The Quarantine is Exposing Gaps in Social Connectivity Products

With our new remote lives, we shouldn't have to repurpose business tools to stay personally connected

By Tatiana Chilcovsky, Sr. Experience Strategist, Code and Theory

So, you’re trapped at home. Me too. This actually isn’t my first time being stuck at home. Last year I had a back injury and worked from home for 3 months, so I’ve gotten used to it. With that said, there are so many people who live their lives with difficulty leaving the house. This isn’t a new circumstance, it’s just one that’s affecting able-bodied people for the first time en masse and in a major way. As we all turn to digital solutions to replace our close-proximity and shared space experiences, there are some large gaps in the market that are ripe for innovation. While some companies have already quickly adapted, there are still areas of opportunity within several lifestyle spaces.

Meeting Up

If you think about it, it’s kind of hilarious that we’re using enterprise B2B tools like Google Calendar and Zoom to hang out with our friends in our downtime. “Do you have a link to the call?” has become a common question I ask my friends and has revealed new facts about them, like how well they read their emails and meeting details (which, I never really needed to know). Simply put, we’re all using enterprise tools for personal activities.

IMG 6590

One app that has significantly risen in popularity during this time is Houseparty. The app allows people to create rooms for anyone to join, and takes a fluid, guard-down approach that makes the app more social than corporate. The games and integrations allow for a focal point in the experience, whether it’s trivia, a game or otherwise, which keeps it from being unintentionally chaotic.

Opportunity

While Houseparty is doing a great job allowing people to host digital events, there are so many other parts of meeting up with friends that could use a pivot from corporate to social: like sending a calendar invitation to a scheduled event, or streaming a live audiovisual event like a DJ set. I never thought I’d say the sentence “Charlie XCX did a DJ set on a Zoom meeting,” and I hope that’s not the backup plan for Coachella.

Hanging Out

Beyond initially meeting up and seeing each other, there are lots of elements of hanging out with friends that have been difficult to replicate online. I, for one, love to host game nights at my apartment — playing games like Carcassonne, Settlers of Cattan, and Poker, as well as online games like Quiplash.

When I set out to host my first digital game night I was shocked to find out how few online games allow for invite-only rooms and relaxed gameplay. I had to sneak into the gamers’ circles of Code and Theory’s Slack channels for someone to finally recommend Tabletop Simulator. This paid Steam app gives users digital controls over decks and dice, and is built open-source so the community can contribute to it through “workshops.” I was able to find nearly every game I was looking for, and my friends and I played a great game of Code Names. However, Tabletop Simulator is far from a sophisticated product and is fairly hidden by being on Steam.

Screen Shot 2020 04 06 at 5 18 11 PM

Source: Netflixparty.com

You see this with watch parties, as well. I love having a few friends over to watch a movie, and this is an experience that people have missed throughout the quarantine. This has led to the heightened popularity of Netflix Party, a chrome extension that allows users to livestream Netflix through a browser while chatting with friends, making sure everyone stays in sync with the same playback

Opportunity

There are so many moments we spend with our friends and family centered around digital spaces like watching TV and playing video games, and there is a huge opportunity to have these digitally-centered moments rely less on gathering in-person. While Netflix Party or games like Quiplash are digitally-enabling, their formats don't match the typical user flow of how a group of people gather around a digital experience. While there is current innovation in the space, it’s important to think really tactically about what devices people will be using and how that will pair with a social experience as well. Marrying the social, digital product, and the device in the right way to create remote social experiences is both a big opportunity and exciting challenge.

Staying In Shape

While the at-home workout industry has been around for decades, it’s now much more evolved than the Jane Fonda VHS tapes I used to do with my mom when I was a toddler. At-home fitness brands like Mirror and Peloton with digitally-enabled and metric-based hardware allow both class participation and two-way communication with instructors. While these are great, the high cost of buying single-purpose hardware (not to mention, where would you even put a Peloton bike in a New York City apartment?) is a high barrier to entry for the lay-user.

During these times of shelter-in-place, physical fitness providers have been turning to live-streaming their classes on IGTV, and while this is great at keeping a social following engaged and maintaining a brand presence, it feels less personal, and the accountability that you have when you’re physically in a room is very different than streaming through an app where you can drop off to send a text.

