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User Experience Design With Augmented Reality (AR)

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The paper examines the influence of augmented reality (AR) technology on the user experience, comparing the IKEA Place AR App with the IKEA website. The International Organization for Standardization (2010) defines user experience as a “person's perceptions and responses resulting from the use and/or anticipated use of a product, system or service” and thus describes a person’s quantification of satisfaction with a company’s digital touchpoint. AR is a technology that overlays information or interactive elements on top of the user’s physical environment. The technology is increasingly being used in an economic context and changes the user’s brand experience, as we demonstrate in our IKEA research case. User experiences at digital touchpoints are a decisive success criterion for brands like IKEA, due to their influence on the image of the company and its products. IKEA, therefore, focuses on touchpoint innovations such as the IKEA Place AR App. Taking this development into account, the research question of our study was: “How does the user experience differ when using an AR App as a substitute for the use of a web application?” To answer this question, we conducted experimental A/B testing with two groups of 28 persons each: one group used an AR touchpoint (IKEA Place App) to make product decisions and the other group used a conventional touchpoint (IKEA website) for the same task. After testing, the participants' user experience with the respective touchpoint was recorded using the User Experience Questionnaire (UEQ) (Laugwitz, Held and Schrepp, 2008; Schrepp, Hinderks and Thomaschewski, 2017). Results showed that the innovative IKEA Place App touchpoint could deliver a better user experience than the IKEA website. The App scored stronger in the user experience dimensions “Stimulation” and “Novelty”. The results illustrate the importance of innovative digital touchpoints and reflect practical recommendations for their design and thus to improve the brand experience of companies.
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User Experience Design with Augmented Reality (AR)
Stefan Stumpp, Tobias Knopf and Daniel Michelis
Anhalt University of Applied Sciences, Bernburg, Germany
stefan.stumpp@hs-anhalt.de
tobias.knopf@hs-anhalt.de
daniel.Michelis@hs-anhalt.de
10.34190/ECIE.19.019
Abstract: The paper examines the influence of augmented reality (AR) technology on the user experience, comparing the
IKEA Place AR App with the IKEA website. The International Organization for Standardization (2010) defines user
experience as a “person's perceptions and responses resulting from the use and/or anticipated use of a product, system or
service” and thus describes a person’s quantification of satisfaction with a company’s digital touchpoint. AR is a technology
that overlays information or interactive elements on top of the user’s physical environment. The technology is increasingly
being used in an economic context and changes the user’s brand experience, as we demonstrate in our IKEA research case.
User experiences at digital touchpoints are a decisive success criterion for brands like IKEA, due to their influence on the
image of the company and its products. IKEA, therefore, focuses on touchpoint innovations such as the IKEA Place AR App.
Taking this development into account, the research question of our study was: “How does the user experience differ when
using an AR App as a substitute for the use of a web application?” To answer this question, we conducted experimental
A/B testing with two groups of 28 persons each: one group used an AR touchpoint (IKEA Place App) to make product
decisions and the other group used a conventional touchpoint (IKEA website) for the same task. After testing, the
participants' user experience with the respective touchpoint was recorded using the User Experience Questionnaire (UEQ)
(Laugwitz, Held and Schrepp, 2008; Schrepp, Hinderks and Thomaschewski, 2017). Results showed that the innovative IKEA
Place App touchpoint could deliver a better user experience than the IKEA website. The App scored stronger in the user
experience dimensions “Stimulation” and “Novelty”. The results illustrate the importance of innovative digital touchpoints
and reflect practical recommendations for their design and thus to improve the brand experience of companies.
