In 2007, the PS3 and PSP platforms were underperforming, Wii was a juggernaut, Xbox and Nintendo DS were relentlessly encroaching and the all-important holiday shopping season was in sight. PlayStation was up against some fierce competition.
The bright spot was a big one: PlayStation has the most powerful game systems. And they had a great story. It was just being poorly told.
First, Sell Some Game Systems
Our first assignment went to the heart of the problem. PlayStation asked us: What can we do within Playstation.com to generate excitement and sales?
At the time, the site was unconvincing. The PS3 and PSP sections offered little more than text and a scant few images. They lacked emotional impact.
We believed that selling a premium gaming system required an exciting, high-production value experience. So we created custom interactive pieces for both the PS3 and PSP. They combined video, animation, graphics and voice-over to showcase the most exciting features of each system. These stories, when viewed together, served as a 6-7 minute showcase of system features and games. See for yourself – PS3 and PSP.
Following the success of our first project, we were asked to take on a complex interface design challenge on the PS3 platform itself.
More than a million users a week browse the web on their PS3s. Almost all of them start at the PS3 browser home page. But this critical gateway had serious shortcomings. First, the interface wasn’t designed for display on a television or for use with the PlayStation controller, making it illegible and difficult to use. Second, the page wasn’t serving any business goals. It was a missed opportunity.
We redesigned this high-traffic gateway in a TV-friendly interface that promotes new games and accessories and provides links to popular sites. The interface automatically configures itself for the unique color-space and resolution characteristics of either standard-definition NTSC or high-definition displays. Navigation was also improved with an interface designed for D-pad hardware controls.
A Refresh of PlayStation.com
By early 2008, when the PlayStation team asked us to redesign key aspects of their US website, we were excited to apply our experience from the previous initiatives at a larger scale.
We began with a strategic deep dive. A review of the existing site and a round of stakeholder interviews highlighted that the site’s organization and lack of clear visual design standards were the source of many problems.
Armed with this knowledge, we pinpointed some key areas with greatest potential to improve sales and reshape the overall user experience: more social participation and more timely content.
We designed the site around a new organizational concept that would aggregate content and services around gaming system hubs. We also increased the metabolism of these hubs by integrating the latest stories from the PS Blog and third-party publications as well as community activity like user reviews and comments. Finally, we lavished it all with a glossier, smarter visual presentation.
Most recently, PlayStation asked us to take a closer look at gamers and uncover some ways they could build a more meaningful relationship with this changing group. We identified the key audience segments, surfaced some relevant trends and recommended a range of strategies. Making these ideas real is the next step in our very fruitful collaboration.