Simeon Poulin


Always exploring new ways to generate ideas

I conducted a cognitive behavioral experiment with a colleague, Eric Tordiff at Havas New York offices in November of 2014. We asked 9 experience designers and 2 digital content strategists to participate (there was free pizza also). The goal of the project was to explore memory as a tool to streamline a fictitious digital product and it’s features.


The Process
We started with a set of 12 features. We then verbally transmitted the features to a designer in 5 minutes of conversation. The designer was able to ask questions or have the features repeated as many times as possible in the 5 minute period. Then another designer was brought in and the first designer had 5 minutes to transmit the features to the second designer. This was repeated eleven times and recorded.

Initial Feature Set
– Responsive (Desktop, Tablet, Phone)
– Personal-izable (Top 3 Content Categories)
– Add to cart/wish-list
– Content level sharing
– Contact Us/More About Us
– Follow Us/Subscribe
– Connect with Thought Leader (Social Engagement)
– Related Content/Item
– Slideshow/Featured Content
– Upcoming Events Calendar
– Social Feed/Latest Tweets or Posts
– Most Popular content (read or shared)

Emergent Trends
The original features quickly became less important than the overall product. Questions such as “What is the product?” and “Who is the audience?” were asked by several participants. Many of the features began to be blended as well. The simple “shopping cart” and “personalization” features were combined to an “e-ommerce platform”. Once this was established, participants seemed to grasp onto it as the core functionality of the product and all other features revolved around this.

A fair amount of brainstorming occurred as well and many useful suggestions for an e-commerce shopping product emerged. Some of these features included: Filters for products, a bidding system, user-generated videos (reviews and tips), creating a small network of like-minded shoppers, creating a network of product associations. The fictional e-commerce product that emerged even began to be seen as a scalable off-the-shelf shopping product that could be sold on it’s own.

There were also several notable and unexpected things that occurred such as features that were not passed along between participants that then were suggested by later participants. Some of these included integration with social media (there were many creative variants of this) and a personalized shopping experience based on factors such as purchase history and associated products.

The Results
The experiment showed us that creating a concise and memorable set of features becomes much easier once the primary function or role of the product is determined. People bring their pre-existing experiences and associations to the experiment. Remembering 12 features was too hard, but remembering an e-commerce platform with social sharing and user-generated video reviews was much easier.

Once the primary product was established, the later participants in this experiment could not help but brainstorm additional features to supplement the original set. Many of these were truly innovative. This leads to the conclusion that this experiment is useful way to associate features into a product as well as fill out additional features to create something new and innovative.