Printful: Simplifying the adding products process for frequent users — A UX Case Study

Printful is an easy print-on-demand drop shipping and fulfillment warehouse service created to help starting entrepreneurs quickly integrate and sell products without the need of keeping inventory, or if they do have inventory, have no need to rent a large space to keep it.

Being a user of the service, I have run into some pains with their process of adding new products. I’m especially frustrated when editing existing products, and adding multiple products quickly (there is no option for that).

THE PROCESS

The process I used for this case study, was a Hybrid Agile process, based on the UX Process learned from my online mentors, Lead UX designer Mike Locke (see his Youtube channel), and UX consultant/speaker Sarah Doody (see her Youtube channel):

1. UX RESEARCH

So my first question to this problem was: Do the users even care? Or is this an issue that only I care about? I started my research to find out.

The first idea was to find users who use the service on a regular Basis to create personas and conduct a small survey to identify if my assumptions of designing a better solution for adding products was valid.

I found that there are a lot of blog reviews and video reviews of the service, especially on their Facebook page, where users can talk to Printul directly.

What I liked the most about their Facebook page was finding the Rating/Reviews section. The reviews gave me sufficient data of users who recommend the service, users who dislike the service, and users who use it on a regular basis.

Printful’s Facebook page

Based on my experience in using the service, and my online research, I created these 2 personas for this case study:

With the personas created and my online research, I created this survey to confirm if the problem of adding multiple products is universal for frequent users — And asked them what were their pain points when using Printful’s service.

2. DEFINING THE PROBLEM

Based on the feedback of 7 users who did the survey, there were 3 main pain points I identified from their feedback:

  1. The process of adding a single product takes too long
  2. The process of editing a product is very confusing
  3. No option to view or add products through the mobile app

With these pain points and the feedback as the focus, I could finally make some educated decisions for USER STORIES. Here are the main 5 I decided to tackle:

3. IDEATING SOLUTIONS(VISUAL DESIGN)

Easily my favorite part of the process, coming from a background in visual storytelling, and sketching ideas for comics and animation; I sketched 2 storyboards based on the User Stories and Personas:

Now with a clear idea of what features to work on, and to whom I’m doing them for, I created 3 KEY TASKS:

  1. Add more than 1 Product at a time through the website
  2. Duplicate an existing product, and update/edit the product on a single page
  3. Quickly add a product using the mobile app with Dropbox integration

With all these elements in place, now it is time to start my 5 days DESIGN SPRINT!

THE SPRINT

In order to keep it simple, I did a small, physical Agile board using paper and some post-its of the tasks I had to work on to finish this project in the 5 days I allocated for myself:

I started by creating a moodboard by researching similar key tasks already made by competitors like Printify & Etsy.

Then I checked for inspiration on Information Architecture to find solutions for the user stories using google image search and gathered screenshots of the existing process on Printful’s website and mobile app.

Moodboard

With that done, now is the time to create some TASK FLOWS with Wireframe sketches:

With these done, instead of going to more detailed wireframes of the task flows, I decided to jump straight to Sketch and create high fidelity mockups by using screenshots of the website and building from there, since Printful already has a very distinct style guide and look. After all, the goal is to have these features added without fully modifying the already easy to use experience.

Adding more than one product at a time workflow

ORIGINAL PROCESS OF ADDING A PRODUCT:

NEW PROCESS OF ADDING/DUPLICATING & EDITING A PRODUCT:

Duplicating & editing an existing product as a single page workflow
New Stores section & adding a product through the mobile app workflow

4. PROTOTYPING & REFINING

From there I went to prototyping these solutions. I tested the prototypes with 3 of the users I interviewed, and based on their feedback, this was the final iteration of the prototypes:

Outcome & Lessons

UX designers know that the whole process can be a messy one, and this one was no different.

Much of the process listed here did not occur in this neat and organized timeline, rather it was the afterthought of documenting how the whole process occurred.

The Storyboard part, for example, occurred much later as I was designing the Hi-fi mockups. When I was deep into the visual UI design, I went into perfectionist mode and wanted to recreate every single element of the website instead of just creating the new essential assets and have reference screenshots fill the rest. I wasted a lot of time in the beginning because of this, so if I had done the Storyboarding earlier in the process, I would’ve had a much clearer idea and would have focused more on the end goal, instead of focusing on details that are not important for the completion of the project. The 5-day sprint turn into a 7-day sprint due to this. Lesson learned!

I am also much more appreciative of anybody who takes their time to do an online survey out of their busy lives. Out of 55 people I sent this survey to, only 7 actually took the survey, and 3 replied me back on Facebook. So a special THANK YOU to all of you who took this survey and made this article possible. I really appreciate it!

I am sure this study can be further tested and iterated to be even better, but I’m proud enough to call this done for now. I’m happy to have gone through the whole journey and it definitely made me a better designer. UX can definitely be messy and full of trial and errors, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.