Encouraging User Engagement on the Gwynnie Bee Closet
The challenge you asked me to take on: Driving more member engagement with the virtual closet experience.
From your brief: "The closet home section is among the most visited sections of the site. Members let us know they are returning apparel, give us feedback on items and can view their apparel selections as well. We believe there is more opportunity to drive apparel discovery, increase the volume of items in the virtual closet and generally drive member engagement from this section (all of these behaviors correlate to member retention). "
How would you approach a re-imagined closet experience?
When given a problem to solve without user research or feedback, I typically start with a heuristic evaluation, approaching the site experience as a new user. I try to put myself in the user's shoes and run through a set of tasks I assume the user would set out to accomplish. Throughout this process, I search for competitor sites and compare how other designers have solved observed design challenges. Also, what additional features and tools other companies have developed that make for an outstanding user experience.
This gives me a baseline to begin user research, starting with what questions to ask, what types of methodologies to use and what stimuli to create. It also helps to discover the most obvious usability problems that may be easy to address without feedback from users.
A heuristic evaluation also helps me to imagine a vision of what the most innovative and satisfying user experience could be. For Gwynnie Bee I would recommend a highly personalized, user-centric experience. Where there are no barriers to adding items to one's closet and when a customer gets their box, the garments look amazing on them. They are truly satisfied and happy. Customers are so addicted to using Gwynnie Bee that they no longer have to go shopping, in stores.
What information would you seek?
To create an optimal user experience that meets business needs, I would need to fully understand the business model of Gwynnie Bee. At what point does the operational model make the most money? The experience design can encourage usage that matches that breaking point, so 80% of your user's behavior match the model. I would not create an optimal user experience that conflicts with business needs.
Who are your stakeholders, what does the leadership team look like and how are decisions made?
What is the development platform? How easy is it to add features, tools and change content? How are goals created for the site, how are they measured? How is site usage and traffic monitored and analyzed? What kind of budget allowance is available to make changes if they need to be made? Do you currently use an agile process?
User needs? How much research has been done so far? What are the gaps and how can we efficiently move forward to fill those gaps? What tools are already in place? Can we add tools if needed? And what is the budget specifically for user testing and research?
What does the existing design & UX team look like? How big is the team? Do you have a full-time staff or only use freelancers? What are their skill-sets and how do they perform?
What does your existing design & build process look like?
How big is your editorial staff and what does your current publishing process look like?
What have been the challenges so far that prevented GB from having an amazing user experience?
How would you structure a process?
I would start with a discovery process, the questions above are a good example of where to begin. Stakeholder interviews first, if you do not have a user panel, I would start recruiting members. I would request access to site traffic data & analytics. Discovery helps to create a vision for the website and help prioritize what changes to make going forward. This process should take between 2 weeks to a month to complete.
Let's imagine that a highly personalized user experience is the right model for Gwynnie Bee, based on the discovery. I could create a proposal that argues personalization is the best way to provide recommendations for users, and that this capability will increase customer satisfaction and engagement and grow profits. I would hope to gain company-wide alignment and backing if needed. (The discovery could find that a different approach is necessary, and that would be the lead if so.)
The proposal could include the results from user research & stakeholder interviews. A description of simple to robust implementations of personalization over time. Cost estimates & analysis, effort forecasts, estimated growth of customer engagement & profits and a high level plan and schedule and the resources needed. This document would require the collaboration of several stakeholders in the company. Once approved, I'd deliver the following:
- High-level design (see an example of my wireframes for Decoded here, and sitemap example for Lattice Strategies here)
- Detailed design - comps
- User research (depending on what we need to learn, this could be concept testing new functionality or protoyping new designs)
- Implementation documentation
- User research (after the build, test to see how we met user's needs so we can optimize or pivot)
- Methods for Tracking & Optimization
To see an example of my process documentation go to the Verizon Wireless Case Study
What ideas do you have?
Here are some general changes I'd like to make to the site overall:
- More editorial content throughout the site.
- Simplify site categories and navigation.
- Improve navigation font treatment.
- Change photography treatment.
- "Add to Closet" buttons on results page (adding a garment without choosing a size.)
- Clarify the copy for the Size Advisor.
- Make sure the search tool works when the user is logged in
For the Virtual Closet
I would like the experience of adding items to a user's closet be simple, seamless and fun. One way to accomplish this is to provide meaningful garment recommendations, which would reduce the number of options and show women the best clothes for their body-type and style. This could be done by asking users fill out a simple profile that includes their measurements and body-type. This information is cross-referenced with the existing user reviews and the expertise of your style experts. I think the user reviews are very important and should get more prominence on the detail or garment page. It should be easier to access user reviews on the results page and in the Virtual Closet to help prioritize items.
It would be amazing if the site could recommend a size based on your profile and you could make adjustments if needed in the Virtual Closet.
I would reward sharing, and writing reviews, this would help encourage more reviews and get more users to the site.