Opportunity

There is a need for distinctive and unique workouts that are made for at-home athletes that provide the feedback and accountability of showing up to SoulCycle without needing to buy an at-home gym. Nintendo released Ring Fit Adventure, their first workout game for the Switch, in October 2019, but it has been completely sold out everywhere since the pandemic broke out, and is now being marked up to 400% on eBay. The game is hugely successful as both a video game and a workout, which is exactly what we need from the fitness industry: products that feel like they’re made for a remote user — whether that’s the ability to share stats with a personal trainer while you work out “together,” or how to incorporate at-home supplies and furniture. Any new fitness product needs to understand the context in which it will be used — whether it’s on a TV screen in a living room, a personal training session at the gym, or a mobile phone in a park, the content and experience must be designed specifically for it.

Image 1 2x

Source: ringfitadventure.nintendo.com

Overall

There are so many industries prime for disruption and ready to be welcomed into peoples’ homes. In fact, the survival of many industries now depends on it. While it may seem that these products could be made and abandoned once there is a return to normalcy, there is always value in making more accessible products and there are always people who normally deal with shelter-in-place conditions outside of the pandemic. I can’t imagine we’ll get back to our “normal” lives without taking away some of the best of what we’ve learned, or even embracing how much fun we can have at home, together. There’s an untapped future industry in interconnectivity for social and lifestyle spaces, and I expect that it will grow, even after our social lives are restored.

Meta Image 1200x627
Amazon

Ads that work as hard as you do

Code and Theory developed the integrated, global campaign connecting Amazon Ads with small businesses everywhere.

Read More
  • Proved Amazon Ads are made to match the right person, with the right business, right away.
  • Doubled traffic to Amazon Ads' dot com destination.
  • Produced a global, integrated campaign in less than six months.
Social image 1
Sutter Health

Meet Scout: A Powerful Tool Building Resilience in Today's Youth

Scout is a mental health and resilience app making care and intervention more accessible for teens and young adults..

Read More
  • +40% Increase in reported user resiliency
  • Developed as a progressive web app for maximum accessibility across the socio-economic spectrum
  • 2024 Webby Winner in Apps & Software - Health, Wellness & Fitness
  • Code and Theory built, designed and launched Scout.

Driving B2B Growth

Partnering with some of the world's largest companies to fuel their business-to-business expansion.

Screen Shot 2023 03 01 at 11 14 04 AM
Marriott Bonvoy

Reimagining Marriott Bonvoy as a Hub for Travel and Commerce

Evolving Bonvoy’s design system to be more modern and immersive while staying true to the core strong brand identity.

Read More
  • Mobile-First
  • Contextualized Conversion
  • Flexible Design and Content Systems

Evolving E-commerce to Fit Modern Audiences

We are shaping the digital transformation of the industry by creating strong connections between audiences and brands.

Image 35
Polestar

Electric Driving For a Progressive Future

Designing and engineering a state-of-the-art web experience as impressive and exhilarating as the Polestar car itself.

Read More
  • Led design and product strategy for Polestar's web and mobile experiences
  • Developed an information architecture with no dead ends
  • Designed a flexible UI kit to unify every digital touchpoint
  • Fast Company Honoree for Retail and User Experience in Innovation by Design Awards

Leading With Empathy and Inclusivity

Having deeper conversations, widening the funnel, and driving innovation with an inclusive-first lens.

Black BoxBlack BoxBlack Box

Recognition

  • Code and Theory

    Ad Age A-List

    2024 Business Transformation Agency of the Year
  • YETI x Code and Theory

    Innovation by Design

    2023 Best in Marketing
  • Code and Theory

    Innovation by Design

    2023 Design Company of the Year
Albertsons 2x 1
Albertsons

Simplifying Grocery Shopping for Millions

Building and unifying the digital ecosystem for one of the largest food and drug retailers in the US.

