ERL12 – Between physical and digital: understanding cross-channel user experiences

Andrea Resmini @resmini

  • In the Name of the Rose: labyrinth in the book and labyrinth in the movie have to be shown/described differently even though they are the same thing
  • Institute for the Future think tank – “cyberspace is not a place you go to but rather a layer tightly integrated into the world around us” (like foursquare, or big realtime displays in airports/train stations constantly updated, or all the information coming into our smart phones)
  • same task but many different interfaces – can get a book from the circ desk, search on the library website, go to Amazon, check the library mobile app, etc. – but the only thing that matters is getting the damn book
  • activities and artifacts merge into complex experiences
  • channels are all the different media devices/info sources – physical library is a channel, labelling system is a channel, circ desk is a channel, website is a channel, mobile app is a channel – but they don’t work together –silos – things don’t communicate with each other, can’t start transaction online and finish it at the local branch, etc. (well, depends on what task and what library)
  • in cross-channel experiences user constantly move between channels and will not stay in any single one of them from start to finish


1. info architectures are becoming open ecologies– no artifacts isolated, all artifacts are connected in one single user experience – things need to flow! Think of Apple’s various products working seamlessly together

-artifacts are competing in open ecologies – when I decide to buy a pair of shoes, I decide between brands but I also decide to buy shoes rather than a PS3 – users have competing desires and we can’t always predict what these are

2. users become intermediaries- participants in these ecosystems actively produce and re-mediate content and meaning all the time

3. static becomes dynamic – ecologies are perpetually unfinished, always changing, always open to further refinement and manipulation – agile development? –wikipedia for example, always being edited

4. dynamic becomes hybrid –boundaries separating media, channels and genres get thinner

5. horizontal prevails over vertical – intermediaries push for spontaneity, ephemeral structures of meaning and constant change

6. products become experiences – focus shifts from how to design single items to how to design experiences spanning multiple steps – the book is not just about the book, but the information and experience it provides – your library fails if it has all the books but the circulation experience sucks

7. experiences become cross-channel experiences – bridge multiple connected media, devices and environments into seamless ubiquitous ecologies


Jill Emery, Portland State – “Who doesn’t have a cell phone?”rather than “Who here has a cell phone?” -trying to not out-design our audience’s technology and thinking of those people who don’t have all these fancy devices and can’t use all the channels

A: we still have to service everyone. Not talking just about mobile experiences, but by thinking about cross-channel experiences we can help these people without fancy phones etc. because we always have a backup plan or other options that can fill the void – multiple ways they can do the same thing and get to our services

–this is a big problem for us in libraries as we keep looking forward trying to see what new tech we need to jump on – but we still can’t ignore our users who don’t have this tech (or don’t have it yet)

@JWhyteAppleby: how do you build a seamless experience when it feels like you’re battling publishers/vendors at every step?

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