CO-CREATION IN VIRTUAL WORLDS:  THE DESIGN OF THE USER EXPERIENCE  


Bringing customers into the co-creation environment is not always easy. Therefore, Kohler et al., (2011) believe virtual technology is the next crucial tool that can leverage the co-creation between firms and customers. In the study, they investigate how people can be attracted to co-create virtually. The authors pick an online game called Second Life. Basically, it is an online virtual world in which the players can socialize, connect, and do pretty much regular activities that can be done in the real world. In this world (or game), the authors conducted 3 different experiments in 3 different co-creation systems called Ideation Quests (IQ) where existing communities (frequent players) were participating. Not only it is unique, it has never been done properly before. For that reason, this article has given significant contribution with regard to how firms should design virtual co-creation environment so as to leverage co-creation.

Building upon the virtual customer experience of Nambisan (2007, 2008, 2009), the authors worked together with KTP and Philips for the first 2 Ideation Quests. After the collaboration between these companies and participants finished, the authors evaluate the co-creation systems (IQ) by conducting an in-depth interviews, observing participant’s behavior, and studying the log analysis (Heat Map) and interaction among avatars. The evaluation is used to identify what are elements of participant’s experience in the virtual world that encourage them to co-create virtually. As a result, there are 5 dimensions of experience that are believed to increase the likelihood of online players to participate in virtual co-creation process.

Firstly, pragmatic experience is measured from the information quality and technological aspect. From the study, interactive objects are seen as very important learning opportunity so customers can understand the new product/idea quickly. Furthermore, the IQ should incorporate audio, video, or even animation effects to catch customer’s attention effectively. Then, participants must be introduced to immersive type of co-creational situation that stimulate multiple senses (instead of instruction-based situation).

Secondly, sociability experience is what allows the participants to interact with others easily. Firms can create events to attract huge number of people and allow collaboration among them to manifest. The firm’s representatives should also be interacting with the customers as majority of participants expect to have direct contact with the brand as well. Subsequently, firm may help providing individual support that can reduce participants’ cognitive cost.

Thirdly, usability experience is measured by how the computer can understand what the player wants and vice versa. To avoid such confusion, the infrastructure needs to be simple and intuitive. Navigation  structure also needs to be clear, especially if the firm is using multiple places for the co-creation activity. Moreover, It is recommended that the IQ must incorporate behavioral activities that are resembling real-world activities for participants to easily understand the whole process.

Fourth experience is hedonic.  This is often seen as the source of pleasure and enjoyment. Nurturing playfulness is often associated with creativity and thus generate new ideas.  It can be done by incorporating game mechanics and playful elements. Furthermore, the inclusion of challenging tasks will drive participations from competitive and curious people from which interesting ideas might be born.

Lastly, collaborative experience encourages participants to co-create the co-creation system themselves. With that said, participants are granted with high degree of freedom to adjust the environment (together with other participants) where they will be co-creating.

 

References

Kohler, T., Fueller, J., Matzler, K., & Stieger, D. (2011).” Co-creation in virtual worlds: the design of the user experience”. MIS quarterly35(3), 773-788.

Nambisan, S., and Baron, R. A.  (2007).  “Interactions in Virtual Customer Environments:  Implications for Product Support and Customer Relationship Management,” Journal of Interactive Marketing (21:2), pp. 42-62

Nambisan, S., and Baron, R. A.  (2009).  “Virtual Customer Environments:  Testing a Model of Voluntary Participation in Value Co-Creation Activities,” Journal of Product Innovation Management (26:4), pp. 388-406

Nambisan, S., and Nambisan, P. (2008).  “How to Profit from a Better ‘Virtual Customer Environment,’” MIT Sloan Management Review (49:3), pp. 53-61

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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