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User experience and the changing room

Alex and I were discussing over coffee at the office this morning the amazing job Apple did in their retail experience, and were imagining the areas in which clothing retailers could improve their shopping experience. One glaring example in which some attention is badly needed is the changing room.

The changing rooms in many retail outlets are surprisingly overlooked, when you consider they’re often the place at which a consumer makes the final purchase decision.

  • Many retailers start off the experience by suggesting you’re an unwanted thief. You have to ask for a key, because all the doors are locked. And don’t think about taking in more than three garments at a time.

  • Some have curtains, rather than doors, which can leave the timid a bit too focused on preventing the world from getting a sneak peek at their backsides. The good places have solid doors, that make a comforting clunk when closing.

  • Often, changing rooms provide nowhere to place the clothes you’re taking off. Who wants to drop their clothes in a big clump on the floor? The good places provide hangars, a bench or a shelf. (And this concept can be extended to other consumer needs we can anticipate — like what to do with the 22 pins evidently required to hold a folded shirt in place.)

  • And last, but definitely not least, there’s the lighting. How do they get such an obvious thing so wrong? We’ve all been there, getting half-naked in a changing room lit by cheap florescent bulbs, casting their light down at just such an unflattering angle that one glimpse in the mirror provokes a quick decision that the more prudent purchase would be a gym membership.

Published inDesign


  1. Mårten Mårten

    Some H&M stores in Stockholm have two lighting options: a cold, blueish “outdoor” color and a warm “indoor” color. Wonderful.

  2. Stefan Seiz Stefan Seiz

    Great idea! Here in Germany, many changing rooms aren’t even being cleaned properly and often even smell badly. You really wonder why no shop keeper pays any attention to this. Until your post, i didn’t either, but now that you posted this, i think i can never ever use a “typical” changing room again 😉

  3. Des Traynor Des Traynor

    You should watch this TED talk where IDEO redesigned the changing room. Skip to 5 minutes in.

    Impressive stuff.

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