Keywords: Augmented Reality, User Experience, Brand Touchpoints, IKEA
1. Introduction and Motivation
The digitization of society provides new opportunities and challenges for brand management (Mauroner and
Best, 2016). The design of user experiences at innovative brand touchpoints thus plays a central role in the
brand strategy of companies (Rauschnabel, Felix and Hinsch, 2019). New technologies that use virtual reality or
augmented reality (AR) create new ways for brands to allow contact with consumers. Whether AR games such
as Nintendo's Pokémon GO (Butcher and Raynes-Goldie, 2018; Zsila et al, 2018; Rauschnabel, Rossmann and
Tom Dieck, 2017), drive assistance by Jaguar or a magic mirror by Uniqlo that combines AR and gesture
interfaces (Cacho-Elizondo et al, 2018, p. 100) – brand leaders have recognized the potential and are trying to
integrate the new technologies into their brand strategy.
A pioneer in the integration of innovative brand touchpoints is the multinational furnishing company IKEA. The
brand is experimenting with virtual reality kitchen (IKEA Communications AB 2016) and a virtual reality
showroom in the IKEA furniture store Berlin-Lichtenberg (Demodern, 2016). In the field of AR, the brand is
offering the IKEA Place App. With this application, furniture from the IKEA catalogue can be freely placed at
home on the customers’ smartphone or tablet (Inter IKEA Systems B.V., 2017).
Efforts by corporate brands like IKEA, which offer consumers new and innovative brand touchpoints, are
relevant, if there is an impact on the brand and the company's success. However, the question arises whether
innovative brand touchpoints can create a better user experience, which will then have an influence on the
perception of the brand by potential consumers. Even with proof of this influence, companies face the
challenge of innovating and adapting touchpoints in line with the brand. This research is building on existing
scientific literature to evaluate user experiences at brand touchpoints. Primarily, work exists here under the
term “user experience” (cf. among others Hassenzahl and Tractinsky, 2006). The combination of both topics is
becoming increasingly important (Scholz and Duffy, 2018; Gonzalez et al, 2016, p. 112). It has been observed in
the study of Modak and Sinha (2019) that with the use of AR marketers are able to better demonstrate the
product and consumers are able to evaluate the product better.
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Figure 1: Instructions for the IKEA Place App (Screenshot from Inter IKEA Systems B.V., 2017)
It is the aim of this paper to evaluate whether innovative brand touchpoints can improve user experience using
the innovative AR IKEA Place App. Furthermore, the purpose of this work is to establish a research design that
can be a basis for a more extensive investigation of the research object, and to gain insights that justify a more
intensive analysis of the topic.
In the first part of this paper, the theoretical framework is presented. Relevant theoretical constructs and the
presentation of connections to the topics AR, brand touchpoints and user experiences are presented. The
empirical part provides information about the derivation of the case study approach. First, hypotheses are
derived from the theoretical considerations and the objectives of the work. These are used to model the
empirical investigation. Next, the User Experience Questionnaire (UEQ) is used to answer the derived
hypotheses. The results obtained are then presented, evaluated and interpreted. Finally, the results achieved
are summarised, implications for research and practice are derived and proposals for ongoing research are
given.
2. Theoretical Background and Hypothesis development
2.1 Augmented Reality
In their Reality-Virtuality (RV) Continuum Milgram and Kishino (1994) define Mixed Reality as a mixture of the
real and virtual world represented on a display. In the context of Mixed Reality, they refer to AR “any case in
which an otherwise real environment is augmented by means of virtual (computer graphic) objects”. Azuma
(1997) takes up these remarks and defines them more comprehensively: “Augmented Reality (AR) is a
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variation of Virtual Environments (VE), or Virtual Reality as it is more commonly called. VE technologies
completely immerse a user inside a synthetic environment. While immersed, the user cannot see the real
world around him. In contrast, AR allows the user to see the real world, with virtual objects superimposed
upon or composited with the real world” (Azuma 1997, p. 2). Four years later, Azuma (2001, p. 34) stated that
AR “combines real and virtual objects in a real environment; runs interactively, and in real time; and registers
(aligns) real and virtual objects with each other”. This is a widely accepted definition which is also used in
current papers (Javornik, 2016, p. 5). Billinghurst, Clark and Lee (2015, p. 84) recommend considering
taxonomies such as Milgram’s Mixed Reality continuum to fully understand the potential of AR in the broader
context.
