Designing user-friendly technology
A Design Council case study

Below is a list of Business Case Studies case studies organised alphabetically by company. To view more companies, please choose a letter from the list below.

Page 2: Creating brand values

MPC understood the importance of creating a strong brand. Roy Doughty was appointed to develop brand values which would be reflected in all their products and services.
They were to be:

  • owned by the user
  • user friendly
  • secure and personal
  • widely available
  • efficient
  • affordable
  • progressive

MPC’s design strategy was shaped by three major considerations. It had to take account of market research findings, fit in with the company’s overall business strategy and comply with regulatory requirements.

Market research – getting to know the customer.

MPC carried out market research which showed that:

  • Consumers wanted to feel in control of the handset, yet were often unable to use all the functions of existing mobile phones.
  • Pricing was critical, although customers understood that the handset price was only one component of the overall cost.
  • There appeared to be a maximum acceptable size (300 cm) and weight (300 g), although some consumers felt sceptical about the capabilities of small handsets.
  • Existing users were familiar with operating systems of traditional mobile phones.

In the light of this research, MPC forecast a 20% share of a market approaching 8 million subscribers by the year 1999/2000. They simulated a 400 user trial on an existing network to test the acceptability of a personal communications tariff. The results indicated an acceptance of the concept and the potential for trials to increase purchase intent.

Business strategy and regulatory requirements

Design Council 2 Image 1MPC set out to make sure that its network would be in use as quickly as possible. In the first two years it expected much of the demand to come from the business sector, followed closely by private use. It required a handset which facilitated maximum use of its network and could be produced in volume, to a high standard of reliability.

A condition of the licence granted to MPC was that handsets be “type approved” by the Department of Trade and Industry and the British Approvals Board for Telecommunications. Type approval was intended to make sure that equipment did not interfere with other telecommunications services. It also ensured that safety and comfort of the user were incorporated into the product. To be type approved, a handset had to pass up to 350 tests. The design of the handset in terms of its appearance, interface between the user and the machine and actual hardware all had to fulfil regulatory requirements.

MPC felt the handset should also have some brand image which would be transferable to future handsets produced by different manufacturers. Extra services such as voicemail, call divert, call wait and number storage needed to be easy to use, as these represented an effective way of increasing air traffic per consumer.

MPC saw the development of a unique One 2 One man-machine interface (MMI) as the best way of fostering an enduring brand identity. It could be flexible enough to be incorporated into other handsets produced by manufacturers with different approaches to design. A unique MMI as a retail concept, rather than colour schemes or bold graphics which could date rapidly, was clearly more sustainable.

Design Council | Designing user-friendly technology