Making configuring a laptop simpler with innovative controls and filtering

Project: Sony Vaio Laptop Selector
Client: Sony/iris Digital
Designer: Ryan Younger
Year: 2008

CHALLENGE: Simplify the information architecture of Sony’s laptop selector to move away from long lists of technical items and offer a more intuitive and enjoyable user experience.

RESULT: A simplified laptop selector which still offers the same amount of laptop selections but centred on the lifestyle and requirements of the end user not lists of technical items.


Sony wanted to move away from the design approach most laptop configurators used at the time, which involved long lists of options predicated upon a degree of technical knowledge. These laptop configurators, such as Dell’s for example, had dozens and dozens of expanding options without any real explanation of the tangible benefit to the end user. Sony had identified that their Vaio laptop customers were more concerned with where and how they would user their laptop as well as the size of their screen.

Figure 1 – Entry points

It was identified that the site should have two channels which overlap – online and in-store, these channels were mapped out in the entry points diagram shown in figure 1. Sony envisioned that a user could configure a laptop online and then recall the details on a kiosk in-store or conversely they could start an order in-store and complete it there; or they could recall the details at home and complete the purchase online. This was an innovative approach at the time when many major retailers did not have online reservation services and in-store kiosks.

Figure 2 – Wireframe of one of the online configurator screens

Analsysing Sony’s audience demographics through the use of personas as well as their channel approach strategy allowed an analysis of potential deisgn approaches and key content requirements. Initial designs were iterated through hallway-intercept usability testing and modified to address any areas where research identified usability issues. One of the final wireframes is shown in figure 2.