Become one with the user.
I began the UX design by interviewing stakeholders and customers. This process is key, because these are the people who hold all the answers and it's my job to ask the right questions. I found through the interviews that quality products, sold at low prices were top priorities for Wilderness Exchange. Customers also appreciated that in-store experts knew and used the product too.
Sorting out the wild.
Organizing the outdoor, clothing, climbing, hiking, skiing, and camping gear proved to be very difficult. My team went though a few failures because many of the merchandise items were hard to capture in a title...
Do you know what a Neve Strap Crampon is?
My solution was to create a sampling of the merchandise by making individual pictures with a brief description for users to categorize as they saw fit. Once major patterns appeared, I created a Closed Card Sort and all the merchandise items were consistently categorized by users.
Design. Iterate. Repeat.
Design is the process that I feel most comfortable with. I thrive in the messy rounds of drawings trying to solve the visual and navigational puzzles of a user and their tasks.
My UX goal is to guide a user through a design anticipating their needs and wants while completing a task.
Drawing Wilderness Exchange retail pages allowed me to quickly identify a solution for the arrangements of filters and departments. I found the sooner I could get user feedback, the better my solutions became and the quicker my solutions took shape.
Usability Testing has become my new favorite design tool. I can now see the strengths and weaknesses of my design through a fresh set of unbiased eyes that are only focused on getting their task or needs done.
My Wilderness Exchange Usability Testing highlighted the need for more information during the checkout process. It took a few users more than a moment to identity a multistep process I put in place. Just by adding numbered steps to the collapsing forms, users understood what was asked of them.
Can't argue with quantitative data.
Asking users to quantify their interactive experience makes the unconscious process so conscious. This forces the user to truly analyze their experience. Honest, fresh feedback allows me an opportunity to create better solutions and gives me leveraging data when I present my designs to stakeholders.
My Takeaway and Reflection
My big takeaway from this project was the power of “good“ Usability Testing and the many shapes it can take. I learned that “good” testing is the ugly, quick, wireframe drawings I presented to a few colleagues for layout feedback. This quick feedback helped me develop a better design solution for my medium-fidelity wireframes, which I used in an InVision clickable prototype for the next round of Usability Testing.
Good Usability Testing is also the more formal, user interaction with a clickable prototype that pulls quantitative data to identify the pain points of my design solution. I believe all the feedback I can get from other designers or potential users at every stage of a design makes the overall solution more complete. Such a powerful tool.
As I reflect on my previous Art Director experience, I wonder why this process was never utilized? The shared attitude was that only the Marketers, Designers and Clients knew the target market (or user) so we alone had the keys to make solutions. I still believe that as a designer, my creative contribution is imperative because I can present the future or the non-existing but to have a user prove it is the next important, tangible step. One exception comes to mind; My favorite Art Director project involved making users part of the design concept. I’m convinced the user interaction was the reason this campaign was so successful.
Together my team tackled the Stakeholder and Customer interviews, gathered a sampling list of 100 retail items then outlined the primary and secondary personas for each of us to process individually. My team members were Anna Borg, Sam Brumenschenkel, Allie Williams and Kirsten Lubkert.