Social commerce app with smart sharing features and ready-to-sell online store.
My roles: UX Design, User Research, Design Manager, Facilitator
Date: Spring - Summer 2017
How often do you remember where and from whom you bought the t-shirt you're wearing or the kitchen utensils you use to eat your meals? Given that more and more of us are living in big cities and shopping at online marketplaces, the relationship between buyer and seller is increasingly rare.
Lua is a social commerce platform that empowers independent merchants to sell items to their extended social network, restoring the shopping experience to a time when it was more human and personal. As Lua’s UX designer, my first big challenge has been a major update to the mobile app, a new software built from scratch and internally named Lua 2.0.
Mapping the context
When I joined the team, I first worked on locating the roadblocks and points of difficulties faced by the users along their flows of interaction with the 1.0 version of the app. Although users were downloading it, most were not fully experiencing the main features for sharing products. We looked to the conversion funnel to verify and locate the roadblocks, then started investigating the reasons why the users were not completing the app's basic tasks.
I launched field research to investigate how regular sellers were already solving their issues in their own way. For this research I invited and trained members of the customer care team to help do the contextual interviews. We visited six self-employed sellers to listen to their stories and observe their way of doing things.
The final result of this collaborative work was an experience map that outlined the struggles of our target customers. These visits were essential, not only to better understand our target users, but also to see the touch points where Lua could add more value to their selling journey.
Combining the qualitative data from the experience map and the quantitative data of the 1.0 app's usage, I presented a design brief for a new version of the app, dubbed 2.0. The design brief offered a new direction, and illustrated where the team should direct its focus. The brief worked as a framework that I used to craft a roadmap of design sprints and to communicate with the development team and stakeholders.
Following the agenda outlined in the brief, I started working on lo-fidelity prototypes of the app's most important screens. The idea was to draft the navigation and make sense of the information architecture. I ran tests internally with other employees that helped me identify gaps that I had initially overlooked. The results of these tests also encouraged me to revisit ideas previously generated by the team.
For some of the design sprints, I invited a more diverse group of people to work together from different areas of the company so we could discuss the possible solutions from different perspectives before deciding which one to prototype and test. Acting as a facilitator, I ran one to two week sprints mixing designers with developers and product and sales representatives. The directors of marketing, finance, and technology acted as experts, and the CEO, the decider.
As the design team worked on hi-fidelity screens, we ran scripted tests with external guests. During the tests, the guests had to perform specific tasks on our prototype. Once again, while I interviewed them, I learned more about the challenges and uncertainties of our users, discovering more about their personal stories. Other employees watched the tests in a second room, taking notes and marking comments. All of that informed our design decisions and strengthened my negotiations with stakeholders.
During the final weeks of design, I managed a team of three designers in an intense work schedule to put all of the pieces together and delivered a full prototype and a PDF with the specs. Once the development team took over, I acted as the interim PO, helping them to navigate the documentation around the user journeys, interactions, animations, and the overall architecture.
Hi-fi prototype: exploring different sections
Hi-fi prototype: onboarding
Empathy for the users is the main pillar of user centric design, but if you don't communicate effectively with stakeholders, all of the knowledge gained from the design process might never find its way to the users´ hands. Developing empathy for the stakeholders and my work colleagues was my greatest achievement on this project. I had to learn how to articulate design decisions for non-designers, and how to be resilient. I was open to other´s suggestions about technical constraints, and I became extremely didactic in my reports and on articulating the logic behind each proposed design. In the end, directors from other areas and the CEO developed trust in the design team, and they adopted a more user-backed decision-making process.
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