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If You Build it (Right) They Will Come

by Josh Tyson
3 min read
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Results of the Consumer Product category of the Design for Experience awards prove that successful design is all about balance.

Consumer products sure aren’t what they used to be. Stereo systems with more knobs than a submarine dashboard and a two-pound manual, blenders with 30 different speed buttons, impossible-to-program VCRs—these are relics from an age when it was less about the consumer more about the product.

These days, for a product to stand a chance in an overcrowded marketplace, it needs to serve a distinct need and serve that need in a way that rewards consumers.

As winner of the Design for Experience award for Consumer Product, Lumosity showed how they create products that do more than reward users—their offerings enhance their users lives in a ways that are enjoyable and engaging. A suite of brain games that can be played on virtually any device, Lumosity lets users improve their cognitive abilities by following a regimen that’s tailored for each individual.

At the root of their success: neuroscience research. Their team has taken scientific tasks out of the lab and turned them into games that users play for 15 minutes a day, a few days a week, sharpening their melons. Although prototyping began in 2005 Lumosity didn’t launch as a consumer service until 2007.

“The initial two years of prototyping were essential because not only were we creating the foundation for a new science-based product, but we were also defining a new industry,” says Melissa Malski, a Public Relations Specialist at Lumosity.

“Those two years of R&D led to promising results, a better understanding of the appeal of cognitive training and our demographics, and the discovery of Lumosity’s potential to be used as a research tool to conduct experiments online, more efficiently, and on a larger scale.”

Lumosity’s approach serves as a great reminder that successful products are not overnight wins but the culmination of years of work, research, and ideation. In a culture where so many companies are focused squarely on getting an MVP out the door so that they can chart how it fares with real users, this might seem like an outsider approach, but it has served their product well.

@Lumosity’s approach serves as a great reminder that successful products are not overnight wins

“The first version of Lumosity that was developed in the two-year prototyping phase looks very different from what Lumosity is today, and we’ve iterated on it over the past decade,” Malski says “Lumosity has roots in science, and takes a data-driven, scientific approach to product design and development, and we continually test and iterate on new games and new experiences. However, Lumosity is different from many other tech products because it is based in neuroscience, and the process of taking findings from neuroscience labs and turning them into engaging games takes time to develop and test.”

As the technologies surrounding neuroscience and digital products continue to boom, Lumosity is refining their product to keep up. They recently added a “Labs” tab to their dashboard that serves as a sandbox for users and developers to try out and test new, early stage features, games, and experiences.

“As part of the ‘Labs’ section, we recently launched an integration with FitBit that allows users to track their physical activity alongside their Lumosity training and learn how they relate,” Malski says. “The wearable technology space has grown and evolved dramatically over the last several years, and we’ve long been interested in understanding how to use the data gleaned from these advances in science and technology to drive more meaningful insights. We’re excited about this latest feature and will build on these findings for new product growth and development.”

In the age of the truly consumer product, keeping pace with users is just as important as keeping pace with the evolving technology that allows products to become more sophisticated—creating the kind of balance that has allowed Lumosity to succeed.


The 2014 DfE awards are now accepting applications. If you’ve been a part of creating an experience that makes a difference, apply today. The final deadline for applications is February 28, but if you apply on or before February 14th, you can still take advantage of an early application discount.

If you know of any products or services that deserve DfE recognition, make a recommendation now using the form in the right-hand sidebar (or at the bottom of the page if you’re on a mobile device). For a limited time, anyone who makes a valid recommendation will get a free book download form our sponsor, Rosenfeld Media.

post authorJosh Tyson

Josh Tyson, Josh Tyson is the co-author of the first bestselling book about conversational AI, Age of Invisible Machines. He is also the Director of Creative Content at OneReach.ai and co-host of both the Invisible Machines and N9K podcasts. His writing has appeared in numerous publications over the years, including Chicago Reader, Fast Company, FLAUNT, The New York Times, Observer, SLAP, Stop Smiling, Thrasher, and Westword. 


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