UX case study — Giving Edge Sport, the edge. (sorry)

This is a summary of my second project as part of the General Assembly UX immersive Course. Can you research, plan and create a user focused working prototype for an e-commerce site from scratch in 8 days?

What I set out to achieve:
To create the first working prototype for a desktop first e-commerce site, that allows customers to easily buy what they need, with confidence by highlighting the unique aspects of a small sports retailer, Edge Sports.

I wanted to create a unique online shopping experience that inspired people along the way to build trust in the brand and make Edge Sport their choice for quality sporting equipment.

Who are Edge Sport?
Edge Sport are an independent Sports retailer, selling a range of sporting goods. They have some key attributes that I kept in mind throughout the development of the website.

The site needs to support all these things that are fundamental to their business model and existing customers. How I could leverage these attributes to meet online customer needs was fundamental.

Lets meet the users.

We were given 3 personas that illustrate some of Edge Sports typical customers and potential customers, I supplemented this by interviewing people who met the same criteria. they are a diverse bunch but have some key attributes in common:
- All enjoy a more personal shopping experience (brands with a story)
- All like to support local business
- They all value information from experts and want to save time by knowing which product is the best for them
- They all value transparency and efficency

Time to checkout the competition
Next I wanted to have a look at the direct and indirect competition for Edge. This was two fold, to benchmark against how they are performing against what our users want and to spot opportunities for Edge to stand out from the crowd.

They all had some key features seen across e-commerce sites that help support the transactional aspect of the purchase which I knew would need to be incorporated into the Edge website, based on most up-to date best practise and tested with users such as visible shopping cart and account set up.

Other noteworthy trends included that sports specialist stores perform better in terms of offering the value added content our users said they would embrace. But they failed to integrate this online to directly help with purchasing decisions. Unlike in bricks and mortar stores where the ability to provide expert advices to customers is fundamental to the business model.

The opportunity begins to identify itself
Focusing on one of the personas and a potential customer journey highlighted where Edge Sports had an opportunity to create a website with features that meets customer needs in a way that isn’t currently being addressed anywhere else.

It’s in the research phase that the problem really starts. if you are not sure exactly what you need theres little support or guidance for making that purchasing decision. Heres the opportunity:

To offer online support and advice that stands out from the crowd and supports purchasing decisions

And in the meantime…….. Information Architecture.
Alongside identifying the needs of our users I was also working out about how to structure the content on the website, and how to categorise the list of 75 products we were given. I undertook several card sorting exercises that demonstrated a mixture of categorising items by either product or sport. This led me to decide to offer 2 ways into the primary navigation that supports this finding and also worked with the user flows, I created for all the personas.

Lets get creative
Working with my GA colleagues using the design studio method, I developed an idea to integrate into the website that could meet the need identified and improve the user journey for our persona Robert.
The interactive running check list is born. The idea is that people undertaking a long distance running event can find an interactive list of everything that they will need in the lead up, during and afterwards, check what they already have and purchase recommended products that they still need quickly and easily,

The site takes shape
Using all the insight generated the next step was to produce some paper prototypes to test with users before moving onto higher fidelity Omnigraffle versions and eventually an interactive prototype.

Users loved the concept of an interactive checklist that would make it easy for them to see exactly what they needed in preparation for a running event. They were curious about how exactly it would work and wanted to ensure that it:
- didn’t interfere with the overall shopping experience
- they could make quick a quick purchase 
- it would be easy to find, as it was not something they would expect to see, so would not be looking out for it.

Through testing with users I developed the optimal version of the homepage and site architecture to meet both their needs and the business objectives

Another key feature was a hub page for each sport catered for which offers a combination of relevant product purchase functionality and useful support and advice around relevant topics to mimic the more personal experience they would receive in store.

See the full version of my working prototype to date. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Whats next
My next steps are to carry out further testing and iterations of the cart process and consider how something like the interactive checklist, that supports purchasing decisions, could be developed for all sports categories.

I would advise looking at optimising for mobile and start to review the journeys for this.

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