I am writing this to show recent experience with a subject that I did cover in my degrees, but those where a very long time ago. This role required project management, SEO and QA concurrently to work on the UI.
High level process
- Define all changes as user stories, to pull the consumer into the picture.
- Define technical success metrics that are relevant to the user (e.g. display search results, but do so inside 2s). I was doing much more testing than previous developers.
- Build several Persona. Ban the word “user”. Emphasise at all points that most consumers will be casual users, with low commitment to the platform (even if they like the client venue).
- Think about the user journey, not just the website. Some interactions aren't on the website, but are still marketing presence for our clients.
- Walk through the platform and fix all the “drop down a big hole” end points. The consumer still exists after the transaction, and may wish to continue the relationship with the client if they have a good experience.
- Reduce consumers knowledge requirements, down to what most shops require.
- Got some new users to perform actions on the platform, I took notes about where it wasn't intuitive.
Requirements and observations
- With the marketing director, make “create account” a less obstructive action, that doesn't have to be done first. This moved the site closer to normal e-commerce.
- Make the UI less interrupting ~ e.g. message prompts ~ so casual consumers aren't nagged all the time.
- With the CEO design a landing page, so casual consumers can decide inside a few seconds if the platform is useful to them. See “information scent” 1 2
- Make outbound communications personalised and relevant, so users can use the email/SMS for any actions. I wrote all of this bit.
- Emphasing “casual user” again, make “magic links” for emails, embedding user session, so the email is useful, and doesn't require re-authentication.
- Push for RWD and mobile on main site. Over time organise rewriting most CSS in the whole platform. Before I joined there was an iphone app, but it wasn't nice UI, it was too slow and it covered few important user-stories.
- Completely redesign the wishlist interactions (in 2014, you need 5 touches to add a venue to your wishlist; after me 1 touch).
- Rebuild outbound links including social media, as many people will be going with friends and need to talk about it to them. Update list of social media to reflect current platforms.
- Completely rebuild venue filters to be dynamic, reflecting current data. This makes them much more useful for filtering. Due to staff holidays, I also wrote all of this JS.
- Completely redesign the “venue edit” features, and create a “create venue” feature. Create a user flow from the users perspective, rather than a set of disjoint pages. Unless cookies are wiped, most users will only need to login once.
- In a change involving everyone, rewrite image gallery UI. New UI is much easier to use.
- As part of a change to bring special offers into consumers decision making process; create a small interaction for “when would you like to book”, which lists available times and the available offers inline. Previously you had to know what existed before placing the order. I wrote the API and JS to drive this.
- With the CEO ~ a sales specialist ~ improve quality of inventory. I performed actions to fix missing or incomplete data, so a search result may be useful to the consumer. We deleted many items that are irrelevant data from our DB.
- Spend roughly a year replacing slow-code with faster-code. This is a purely technical change, but casual consumers are never going to wait 15s for a venue listing.