There has been a huge movement towards customer co-creation in the digital 2.0 sphere - Polyvore, Zazzle, NIKEID are the ones that most of us are familiar with. Letting the customer take centre stage in the design process is an interesting concept. But what are the results? As the average customer is probably not a designer themselves - do we end up with mediocrity? Or is beauty in the eye of the beholder? I prefer the tactic of assisted co-creation - the best sites allow a good balance between artistic suggestions and the desire to exercise our inner creativity. One of the best new examples I've seen so far is from Shoes of Prey - an incredible design it yourself shoes company. Unlike similar custom shoe sites, these shoes are high end and clearly made well, follow trends closely(they have an ankle boot and gladiator style), and have an excellent user interface. And although they are based in Australia (and from what I can tell - manufacture in China) - they understand the key to the success of any online retail outfit is fast, cheap logistics (15GBP flat to anywhere in the world!) and a top notch return policy (if it doesn't fit they will remake you another pair!).
A quick snapshot of their starting designs:
A few of the style suggestions I'm loving:
I'm just a few clicks away from ordering the gladiator in leopard calf hair!