“Tell me more about your process”, is a popular question asked during interviews and I suppose any conversation with interested enough parties. I normally try and answer this without sounding as generic as the next guy, and most of the time just settle on one or two examples of previously done work. As the requirements for different projects are, well, different - so too is the process followed. Below is an example of my process for redesigning the marketing website at Wetu.
It started with a survey, which was put out a month or so before I joined, asking users what they thought of our products and services. Out of the 40 participants, a very high number came back with positive results, “We just love it!” But, this was not reflected in the amount of traffic we had to the site each month, and the very low conversion rate.
If everyone that users our products loves them, why are we struggling to get new customers?
The first version of the site was live for 7 years and was a ball of confusion for everyone that visited it. The biggest problem was, we had almost no signups to trials to the Itinerary software directly from the website. Users that did get onto a trial eventually, ended up on our contact page and just called our sales team to find out more. The rest of them - lost opportunities.
I would be the first designer of any kind to join the team, and because I wasn’t only there to make things pretty, but to get to understand our users and start to build products for and always with them in mind, I would need to shake things up a bit. Bring on my first challenge, which was getting stakeholders by-in to the idea of research with real users - the very job I was hired for.
Just to give you an indication of what went into the planning stages:
Discovering Wetus Goals
- Understanding the Purpose, Goals and Vision of the business;
Understanding the industry
- Research and discovery, competitor analysis;
Who are our customers?
- Using analytics and user insights from internal resources;
- Field Studies, surveys, interviews, articles written by experts;
- I interviewed 70% of the staff to get their understanding of who our customers are and since the travel industry is very much about who you know, they shed light on relationships they had with our clients.
In order for me to gain enough insight about each of the above points, I created a project plan, which I presented in the gantt chart below:
Two parts of the project that took the most time:
Provisional Persona Creation and Analysis takes about +- 3weeks
Create Personas (keeping company goals in mind)
Interviews (Internal experts)
Matched variables against spectra
Establish user goals
Create the personas
Visually represent and introduce to the staff
Storyboards (will use to help introduce the personas by scenario)
Information Architecture (Sitemap)
Content Planning (content matrix design)
Individual Ideation (keep in mind engagement tactics)
Group Ideation (Friday staff meeting)
Next phase: 2 weeks
Sketching both Mobile and Desktop (layout copy and other content)
Lo-fi Prototyping (test with users)
Walkthrough design concepts (factor in navigational demands)
Heuristic Evaluation (3 to 5 experts, questions, explanation for functions not present)
Approve Designs (stakeholders)
At the beginning of my UX journey, I found out about Cores and Paths, and since then I find its a great way to start any project, to get a clear idea of your core, and how users can navigate to and from it.
During the research phase I found that our biggest problem could simply be that we were not explaining our product clearly and simply enough to prospective customers. With this in mind, I ran a Group Ideation session with the entire staff to get their input on how we could better explain who were were and what we did to new users visiting our website.
Group Ideation PDF (example)
Along with the persona creation, the information gathered here made it crystal clear, we had two very different users that wanted and were looking out for different things. We were not only displaying one thing terribly, we were muddling information, and would help neither of our users.
During the Group Ideation session I also took time to introduce the team to the personas, and through scenarios and with some help from other team members, we began to build empathy for our users.
Next, I created a few mockups which I ran past stakeholders and then created working prototypes I tested with again, the entire staff, initially for usability but then had them act as a user in a a real life scenario.
After this valuable exercise, I ran a card sorting session with just 5 users and got enough of an idea to create our desired user flows and build our information architecture.
Taking into account everything I had learned up to this point, about the industry, our users and the experts in this field - I was able to put together a second iteration of slightly higher fidelity mockups, which I then tested with with real users.
What we discovered was that by splitting the homepage in two, left for “Operators” and right for “Suppliers” we were able to give them each their own entire experience. Building the site differently also allowed us to market those streams more effectively and allowed users to come through search engines or any other sources directly to a page designed just for them, sans confusing technical jargon and other fluff we promoted before.
The next step was to find 3 or 4 suitable engagement tactics (using psychology) to keep users interested.
After this, I had just less than 2 weeks to complete the hi-def designs for the new improved responsive Wetu marketing site.
After 3 months of checks and tweaks and constantly observing users interacting with the site, registrations for trials on the website went up 40% and sales reported that the users that had called to enquire were better informed about the products on offer than previously.
The stakeholders were very pleased with the results of the change and so we our users. I was happy my first project went better than I had expected, but more than users being able to register for trials directly from the marketing site, through this project I had gained the trust of my CEO, head of product and head of development and would have their backing/blessing to do more research projects. This helped me make more informed decisions across all future projects, from small quick-win features to larger core changing enhancements.
Please note that due to the sensitive nature of the documents, designs and procedures used during my time at Wetu, I have omitted certain artefacts. I think this gives a decent understanding of the process I followed and I would be more than willing to chat in more detail about this in person.