Behind the scenes at Ocado Technology

A first reveal of the amazing UX work at Ocado Technology

Ocado Technology is now entering a very important phase of our journey as the world’s largest online-only grocery retailer: delivering the Ocado Smart Platforms to our retail clients around the world. For those who don’t know, the Ocado Smart Platform (OSP) is our end-to-end solution designed to power all aspects of an online grocery retail business (find out more here).

Ocado Technology spent years designing the OSP systems and software required to keep our highly automated process running smoothly. Providing OSP as a service for leading international retailers means we have to maintain impeccably high standards, focussing a lot of our attention on user experience (UX) — simplicity and ease of use, efficiency and minimising any room for error. As a member of our growing, mighty UX team, this means I find myself regularly working closely with all aspects of the technology and engineering efforts, and use all the tools to hand to craft the best possible experience.

UX spans the entire business, meaning no two days are ever the same, and we have no set ‘formulas’ in place. We have to be quick to adapt and keen to innovate. Creativity is at our core and ultimately it’s a fascinating sector of the business to work in. I am therefore writing this blog to provide an insight into what it’s like to be a part of the UX team here at Ocado Technology.

Discovery

Initially we embark on a phase of discovery. When considering a new feature we do everything we can to learn as much as possible about it. This doesn’t mean we just read the paperwork and jump straight to making suggestions. We keenly observe various situations and ask for detailed feedback from the users themselves, allowing us to truly build up a picture of the product in its entirety.

In some situations we will orchestrate a role play. We find role playing great to check we didn’t forget to consider anything about the experience. Its especially important for tasks that require using physical objects and an interface on a device at once.

We talk to participants in workshops and gather their feedback and thoughts.

Analysis

We put our methodical hat on, and critically evaluate if feedback is valuable and reliable. We collect and format the findings to see if there are any patterns.

Key for great UX is involving others. It generates more ideas and boost diversity.

The ‘a-ha!’ moment

Those are the best. We have identified an issue, or even better, the cause of a problem.

Empathy is a big thing in our pod and you will hear this word often. Commonly UX designers empathise with the users of the tool they design, but for us empathy is much more. We practice empathy towards all of our peers. One of our favourite tools is using an empathy map. We use them internally and with clients, to better explain the end user’s mindset.

We draw optional flows to discuss with others. What if we did it this way or another? Typically there is more than one GOOD way to do something, and we consider the implication of the ideas, polish and debate till they are great.

Good ideas will become pixel perfect designs, carefully crafted using our internal design system.

Then what?

A designer will not rest once feature is fully crafted and realised. There are usability sessions to run and feedback to gather. And start a new cycle of creative process with the findings.

The UX team have a key role in shaping OSP so it has a seamless experience. What to join us? Check out latest jobs here.