New Intel site challenges assumptions about how we shop

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An Intel Core Processor isn’t the sort of product a consumer can test drive before buying — or is it?

As described in Brandweek, my employer Razorfish recently launched for Intel a new website that makes it possible for consumers to learn more about Intel Core processors — not through a “how to” description but via an interactive experience that includes a product test drive.

According to Malia Supe, Razorfish client partner on the Intel account, the Razorfish design team was guided by a single goal: convince consumers that the right processor is key to their purchasing decision, and do so in three steps: Explore, Test Drive, and Shop. That’s because computing power ranks high on the list of considerations for buying a new device, but it’s not apparent to consumers that choosing a more powerful computer starts with choosing the right processor.

“With the new Intel Core Experience, we want to focus on the needs of mainstream computer users who might not understand or care about the role a processor plays in their purchase decision,” Malia told me. “These consumers trust Intel as a brand, but they need help understanding why the processor is important to their overall computing experience.”

So here’s how the site works: you are asked to identify the most common way you use a computer (via two simple questions). Based on your input, the site recommends the best processor for your needs. For instance, let’s say you identify music as one of your computing needs. From there, the site will ask if you need computing for listening or creating music. If you’re a listener but do not need the computing power to create content, the site might recommend, say, the the Intel Core i3. Then with a click of a “start shopping” button, you can shop for a computer or laptop with that processor.

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In all the site identifies five activities to guide your Test Drive: music, photography, home computing, entertainment, and gaming.

According to Malia, “Our approach to the site experience is something new for both consumers and the industry: put the processor ahead of the computer as a starting point for making a purchase decision. We are guiding consumers from the inside-out of the computer, which really turns on its head the conventional thinking about how we shop. Designing the experience around consumers’ passions, such as music and photography, is the key to our approach. No matter their passion, consumers can see how their behaviors drive processor recommendations, and they can identify the ideal processors for their needs.”

The team designed a simple, no-nonsense site: no fancy graphics, just a focus on quickly guiding the consumer to the right computer matched with the most suitable processor. Accordingly, the navigation moves the visitor along a linear “Explore, Test Drive, and Shop” journey.

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The clean design reflects a deliberate strategy on the part of Intel and Razorfish, Malia said. “We wanted to create an experience a consumer would not expect from a high-tech company, free of detailed specs and technology jargon,” she said. “We also wanted to demystify the processor.”

The site also employs an interesting approach familiar to web designers, the liquid layout. The size of the site retracts and expands automatically to fit the size of your computer screen, using a Flash application that Razorfish designed for Intel.

The Intel Core Processor Experience site is a natural extension of the Intel/Razorfish relationship. “Intel repeatedly asks Razorfish how we can apply innovation to redefine Intel’s role with consumers, and our team thrives in an innovation-focused environment,” Malia added.

I think the Intel Core Processor Experience site is a good example of building a brand through an experience as opposed to a message. And yet the experience need not be chock full of bells and whistles. So far early data show lots of repeat visits and dwell time especially on important areas of the site, like the shopping functionality.

If you have any questions about the work, let me know. Your comments are welcomed.

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