The assignment for this week is to propose a way to create “service envy” in the mobile applications developer space. How can we create service envy on the AT&T developer site?


Designing Interactions defines service envy as “enabl(ing) people to  express who they are through the use of the services instead of ownership of things.” (p. 423) The service (or product) needs to both function in the intended way as well as  confirm owners sense of value. Service envy turns a product into a lifestyle, a way to tell something about a person based on the products they use. Driving a Toyota Camry does not say much about a person; driving a Prius or a Hummer does.

DevCentral aims to be “your official resource for wireless development.” However, devCentral has evolved over several years through two mergers; their vision lacks breadth and the market is moving fast for them to keep up. Developers face challenges with fragmentation, merchandising, differentiation and bureaucracy. Apple and Verizon have emerged as clear competitors, with many others rising in the ranks. AT&T is currently redesigning devCentral to tackle these issues and more.

Rebranding is key. AT&T’s website is functional and simple but lacks character. It utilizes a fair amount of text but few images, with an annoying rotating feature.  It’s not sleek like Apple’s site or flashy like Verizon’s:


There is nothing distinct or interesting about devCentral in comparison. While some may connect with Apple’s zen-like minimalism or Verizon’s in-your-face futurism, no developer will actively identify with such a milquetoast service as devCentral without significant redesign. Colors, branding and design guidelines are great, but I propose that devCentral flesh out the site with actual personality. What sort of people do they hope to attract? Perhaps personas would help in this step. What would these people want to see? In addition, the developer does not really appear on the site. While ostensibly devCentral’s information is directed at them, it does not speak with them on the personal level. AT&T needs to better engage developers on the individual level for devCentral to create service envy.