How the five senses shape our UX playbook.
Marc Lifshin, Founder and CEO of Core Spaces, shares his perspective on what drives great UX and how the five senses can be used as a flexible framework to enhance resident experiences.
The experience is everything.
Our brands are more than a name on a building or a logo on a t-shirt. It’s all the countless details we obsess over. It’s remembering a resident’s name. It’s having their favorite coffee ready to start their day. It’s taking care of that busted chair the minute we see it. It’s the sounds residents hear, the scents they smell, and the things they touch. It’s our people. It’s our culture. It’s everything we do.
Be like Banksy. See the details.
Banksy gets it. He notices the little details that most people miss. Then he turns them into something amazing. Authentic to himself. Impossible to ignore. For us that eye for detail means looking for the small things right in front of you that can be fixed, improved or elevated.
It’s a service-oriented, hospitality-driven mindset that’s embodied by jumping on anything that needs attention. It could be straightening up a common area or cleaning the entrance threshold. Saying hello to a resident or making sure the music is right.
It comes down to keeping your eyes open for ways to make residents feel like they’re living in the best apartment on campus. Like a top hotel experience—think Ritz Carlton, just more hip. By acting on those moments we create experiences that residents love.
Nail the essentials.
Every detail matters, but there are some that have to be perfect.
- The approach.
- The lobby.
- The senses.
Getting these experiences right isn’t easy because every property is a unique and dynamic environment. In those conditions, team members have to understand our UX vision and feel empowered to bring it to life in ways that work best for their community.
The approach: Be oh so irresistible.
Think about your last vacation. When you stood outside that Airbnb or resort for the first time, you knew in a split second if you were going to like it or not. And you were probably right.
Residents do the same thing. They walk up to our buildings, take it all in and make up their minds in the blink of an eye. It’s our job to make them believe—before they even step inside—that they’re in for something special.
Landscaping should be on point. Windows should be clean. Litter shouldn’t be a thing. The door threshold should be shining and the carpets spotless. We’re talking immaculately pristine, x100. That’s how we show people that we play on a different level, the second they set eyes on us.
The lobby: Seal the deal.
If the approach hooks residents, the lobby lands them. Literally thousands of creative hours go into the design of our lobbies. They are our signature spaces and they set the tone for our brand. Walking into one should be a jaw-dropping moment.
The lobby is also our chance to create relationships and a sense of community. This is where a hospitality-driven mindset really comes into play. Find opportunities to personally connect with residents and learn about their lives. Look for ways to go above and beyond, and surprise them with your thoughtfulness. More than anything else, that’s what they’ll remember.
The senses: Amp up the feels.
Dictating what to do or say in every space across our portfolio isn’t going to work. You need to flex and react based on what’s happening at your unique location. The five senses are a great framework to help team members tune in to the right things. They’ll help staff build empathy for what residents are experiencing and find ways to keep our UX top notch.
Sight: Just right light.
Ever eaten at a restaurant with bright fluorescent lights beaming down on you? Yeah, it’s not great. Really kills the mood.
The same thing goes for us. If the lighting is even a little off it can impact the feel of an entire space. So keep a sharp eye on the lumens and light temperature of our lightbulbs. When a light goes out, make sure you match the new bulb to the space (instead of mixing dim and bright, or cool and warm) so residents see us at our best.*
Sound: Tailor-made music.
When’s the last time you were in a cool space with music playing that just didn’t fit? Yacht rock in the gym? Nope. EDM in the spa? Maybe, but usually nope.
We partnered with DJ Whiteshadow to craft the music our residents hear. It’s curated by area of the building—lobby, gym, spa, etc. If something doesn’t sound on point, we turn to DJWS to help fix it.
Touch: Eat-off-it clean.
This one is a universal, 100% bulletproof, might-as-well-be-math, fact. Touching something dirty is a bad experience.
That’s why we’re obsessive about keeping things clean and neat. We want to give our residents spaces where the 5-second rule could easily be the 5-minute rule. Our staff is always on the lookout for things that can be straightened up or wiped down. It’s a front-and-center way to show residents that they’re living somewhere special.
Smell: Vanilla-bourbon ftw.
You don’t need to be told that bad smells are no good for UX. We’ve elevated those tablestakes by actually developing a signature brand scent.
Our common areas have a delightful vanilla-bourbon scent, and our fitness spaces feature a refreshing eucalyptus mint. They’re pleasant enough to be noticed, but not overwhelming. They connect with people on a visceral level and improve the impression we make 24-7.
Taste: Yums make chums.
Ok, most folks aren’t actually going to taste our spaces. Not literally, at least. But we do have plenty of ways to make great tastes part of our UX.
We host WOW fridges in our model units that are filled with cold drinks, fresh food, and frozen snacks. We make sure they’re fully stocked and plenty tempting. Our Lifestyle team hosts meals with awesome food provided by local restaurants. And most importantly, we lean into our hospitality-mindset by looking for ways to surprise residents with a delicious treat.
It starts with people.
The final thing to take to heart is how important people are in elevating UX. Cool design will always be a big part of our brands. But more than anything else, our people represent what we stand for. The experiences our teams create every day are what define us and why residents love to live with us.
We bet on our people to think outside the box when it comes to taking care of our residents. If there are different strategies that work better for their unique communities, they’re empowered to go after them. Even if they get it wrong, we’ll never fault them for trying to make us better. We count on them to nail the human moments—day in and day out—that make our communities amazing places to live.