2.2 Evaluation of brand touchpoints based on user experience
Brand touchpoints are potential points of contact between a brand and its potential customers (Meyer and
Schwager, 2007; Baxendale, Macdonald and Wilson, 2015). Interactions between customers and brands take
place here. The coordination of touchpoints is essential to create a consistent brand experience (“Seamless
experience” Shankar et al, 2011, p. 33). The brand experience is therefore here reduced to the individual
touchpoints at which the user experience of the touchpoint should be congruent with the brand experience
(Gonzalez et al, 2016, Spies, 2015, p. 66; van de Sand, 2017, p. 15). User experience is a “person's perceptions
and responses resulting from the use and/or anticipated use of a product, system or service” (International
Organization for Standardization, 2010). User experience thus describes the perceptions and reactions of a
person before, during and after the use of a (digital) touchpoint. In this context, the evaluation of user
experience with a brand touchpoint takes place during use through usability evaluation. Usability is defined by
ISO 9241-11 as the “extent to which a system, product or service can be used by specified users to achieve
specified goals with effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction in a specified context of use” (International
Organization for Standardization, 2018). In order to be able to evaluate individual touchpoints, a usability
evaluation is necessary. When analysing the experience with a touchpoint in a larger context, a measurement
of the user experience is necessary (Hassenzahl and Tractinsky, 2006; Bevan, 2008). By measuring usability or
user experience, it can be deduced whether touchpoints correspond to the usage needs of potential
customers. This also makes it possible to compare touchpoints (Laugwitz, Held and Schrepp, 2008).
3. Research Methodology
This study is based on a research design that combines both qualitative and quantitative research methods.
The combination of qualitative and quantitative approaches of data collection is also known as mixed methods
or multi-method approach (Schreier and Odag, 2010).
The UEQ by Laugwitz, Held and Schrepp (2008) enables the analysis of the entire user experience beyond mere
usability. The questionnaire takes into account the feelings, impressions and attitudes of the respondents and
creates a format that supports the direct expression of these elements. The scales collect usability aspects
(Efficiency, Perspicuity and Dependability) and user experience aspects (Stimulation, Novelty) and thus offer a
comprehensive impression of the user experience of brand touchpoints (Schrepp, Hinderks and
Thomaschewski, 2017). The UEQ consists of 6 scales. Attractiveness reflects the overall impression of the
product and shows whether users like the product. Efficiency shows whether users can solve their tasks
without unnecessary effort. Perspicuity indicates whether it is easy to become familiar with the product, i.e.
whether it is easy to learn how to use it. Dependability shows whether users can feel control over the
interaction. Stimulation shows whether it is exciting and motivating to use the product. Novelty indicates
whether the product is innovative and creative and whether the product catches the user's interest.
Attractiveness is a pure liability dimension. Efficiency, Perspicuity and Dependability are aspects of pragmatic
quality, while Stimulation and Novelty are aspects of hedonic quality (Laugwitz, Held and Schrepp 2008).
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Figure 2: Assumed scale structure of the UEQ (Schrepp, Hinderks and Thomaschewski, 2017)
As figure 2 shows, Laugwitz, Held and Schrepp (2008) evaluate user experience with the dimensions
“Attractiveness” (DV1), “Efficiency” (DV2), “Perspicuity” (DV3), “Dependability” (DV4), “Stimulation” (DV5) and
“Novelty” (DV6), which are represented by a total of 26 characteristics. The dimensions correspond to the
dependent variables which are influenced by the available touchpoint (IV1). In this case, these touchpoints are
the IKEA Place App and the IKEA website. The indicators for the dependent variables, i.e. the corresponding
dimensions or their characteristics, are given by the evaluation of the user in a semantic differential from -3 to
+3. The independent variable, the available touchpoint, is provided to the test persons and can assume the
nominal scaled values “IKEA Place App” and “IKEA Website”. Table 1 provides an overview of these
considerations.
This research assumes that the user experience will be improved by using the IKEA Place App. The following
hypothesis is therefore applied:
Measured mean value of user experience scores higher with the IKEA Place App than with the IKEA Website.
