Creating a Human Experience with iBeacons.

…more than just marketing spam.

iBeacons are proximity based sensors…

They are not just a reboot of marketing spam. The last thing we should be focusing on is bombarding users with unnecessary spam notifications.

Apple Store iBeacon in-store Notification

Companies need to understand that by using iBeacons for marketing notifications, they are contributing to a bad user experience. If a customer was browsing a store, it would be bad form to verbally interrupt them, and it isn’t any different than doing so digitally. What user is going to jump for joy when they’re receiving notifications for something they may not want or care about? It comes back to contextunderstanding your user and what their needs and wants are at that moment.

It’s all about context
Designing the contextual interface
Within our real-time connected, internet everywhere, multiscreen world, we are discovering that context matters more than ever. No longer are we tethered to a beige plastic tower on a desk. We tell the internet when and where we want to access it. Surprisingly, the builders of the web are only recently discovering that one-size doesn’t fit all. Our first step has been dealing with screen sizes and being able to pour content into the many vessels available. Those approaches come in the form of two things you just might have heard something about: responsive and adaptive web design.

Understanding user context will help to create notifications that are more relevant and less spam-like. Understanding the best possible experience for your user and using iBeacons as a supplement to cater to their needs will create a pleasant customer experience, which in turn, contributes to brand loyalty, etc. And the best (and only) way to understand user context is to deep-dive into user research and testing.

One major thing companies have to consider is when a user/customer is close to something rather than where the user/customer is. Once they understand how to effectively use proximity and the role it plays with their customers, they’ll finally be able to leverage the full power of iBeacons.

MLB testing out iBeacons at stadiums.

When thinking about using iBeacon notifications, remember one thing:

The value of these contextual notifications need to outweigh the cost of their time and privacy.

Something else to take into account when designing iBeacon notifications is how to present these notifications so the user is in control. How do these contextual notifications function and is the user able to engage with the notifications? Is it always a passive experience, or can the user initiate the actions?

Some things to consider?
What happens when phone is off and users are close to the iBeacons?

What happens when phone is on and users are close to the iBeacons?

What happens when they open the app and users are close to the iBeacons?

How do you tell users whats going on, or how to take advantage of the iBeacons? Signage?

Do you hide the iBeacons?

Do you make the iBeacons visible to showcase the experience and show transparency with privacy?

Some iBeacon ideas; food for thought.
Wait Time: Intelligently capture line wait times. Bubble-up data to the user so they can make the right decisions.

In Store Mobile Checkout : Or Contact-less Payment. Enable specialized in-store features and pre-populate them. Maybe combine that with ApplePay.

ATMs: Proximity based security and dumb terminals.

Restaurant Drive-Thru's: Order food using your phone when you come close to the menu sign. No more horrible speaker mumbling and incorrect ordering.

iBeacons can offer endless opportunities to better engage with your customers and to provide seamless experiences for them if used in a way that keeps their wants and needs the focus. Learn about your user, understand their context and use iBeacons to enhance the experiences you create for them.

To learn more about how to effectively use iBeacons, check out my other articles on Contextual Experiences and How I Tracked My House Movements Using iBeacons.

I’m the VP of Experience Innovation at Universal Mind — A Digital Transformation Agency. You can follow me on twitter at @merhl.