One of my favorite UIs is the IKEA showrooms because of 1) its organization and 2) its interactive aspect. The IKEA showrooms are organized by room types (bedroom, living room, kitchen), rather than by furniture types (table, chair, bed). This style of display aligns well with customers’ decision making process of purchasing a furniture. The thought of “I need a dining table” derives from one’s need for a certain action, consumption of food. Because certain activities tend to occur in certain locations of the house, we almost intuitively categorize furniture by the location in which it will be utilized. The organization by room types at IKEA, thus, visually reduces customers’ effort to imagine themselves using the furniture and performing certain activities on/with it.
Another aspect of IKEA showrooms that many of us enjoy is the interactiveness. By enabling and encouraging interaction with its products, IKEA supports each customer’s different needs. For instance, a living room sofa may be used primarily for reading for some and watching TV for others. Depending on the main use of the furniture, one can try his/her reading posture (sitting up) while another can try a relaxing position(sitting back) on the couch. Also, many customers discover other possibilities they may not have pre-considered by seeing and putting themselves in an environment in which the products will reside. A simple example would be discovering a desire for a foot stool or a coffee table with storage space for board games.
The IKEA showrooms elegantly accommodate customers’ journey of furniture purchase from the motive for an activity, to learning/discovering, and to internalization of the furniture within their homes. Such displays benefits both the company by cost-effectively promoting its products and the customers by providing an enjoyable experience and low-cost furniture.