Scratching an itch

As this month draws to an end, so does my time at Wiggle.

Wills and I leading out a staff ride. Photo: Jack Chevell

Before I talk about what’s next, I want to pause and reflect briefly on a few of the many cool things that I’ve experienced working at the online tri-sports retailer.

But first, some background

I always wanted to work at Wiggle. Back in 2010, I was making videos for UK Cycling Events, who ran the Wiggle Super Series (a cycling event series in the UK). I was even featured in Cycling Weekly!

An unexpected bonus of the Wiggle Super Series of sportive bike rides has been the short videos made for each one by 26-year-old Southampton film maker Ross Chapman (ref).
Me, in 2010 filming one of the mountain bike events for Wiggle

After a few years of videos, I started to get involved in the digital marketing of the events, eventually redesigning the website within a few days (and at home over winter when the boiler was on the blink), and doing the email marketing design.

Note: I recently found a bunch of emails I sent to the design team at Wiggle at the time — so weird looking at them six years on!

The Wiggle brand introduced road cycling to me, something that I’m pretty passionate about now. Coming more from a mountain bike background, I loved the distance you could reach on road, but also, the physical exercise you put your body through. It was hard, rewarding and the community was warm and friendly.

So when the opportunity arose years later to join the Wiggle team at their headquarters in Portsmouth, it was a dream come true. I started telling people and they would say “looks like you’ve found the ultimate job!” I was scratching that itch.

What we achieved

Starting in October 2015, I was thrust straight into researching and wire framing Wiggle’s events calendar. With Black Friday and Christmas around the corner, assisting the rest of the design team served as a great introduction into Wiggle’s processes and the wider team dynamic.

I even helped out with a shoot for the Wiggle Essentials range.

Photo: Jack Chevell

In the New Year, Which? declared Wiggle as the top online sports retailer. After a few team changes, I found that my job description needed to evolve, so I started work on defining the strategy of user experience design at Wiggle in a document titled “Terms of Reference.”

I explain more of this in this talk, but the key points in the document were:

  1. Stronger design culture
  2. Lead, not follow
  3. Simpler, reusable design
  4. Test design ideas
  5. Remove poor performing features
  6. Measure the user experience
  7. Create feedback loops

With the strategy signed off by the powers that be, we kickstarted the UX design effort in a big way. We ran two-week sprints with daily stand-ups. Retrospectives made us think about what problems we were experiencing and we talked about what we could do to remedy them. We started doing regular remote usability testing and some in the field. We ran surveys and analysed heat maps on key areas of the site. We conducted deeper research to provide the business with best practice solutions. We were doing proper UX design work!

Jeff and Helen usability testing two different login screens with customers

I also worked on the mobile iOS and Android apps. We started bringing in iteration cycles within the existing waterfall process so that we could prototype, test the design with users and course-correct based on the feedback within the project. We were doing something up until then I had only read about. We were building, measuring and learning.

And to combat the inconsistency across many of our digital touch points with customers, we created a Design Manual. It’s now in its second edition and I hope it will be further iterated on after I leave.

There were only three of us in the UX and Front-end design team, and now there are six. The team is in a stronger position than when I started and nearly all new projects now are “UX-lead” — which is a quantum-leap from where we were nearly two years ago.

Identifying opportunities in the Wiggle website menu Photo: Penny Rance

The people at Wiggle are truly wonderful and I will very much miss working, riding and laughing with them as I move on to the next chapter.

What’s next for me?

For the past five years, I’ve cut my professional teeth working in the education, technology and eCommerce. It’s given me a real grasp of how large businesses function and should serve me well as I transition into my next role. Check back next week to learn more...

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