Feature Design Bloggie Touch MHS-TS20K
Feature Design Bloggie Touch MHS-TS20K

This enjoyable story begins with unboxing

Hata: Orchestrating the user experience from purchase to initial use has become a critical facet of communication design at Sony in recent years. This project was no exception, and we focused closely on developing effective packaging and documentation.

We must invite users into our version of the ideal user experience at the moment of unboxing. The packaging sets the scene for your first real exposure to a product, so it's the starting line for an enjoyable experience. We certainly wanted people to be excited and eager to open the box-to thrill and surprise you when you first see the camera. This time, we created black inner packaging that resembles a fine gift box.

Open the box, and there's the camera, right in front of you. Presenting it this way was a key point in packaging design. Normally you're confronted with manuals and cables, and under all that lies the product itself, wrapped up in a protective pouch. This presentation is quite different. Inner surfaces are lined with velvety cloth. The packaging almost seems more fitting for jewelry or a fine watch than a camera.

For Sony, the packaging breaks new ground. Not long ago, our preferred approach for North America was clear packaging that showed the product, complete with phrases and icons describing product functions. But now, the North American market is surprisingly sensitive to packaging, perhaps even more so than in Japan. Because this project began in North America, we were able to focus on enhancing product value through the packaging.

We faced a few hurdles in quality assurance, with this kind of packaging. The box had to pass vibration testing, and we had to keep paper dust away from the camera, among other things. It was not an easy feat. We also had to account for worldwide product launches in the future, and we knew that customizing the box to suit local markets would be difficult. Still, I believe that packaging truly can enhance product value, and in this sense, packaging is like an extension of products themselves. We should consider the packaging of all Sony products as carefully as this. The engineers and I did our best, hoping to set a good precedent in this project.

Charting the shortest path to enjoyment

Suzuki: The ideal user experience starts before you begin using a product, as mentioned. In this case, the briefer and clearer the instructions, the better. After all, it would be disappointing right after you buy the camera or receive it as a gift to find a thick manual you have to read first. This product in particular was designed to be straightforward and easy to understand. Certainly the manual should reflect this ideal.

I set out to narrow down the information to fit on a single sheet of paper, which would be accordion-folded (into eight pages) to match the size of the camera.

Open the box, take out the camera and tray, and you'll see the instructions stored underneath. One side introduces what you can do with the camera, organized by shooting, playing back, and sharing video. We wanted to entice people to try the camera right away, even if they received it as a gift. If you glance at both sides of the instructions, you'll already know enough to shoot and connect the camera to your computer.

In several ways, the instructions are a good match for this camera. It's fitting that they're printed in color, for example. We narrowed down textual information as much as possible, preferring illustrations. It shows you how to turn the camera on and how to start shooting, and reading it requires minimal effort. Some people might be tempted to return products they think are too difficult for them to use, especially in North America. We must also avoid making manuals seem difficult. Toward this end, we conducted local research, considered what information to present, and confirmed suitability of phrasing.

This manual design is rather bold, which matches the product concept, but it also shows the direction we're taking in documentation quite plainly. We want people to start enjoying products as soon and as efficiently as possible. At the same time, we support the trend toward "paperless" documentation. For this reason, the changes are now underway to provide the information in the product UI or online, rather than provide the printed manuals. In this, you can see our stance of wanting to offer people the new entertainment that's available once they begin using Sony products.

Arie: Since this model was released, we have enjoyed greater presence in the North American MP4 camera market, and we are steadily building market share. At CES this year, we also announced a 3D-ready version, which made waves.

In the sense that across the board, Bloggie Touch was created in line with market needs, the project was significant. This is product development firmly in touch with market trends, which differ around the world. It's a clear demonstration of one direction Sony design is taking.

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