine whose title include the words "for boys", but over half the people who buy it are women. But that doesn't mean I should necessarily draw my manga with women in mind.
It seems like, regardless of gender, something about the manga in that magazine clicks with the reader's subconscious. I think manga artists anticipate what sort of reader is going to connect with a given work before creation.
Q: Roy, what sorts of promotions would you run in this sort of situation?
If a user segment no one anticipated started buying a product? Whenever we get involved in making something new, be it a new product or a new project, our first move is to create a plan and set goals. The plan is always based on whatever information we can gather at the time. Despite that, of course, there are lots of times when things don't turn out as we originally envisioned. What I am trying to say is that no matter how you plan, there's no way to perfectly predict the future.
Q: How do you feel about usability tests?
If the UX is a high priority, I think you should run user trials even if there are several limitations on what you can do. This is because such trials let you see how real users connect with your product and this is important for understanding how to link the product to your user base and vice-versa.
Q: Earlier, Mr. Akatsu was talking about buying trends for manga magazines among various demographics like how ratings for TV shows are organized. These are actual reactions to a product and so doesn't that scope go well beyond usability tests?
Honestly, animation could be said to be one big commercial. Typically, a huge amount of importance is placed on an animated show being able to function as a commercial and sell toys, goods, or what have you. That's why the sponsors are often toy manufacturers and the like. In fact, just 20 years ago, they were practically the only sponsors! But since then, the advent of DVD and other media has created the option for animation itself to be sold as a product. That's what allowed animation, like manga before it, to start to have its own intrinsic commercial value. That's why I think it may be a misconception to call animation an extension of manga.
Q: There are all sorts of users who have varying problems or needs which they want to address. What is the target demographic for the new AV series receiver?
While we sometimes create products geared towards a specific subset of users, the new AV series receiver is being designed and manufactured to appeal to all types of users. I believe that those users will be very happy with what we've created.
to be continued Vol.4