I’m currently working on a couple of e-commerce projects here at Dock9 and when I saw that UX Crunch was organising an evening dedicated on the subject I was curious to see what precious tips I could learn from the giants.
The first speaker was Razel Villanueva, UX/Product Designer at Graze.com, (an online provider of healthy snacks) and she talked about how she used user research to improve the performance of their shop, particularly when users buy individual boxes versus subscription.
Graze.com was initially subscription-only. When they decided to sell individual boxes without the need for subscription, to cater for those users who did not wish to commit or wanted to spend less, they noticed the shop wasn’t performing very well. The two experiences were inconsistent due to siloed design teams, lack of communication and different platforms being used. Another issue they identified was with their ratings. They previously had a 5-point scale which the users could use even before trying the snacks, which wasn’t ideal.
Their process was one that is not unfamiliar to UX designers: research, ideation, review, iteration and build. They went on to conduct a competitor review looking at other rating systems such as Youtube, Facebook etc.
For the ideation phase they used a technique called crazy 8s, which I personally love, whereby a small group of stakeholders sketch eight ideas in a very short period of time. This process often creates a less obvious design solution. After selecting the most sensible and interesting ideas, it was time for usability testing, iteration and then build.
After this process they discovered a simpler rating system and with carefully designed copy performed better. Changing wordings such as “bin” to “I’m not interested in this snack” made the experience that much more pleasurable for the users.
She mentioned other issues they had to tackle such as separating ratings from reviews. But concluded with a quote from Leonardo da Vinci “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”
Next was Michael Zoidis and Ana Bernardo from Kurt Geiger.
Their talk was less about e-commerce UX design best practices and more about evangelising a user-centred design culture.
This issue might be familiar to any UX designer who was ever asked by someone in sales to design a poster for an event or was assigned to a project nicknamed “lipstick on a pig”.
They explained how they got tired of leaving polite notes on Jira and started to be more opinionated and of course, how using usability tests results completely changed how developers and stakeholders perceived their work. Soon, they started to be invited to more meetings with more important people who wanted to know what “Jenny from Liverpool” had said about their product that week.
Personally, the most interesting part of the event was the Q&A, when we had the chance to listen their unscripted answer to more practical challenges.
We learned that their favourite part of working with e-commerce were the products. The most annoying was platform limitations and other departments pushing unfriendly features. How to deal with them? Ask why they want it, said Ana Bernardo.
I asked what was the most underrated and overlooked design feature in an e-commerce. They all agreed that a good copy design was the winner. Thinking of those little messages in a more human-friendly way, even portraying some “product personality”, made a big difference. But it was pointed out that desktop and mobile experiences need to be considered, since on mobile people are less interested in a narrative and are more task-oriented.
Following that they were asked about some of their fail stories where designing an iPad prototype only in landscape mode was mentioned. The first thing the users did when handed the prototype was to change it to landscape mode, breaking the whole design. They had to go back to the drawing board on that one.
Finally, someone asked what they thought about machine learning used to personalise content, a controversial topic that made the audience move to the edge of their seats. They all agreed that it’s a scary trend but it could help with automation of segmentation of user groups.
Overall it was really interesting to look at UX from an e-commerce point of view for a change and it’s certainly given me some food for thought.;
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