This hypothesis must be specified regarding the user experience dimensions in order to determine the
influence of the individual dimensions. The resulting hypotheses for the respective dimensions are shown in
table 2.
Table 1: Indicator, Manipulator and measurement level (User Experience)
Dependent variable
Indicator
Measurement level
DV1
Attractiveness
Evaluation of the touchpoint
regarding
the corresponding
dimension
Ordinal scale, symmetric differential
from
-3 to +3
DV2
Efficiency
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DV3
Perspicuity
DV4
Dependability
DV5
Stimulation
DV6
Novelty
Independent variable
Measurement level
IV1
Touchpoint
Choice of touchpoint
Nominal scale, values: “IKEA Place App”
and “IKEA Website”.
Table 2: User Experience Hypotheses
Hypotheses
H1
Measured mean value for Attractiveness scores higher with the IKEA Place App than with the IKEA website.
H2
Measured mean value for Efficiency scores higher with the IKEA Place App than with the IKEA website.
H3
Measured mean value for Perspicuity scores higher with the IKEA Place App than with the IKEA website.
H4
Measured mean value for Dependability scores higher with the IKEA Place App than with the IKEA website.
H5
Measured mean value for Stimulation scores higher with the IKEA Place App than with the IKEA website.
H6
Measured mean value for Novelty scores higher with the IKEA Place App than with the IKEA website.
For the experiment an A/B-Testing approach was used. The sample consists of 56 randomly selected students.
In groups of four participants each, the test persons were asked to plan the furnishing of a room with four
items from IKEA's product portfolio. The corresponding products were to be selected and placed imaginarily in
the room. Group A had access to the IKEA Place AR App, which represents the innovative brand touchpoint.
Group B accomplished the same task with the IKEA website. The sample of the IKEA Place App (Group A)
consists of 42.9 percent female and 57.1 percent male participants, the sample of the IKEA Website (Group B)
consists of 32.1 percent female and 67.9 percent male participants. The average age is 20.6 years for users of
Group A and 21.1 years for users of Group B. Both groups were asked to visualize their product decisions on a
flipchart. The four objects to be placed were always a couch, an armchair, a table and a floor lamp. There were
no monetary limits. The decision-making process for the selection of objects and their placement could be
discussed together in the group. The decision for a product and its location was ultimately taken by only one
participant at a time, whereby each one could take one product. This ensured that each participant came into
direct contact with the touchpoint and their user experience could be determined. There was no time limit for
the experiment and no external help for using the touchpoints.
An online survey questionnaire was conducted after the experiment to collect the information needed to proof
the hypotheses. The user experiences with the digital brand touchpoints IKEA Place App and the IKEA website
were determined by the UEQ. In addition, the respondents had the opportunity to comment on three open-
ended questions in their own words about what they liked most and least about the applications and which
features they thought were missing. These questions are intended to create a deeper understanding of the
test persons' user experience, which may not be reflected by the UEQ.
4. Results and findings
The participants were asked to rate their familiarity with the IKEA brand on a 7-point Likert scale from 1 (not at
all familiar) to 7 (very familiar). None of the subjects gave a rating lower than 3, with an average of 5,57.
Therefore, it can be assumed that the subjects are familiar with the brand. The respondents were also asked
about their purchase intensity of IKEA products. No respondent stated that they had never purchased from
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IKEA. 57 percent of the respondents are regular IKEA customers who buy IKEA products at least once every six
months. Test persons were randomly selected and therefore could not volunteer for the survey due to their
possible IKEA affinity. 11% of the PLACE App group participants had already used the PLACE AR app before the
experiment. 71% of the participants of the Web App group had already used the website before the
experiment. As there is a notable difference in application knowledge (as seen in figure 3), it should be
mentioned, that this could have an impact on measured user experience.
Figure 3: IKEA brand touchpoints used before the experiment
The user experience evaluation results of both touchpoints are shown in table 3. The table shows the mean
values of the user experience dimensions recorded by the interviewees about the use of the IKEA Place App
and the IKEA website. The IKEA Place App scores higher in every dimension but for Perspicuity and
Dependability due to higher mean values.
