The Potential of Web Based Video - Last Exit | 3
WE ARE ALL CONNECTED:
THE PATH FROM ARCHITECTURE TO INFORMATION ARCHITECTURE
IA in the Real World: A Case Study
Genex, the web-consulting firm for which I work, has extensive experience in the automotive industry, having been in partnership with a major automaker for more than six years. The firm has delivered a range of web-based solutions that span the auto sales lifecycle.
Customer loyalty is at the core of automotive sales, and the car brand’s web site should be designed to foster awareness, consideration, preference, purchase – and repeat purchases. The “look and feel” of a site is core to communicating the brand’s values and differentiators, key factors to a consumer’s purchase decision. Of equal importance are the processes embedded in the site that facilitate consumer purchase, including car comparisons, “build your car” functionality, 360-degree views of the model and personalized financing planning tools.
Being able to access information through several channels is also important to car buyers. Recognizing this, Genex designed self-service kiosks at the dealerships to facilitate the onsite sales process by providing consumers with on-demand model and financing information as well as the ability to submit a pre-approval form for financing. Kiosks are designed to work with different hardware configurations and within various locations at the dealership.
The purchase is not the end of the process. Just as important is the customer’s experience as an owner, which can bring that person back into the buying cycle when the time is right. An owners’ portal is a highly effective means to continue to engage the customer with the brand, providing a range of services that includes service records, maintenance reminders and finance account management features.
Dealers can also benefit from web technology. Genex has designed a dealer portal that tightly connects dealers with customers and the manufacturers. Much like a library, it contains information a dealer needs to run its daily business, from marketing and sales to service. Sales leads generated by various sites are funneled to a single application where salespeople can manage them effectively. Dealers can also use the portal to manage parts and accessories purchases as well as pricing. Customers can purchase parts and accessories for their vehicles from the owner’s portal, and dealers can set their own pricing as well as manage orders from this dealer portal.
Convergence of Architecture: ‘We Are All Connected’
Stepping back from this real world example, it’s important to keep focused on connections. The physical world is a network where everything touches everything else and everyone touches everyone else. The connection can be physical, financial, emotional or spiritual, but it’s there.
This is even more the case in the virtual world. As its name suggests, the web is a system of connected networks. In our quest for information, we are linked from one site to another and another; there is no beginning or end.
We tend to think that information flows from this superhighway. Indeed, the Internet connects us conveniently to types and quantities of information we have never before experienced. Still, we don’t get all our information from this or any particular channel. Aside from surfing the Internet and reading emails or instant messages, we watch movies and TV, read books, newspapers and magazines, listen to radios, view billboards while driving, talk in person or by phone to family, neighbors, friends, and even strangers. Some of us even write letters to communicate. Most of the time we draw information from firsthand experience – when we do things, visiting places, meeting people, we gain information and experience. And, perhaps, even wisdom.
Based in Los Angeles, Fu-Tien is the senior information and usability architect for Genex. His responsibilities include setting up corporate-wide information design and usability assessment processes, information architecture & user interface design, and mentoring user-centered-design methodology. He is a licensed architect with a post-graduate degree in environment and human behavior. Fu-Tien has transferred his user experience design methodology of architecture and planning to the virtual environment.
Fu-Tien has frequently spoken in professional conferences including the
HFES Annual Conference, CHIFOO, OCCHI, and IA Summit. He has published/contributed
in professional magazines, including IT
World and eBusiness
Advisor. As a native of Taiwan, Fu-Tien has deep understanding of cross
culture user experience. He holds a B. Arch from Tunghai University in Taiwan
and an M. Arch from Georgia Tech in the area of "Environment & Human
Created: May 2, 2003
Revised: December 15, 2003