Read More
  • Modernized the ecommerce experience
  • Created a scalable design system
  • Integrated 10+ disparate apps into one, reducing overhead
  • Launched in six months
Untitled design
Allspring

Speed to Market for a Portfolio Optimization Tool

Crafting a UI for a complex product through user input and clear data visualization.

Read More
  • Improving workflow processes through enhanced user interface design
  • Clear and simple data visualizations for complex data sets
  • Designing a roadmap to continue to iterate and optimize the product on a rolling basis post-launch

All Work

Tipico | Succeeding on a Mission to Win Ohio

Simpli.fi | Building a Brand for the Future of AdTech

Amazon | Amazon Ads: Ads that work as hard as you do

Equifax | Modernizing Equifax Canada’s Customer Tools

Comcast | Commercializing the Comcast Cybersecurity Experience

The Ritz-Carlton | Redefining the Legacy of Luxury for a Powerhouse in Hospitality

YETI | Map The Gaps - Taking Google Street View Way Off The Street

YETI | Year in Preview

Champion | Evolving an Iconic Brand for a New Generation

Albertsons | Simplifying Grocery Shopping For Millions

Electric Driving Built for a Progressive Future | Electric Driving Built for a Progressive Future

Harris Williams | Modernizing Harris Williams with a Future-Leaning Tech Stack

Allstate Protection Plans | Bringing SquareTrade Into The Allstate Family

TikTok | Building Confidence in TT4B Solutions

Marriott Bonvoy Leisure | Reimagining Marriott Bonvoy As A Hub For Travel Content And Commerce

Meta for Business | Creating Connective Tissue to Drive Engagement

Pfizer World | Shaping a Platform into a Beacon for New Priorities and Ways of Work

Allspring Remi Advisor Tools | Crafting a UI Through User Input and Clear Data Visualization

Citizens Bank | Driving Growth For a Storied Financial Institution

Galleri | Introducing a Revolutionary Medical Feat to the Market

Adidas | Engaging a Demographic With Digital Storytelling

The New School | Building Flexible, Data-Driven Pathways for an Academic Innovator

Citadel | Citadel & Citadel Securities Websites

KPMG | Reimagining KPMG US

Johnson & Johnson | Transforming a CPG Powerhouse Into an Inclusive Digital-First Marketer

Daymaker | A Platform Redesign That Supports Local Nonprofits in the U.S.

Bare Necessities | Redefining Fit

Kaplan | Transforming the Digital Ecosystem of a Major Education Provider

Pagaya | Empowering Financial Opportunity

1-800-FLOWERS | Celebrating Gifting With a One-Stop Shop

ConEd | Building A Future Vision For Clean Energy In New York

Party City | Turning a Brick-and-Mortar Mainstay Into an Online Phenom

KYLA Kombucha | Elevating A Beverage Brand's Positioning And Creative Strategy

Washington Football Team | Charting A New Path For An Iconic Institution

Legence | Designing the Digital Presence for a Formidable New Brand

Bustle Digital Group | Scary Mommy: Not Your Mom's Mag

Bustle Digital Group | Gawker | Don't Call It A Comeback

Amazon Ads | Making Amazon Essential for Every Ad Buy

H&M | Modernizing The Intersection Of Inspiration And E-commerce

College Board | Positioning College Board as an Integrated Partner for Students

The Commonwealth Fund | Rebuilding a 100-Year-Old Foundation for the Next Century

National Council on Aging (NCOA) | A Personalized Digital Experience For America's Older Adults

adidas Superstar | Change Is A Team Sport

adidas Running | Bringing In-The-Moment Running Experiences To Boost Product Discovery

adidas Originals James Harden | Launching The Next Chapter In Adidas Basketball

The Venetian | Redefining Luxury in Las Vegas

MetLife Investment Management | Introducing A New Platform For An Institutional Powerhouse

William Hill Estate | Putting Chardonnay On Trend

Nexstar Media Group | Helping 130+ Local News Stations Transition to Digital

Giffords | Launching A Powerful Resource To Spark Action On Gun Violence

PGIM | Unifying PGIM's Global Asset Management Network

Bustle Digital Group | Modern Storytelling For Bustle Digital Group

J.P. Morgan | The First End-To-End Digital Platform In Commercial Real Estate

Xerox | Making Now Work: A New Campaign For A New Time

Mailchimp | A Digital Platform For Emerging Writers And Creators

Sky Italia | A Modern Digital Experience For The Italian Media Platform

Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library | Defining The New Digital Museum Experience