Table 3: Comparison of Scale Means, standard deviations and confidence intervals
Scale
IKEA Place App
IKEA Website
Mean
STD
N
Confi-
dence
Confidence
Interval
Mean
STD
N
Confi-
dence
Confidence
Interval
Attractiveness
1.88
0.75
28
0.28
1.60
2.16
1.79
0.70
28
0.26
1.53
2.04
Perspicuity
1.85
0.79
28
0.29
1.55
2.14
1.93
0.89
28
0.33
1.60
2.26
Efficiency
1.40
0.90
28
0.33
1.07
1.73
1.34
0.72
28
0.27
1.07
1.61
Dependability
1.36
0.67
28
0.25
1.11
1.61
1.65
0.61
28
0.23
1.42
1.88
Stimulation
1.89
0.79
28
0.29
1.60
2.19
1.07
0.99
28
0.37
0.70
1.44
Novelty
1.92
0.87
28
0.32
1.60
2.24
0.69
1.30
28
0.48
0.20
1.17
To verify the significance of these results, a Two Sample T-Test assuming unequal variances was carried out.
Since a normal distribution cannot be assumed with 100 percent certainty, a Mann-Withney-U-Test was also
carried out (see table 4). This is a nonparametric test that compares two groups even without the assumption
of normally distributed data (VassarStats.net, n.d.). The IKEA Place App performs significantly (with both tests)
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better in the dimensions of Stimulation and Novelty. This significance is also given by taking into account the
Bonferroni correction, a mathematical statistical method that helps to neutralize alpha error cumulation in
multiple comparisons.
Table 4: Two sample T-test and Mann-Whitney-U-Test
Scale
Two sample T-Test
assuming unequal
variances
Mann-Whitney-U-Test
Significant
Difference
Alpha level 0,05
UA
z
P(1)
P(2)
Attractiveness
0.6236
356
0,58
0,2810
0,5619
No
Perspicuity
0.7228
431
-0,63
0,2643
0,5287
No
Efficiency
0.7748
360
0,52
0,3015
0,6031
No
Dependability
0.0923
484
-1,50
0,0668
0,1336
No
Stimulation
0.0012
203
3,09
0,0010
0,0020
Yes
Novelty
0.0001
165
3,70
0,0001
0,0002
Yes
With reference to the hypotheses formulated in table 2, it can be stated that hypotheses 5 (Stimulation) and 6
(Novelty) are verified while hypotheses 1 to 4 are not. The dimension Stimulation describes whether a user
perceives an application as exciting, motivating and interesting. Novelty, on the other hand, describes the
degree of innovation and creativity of the application. It can therefore be assumed that the users surveyed in
this study rate the IKEA Place App as more exciting, interesting and motivating than the website. In addition,
the new application is perceived as more innovative and creative. Furthermore, we can assume that these
perceptions also have a direct effect on the perception of the brand. Rauschnabel, Felix and Hinsch (2019, p.
49) also come to similar conclusions that hedonic benefits lead to a change in the brand attitude when using
AR.
In open-ended questions, the respondents were given the opportunity to comment on what they liked most
and least about the application and what they thought was missing. The IKEA Place App testers particularly
praised the novelty of this approach. Some test persons were surprised how realistic the virtual objects in the
room looked. The test persons were thrilled “how fast and easy it is to learn the application and plan the room
before buying”. Some respondents also critically mentioned that the control system was a little difficult to
operate at first, but after those first difficulties the app was very well received. Some test persons also
criticized the placement as being too sensitive or for furniture being placed too close together at the
beginning. A few test persons also had problems quickly finding the desired object in the furniture categories.
From the points of criticism, the test persons accordingly noticed what they lacked in the application. Some
test persons would have liked instructions, easier handling and a catalogue overview. During the placement
process, a few respondents would have liked to receive a (coloured) indication if objects did fit.
