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Sainsbury’s Experience Design
Stories from the Experience Design Team at Sainsbury’s
A pink sticky note with the words “Run a usability test” written on it.
A pink sticky note with the words “Run a usability test” written on it.
Photo by David Travis on Unsplash

During the months of May and June 2020, my brother Sam and I were lucky enough to have a work placement with the Experience Design Team at Sainsbury’s.

Meet our team of skilled crafts people, inclusively designing better experience for all

Black and white photograph of Sophie Harper, Experience Designer
Black and white photograph of Sophie Harper, Experience Designer
Sophie Harper, Experience Designer

1. Can you tell us a little bit about what you do?

I work as an Experience Designer in ‘Fulfilment’ in the ‘Buy and Checkout’ team and our aim is to improve the experience for the customer from placing an order online, to receiving their delivery to their door. The work includes looking at how colleagues in store pick up online orders and improving the routes our delivery drivers take to allow us to offer more online slots for our customers. This area is still fairly new to the Experience Design Team (XD), which means there is a huge opportunity to improve the experience for our customers and colleagues.

2. How is Sainsbury’s different than you assumed it was going to be?

I was amazed…

What 4 months of being a Design Manager has taught me

How I felt 4 months ago…

Where to start? 🧐 Well, for some context I’ve spent the last 10 years of my career being a ‘maker’, designing experiences and products for customers in the media, marketing, charity, food and e-commerce sectors. I started out as a UI designer, before moving into UX, followed by Product Design and then Experience Design… many different job titles but all with one thing in common…. I made ‘stuff’. That was my sole purpose. Being an IC (Individual Contributor) meant I’d spend a large portion of my day sat in front of my iMac designing interfaces in Figma, S̵k̵e̵t̵c̵h̵, A̵x̵u̵r̵e̵, O̵m̵n̵i̵g̵r̵a̵f̵f̵l̵e̵…

It’s that time again! The Sainsbury’s Experience Design team quarterly playlist has landed and is here to kick off your spring.

At the end of last year, we all came together to celebrate and reflect on a very crazy year. Some of the highlights of 2020 included; onboarding almost 30 new starters, whilst having several teammates celebrate their 5 year anniversaries at Sainsbury’s. Congrats! We seamlessly made the switch over to Figma, released our Luna Design System UI kits and a new research hub! Along with shipping many products and features to help feed the nation. All of this was a testament in allowing us to continue to collaborate on award-winning products and outcomes to make our customers’ lives easier.


When I joined Sainsbury’s last year, UX writing wasn’t really given that much attention. The words used in digital experiences were written by different people, from designers to engineers, at different times, in different ways, without any centralised guidance.

So sometimes the language was a little confusing. Sometimes it wasn’t consistent from one screen to the next. Sometimes it was robotic when it should have been conversational, excited when it should have been calm.

And this isn’t exactly a rare thing. In fact, lots of design teams never work with UX writers when building their products.

But a good understanding…

I should start by saying that this wasn’t my idea, and I did in-fact steal it from a good friend I used to work with at Deliveroo (don’t worry, he knows). He’s already written an article about this very topic, which will no doubt be better than mine, but this idea works so well I thought “why not write about the success I’ve had with it as well?!” So without further ado, here goes…

As a new manager of a rather large design team (17, soon to be 19 people!), my main goal is to ensure my team have what…

At Argos you can pay for things in many ways, including using Argos’s credit products. We have two options at the moment: “Normal credit” (AKA Argos Card) and “Buy Now Pay Later” (AKA “Payment Plans”).

When explaining these, our compliance team need to avoid anything that might lead to misunderstandings — and being sanctioned by the regulator! And from a UX point of view, we’d like to make sure that any wording is both clear and as close to our tone of voice guidelines as possible.

Man typing at computer
Man typing at computer

So I decided to try writing a description of our two credit products using…

My career path has not been a conventional one. I’ve never been one of those fortunate people who has always known what they have wanted to do, if those people do indeed exist. I’m currently an experience designer at Sainsbury’s. In my first few months I have worked on solving complex problems through conducting research, establishing viable ideas and improving the understanding of how experience design can bring business value. Starting my new role in lockdown has had some challenges but I’ve benefitted from entering a strong team with a clear and defined purpose. I’ve always been fascinated by fixing…

In previous roles I’ve been lucky enough to spend a fair bit of time in usability labs, peering at users through covert one-way glass.

Watching real people use your product in real time, in the real world, is eye opening (really). But as a UX writer, I always found myself grappling with the same issues, namely:

Copy changes a lot. And quickly, as projects evolve. Testing sessions weren’t happening fast enough to keep up.

It’s tricky to focus on copy. I wasn’t moderating the sessions myself. …

How the SmartShop team used research to build a customer centric experience

When I joined the SmartShop team in June 2019 as a Senior Experience Designer, it had been a little over a year since the BBC had run an article about the cutting-edge technology of the Sainsbury’s SmartShop app and its mobile pay journey. “Till-free!” the article headlines gushed — at first glance, I wasn’t exactly sure what I could contribute. The app had a significant amount of research performed in the years prior, and the SmartShop team were a pretty versatile and progressive bunch.

Researcher Mara Protano (Evidenza Ltd) helping us develop themes from a million post it notes…

So…what was the problem…

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