Nylon | ReIntroducing An Iconic Publishing Brand

Mailchimp | Launching The New Digital Home For Tomorrow's Filmmakers

Input | A Brand New Destination About Technology In Our Lives

Morton Salt | Putting More Salt On US Tables

Cartier | Reimagining Cartier's Retail Experience

Sunbrella | Redefining The Digital Textile Space

Axe | An Iconic Men's Grooming Brand Known For Bold Marketing

CoinDesk | Relaunching A Pillar Of The Blockchain Community

Dignity Health | Delivering A Best-In-Class Digital Experience

NYCEDC | A New Hub For New Yorkers To Grow Their Business

Indigo AG | Adopting Regenerative Practices With The Terraton Initiative

TEGNA | Creating A Centralized CMS For 39 Local News Stations

The Jewish Museum | Bridging The Museum's Physical And Digital Experiences

Bustle Digital Group | Fatherly: From Dude to Dad

Rally | Elevating the Site Experience for a Crypto Pioneer

Bustle Digital Group | Mic – Stories That Fuel Curiosity, Creativity, and Change

CBRE | Building A Digital Infrastructure A Major Real-Estate Firm

Dean & Deluca | Connected Physical And Digital Gourmet Grocery Experiences

Vogue | A Fresh New Look for Vogue.com

SOM | Designing a Site For The Legacy of Architecture’s Most Prolific Firm

Xywav | A Flexible Component Library For The Jazz Brand

BioReference | Launching An On-Demand Healthcare Offering During A Pandemic

Says a Lot —

Latest

News — 

Code and Theory, a Stagwell (STGW) Network Company, Named Ad Age Business Transformation Agency of the Year

News — 

CampaignLive | Behavior as a prompt: Why AI’s ability to anticipate will change business forever

News — 

Code and Theory Wins Three Drum Awards For AI, Creativity, and UX with YETI and Tipico

News — 

Under Armour Launches UA Rewards with Masterclass-style Video Series, in Partnership with Code and Theory

News — 

Figma Names Code and Theory as Launch Partner in New Service Partner Program

News — 

Scout by Sutter Health™ Launches an App Focused on Resilience Building for Youth and their ‘Champions’, Built by Code and Theory

News — 

Code and Theory Network Wins Six W3 Awards

News — 

Facing the Future: A Guide to AI and Design Transformation

We Are a Technology-First Creative Agency

What We Do

Code and Theory is a strategically driven, digital-first agency that lives at the intersection of creativity and technology. We solve consumer and business problems with end-to-end solutions that flex to meet the needs of today’s ever-changing digital landscape.

Our Services

We provide a range of offerings built to support the entire ecosystem.

  • Data, Analytics and Research

    Our data-driven approach enables us to understand every aspect of end-to-end consumer journeys, and powers our work from start to finish.

  • Business & Organizational Consulting

    We work with our clients not only to define and deliver products, services and communications, but also to design the business itself.

  • Transformational Technology

    We help our clients reinvent their technical infrastructure and roadmap in order to deliver for the needs of today and tomorrow.

  • Services, Platforms & Products

    We create best-in-class platforms built around both the user and the business goals, often extending into connected physical expressions.

  • Integrated Marketing

    We deliver the right messages to new and existing customers across the entire ecosystem.

Our Offices

We have locations around the world.

Join Our Team

We're not typical, and neither are you. We're always looking to hire smart, interesting and forward-thinking people.
See All Open Positions

Code and Theory is a proud member of Stagwell Group. Stagwell is the challenger network built to transform marketing. We deliver scaled creative performance for the world’s most ambitious brands, connecting culture-moving creativity with leading-edge technology to harmonize the art and science of marketing. Led by entrepreneurs, our 13,000+ specialists in 34+ countries are unified under a single purpose: to drive effectiveness and improve business results for their clients. Join us at www.stagwellglobal.com