The IKEA website has been praised for its good structure and clarity, which provides quick access to a lot of
product information. The inspiring ideas and the wide range of products were also praised. However, the
clarity of the website seems to be questioned by other test persons. For example, some respondent said that
they found the clarity poor, that it was not so easy to find some things and that the site was “somewhat
overloaded”. Test persons also perceived some products in the wrong category. In the end, some respondents
found the page to be “a bit too monotonous”, some respondents whished for clearer pages, better filtered
categories and more colour variety. It is noteworthy that some test persons stated that they would like 3D
models showing how individual or several pieces of furniture would look in the room. Exactly these wishes are
served with the IKEA Place App, which was available to the other group. Some of those test persons did not
report any experience with the IKEA Place App.
In the following the observations, which became apparent during the experiment, are described. The test
persons gave the impression of having fun with their task. The IKEA Place App test persons showed a high
dynamic right from the start of the experiment. They took the tablet and went directly to the room area to be
decorated, gathered around the tablet and experimented with the app. However, some users were afraid at
first when they were asked to place an object. At first, the respondents to the website were less dynamic. At
the beginning of the experiment, they sat on their chairs in a circle and thought about how to proceed. On the
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Stefan Stumpp, Tobias Knopf and Daniel Michelis
other hand, the individual test persons were less afraid of the tablet when selecting their objects on the
website. The existing knowledge about the website minimized the learning effort for most people to complete
the task. The test persons of the IKEA Place App left a very satisfied impression after the successful placement
of their object. In the groups, opinion leaders crystallized, but their influence was limited by the group
instruction that everyone should choose and place one item. The test persons who had the website at their
disposal to complete the task were also showed the IKEA Place App after they took the survey. Although they
described their experience with the website as positive, their enthusiasm for the IKEA Place App was
noticeable. They may have been able to better appreciate the benefits of the IKEA Place App based on their
experience with the website.
5. Limitations and Future work
The results of this study reflect the findings of a literature search, an A/B experiment and a quantitative online
survey. The methodological diversity made it possible to obtain different qualitative and quantitative findings,
but it is a specific challenge to link these results stringently.
A limitation of the present study arises from the fact that only a small number of test persons were used for
the experiment and that they were composed exclusively of students, which resulted in a sample selection of
users between the ages of 18-30. For further studies it is therefore conceivable to increase the number of
participants and their diversity. Also, the study considers the respondents' brand knowledge, but not their
technological knowledge. It would therefore be of interest to take this into account and compare it with the
available results. Furthermore, we have conducted a case study on IKEA and our empirical findings are related
to one specific company context. Therefore, a transfer of the study to other industries and fields of application
would be of interest.
The research area dealing with AR technology and its impact on brand user experience is still young and offers
room for further research. The predicted growth of the AR industry (IDC, 2018) requires a better
understanding of the impact this technology will have. Our recommendations for future research include
additional studies addressing customer receptiveness towards AR.
6. Summary and conclusion
The results presented are of both practical and theoretical relevance. The study provides empirical support for
measuring the impact of AR applications on user brand experience. Furthermore, the mixed methods approach
contributes to a deeper understanding about AR technology. There are indications that the use of innovative
touchpoints has a positive influence on the dimensions of Stimulation and Novelty of the user experience.
AR technology has the potential to fundamentally change the retail industry (Spreer and Kallweit , 2014). It
offers the opportunity to improve our perception and enrich our environment (Van Krevelen and Poelman,
2007). However, the finding that not all dimensions were rated equally well in comparison to website use is an
indication that there is still potential for optimisation in the application. In sum, IKEA Place App today do not
seem to influence the customers in the best possible way. In order to further improve AR experience with the
IKEA Place App, it is suggested that IKEA should find a balance between different dimensions of the user
experience by also improving the dimensions Attractiveness, Perspicuity, Efficiency and Dependability of the
application. While the results for this study are particularly connected to IKEA Place and the IKEA website, the
findings could also be of interest to companies that are also planning to implement AR technologies to
improve brand user experience.
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