Social commerce app with smart sharing features, ready-to-sell online store and no initial investment.
How often do you remember where and from whom you bought the t-shirt you're wearing or the kitchen utensils you use to eat your meals? Given that more and more of us are living in big cities and shopping at online marketplaces, these relationships between buyer and seller are increasingly rare.
Lua is a social commerce platform that empowers independent merchants to sell items to their extended social network, restoring the shopping experience to a time when it was more human and personal. As Lua’s UX designer, my first big challenge was a major update to the mobile app, a new software built from scratch and internally named Lua 2.0.
When I joined the team, I first worked on defining the riskiest assumptions on the 1.0 version of the app. Although users were downloading it, most were not fully experiencing the main features for sharing products. We looked to the conversion funnel to verify and locate the roadblocks; then, started investigating the reasons why the users were not completing the app's basic tasks.
I launched a field research to investigate how regular sellers were already solving their issues in their own way. For this research I invited and trained members of the customer care team to help doing the contextual interviews. We visited six self-employed sellers to listen to their stories and observe their way of doing things.
The final result of this collaborative work was an experience map that outlined the struggles of our target customers .These visits were essential, not only to feel more empathy for our target user, but also to see the touch points where Lua could add more value.
Combining the qualitative data from the experience map and the quantitative data of the 1.0 app's usage I presented a design brief for a new version of the app, dubbed 2.0. The design brief offered a new direction, and illustrated, in a more generic fashion, where the team should direct their focus. The brief worked as a framework, which I used to craft a roadmap of design sprints and to communicate with the development team and stakeholders.
Following the agenda, I started working on lo-fi prototypes of the app's most important screens. The idea was to draft the navigation and make sense of the information architecture. I ran tests internally with other employees that helped me identify gaps that I had initially overlooked. The results of these tests also encouraged me revisit ideas previously generated by the team.
In some of the design sprints, I decided to invite a more diverse group of people to work together, from different areas of the company, so we could stretch the possible solutions before deciding which one to prototype and test. Acting as a facilitator I ran one or two week sprints mixing designers with developers, product and sales representatives. The directors of marketing, finance, and technology acted as experts, and the CEO, the decider.
As the design team worked on hi-fidelity screens, we ran scripted tests with external guests. During the tests, the guests had to perform specific tasks on our prototype. Once again, while I interviewed them, I would catch the struggles and doubts of our users, discovering more about their personal stories. Other employees could watch the tests in a second room, taking notes and marking comments. All of that informed our design decisions, and strengthened my negotiations with stakeholders.
On the final weeks of design, I managed a team of three designers in a intense work schedule to put all the pieces together and deliver a full prototype and a PDF with the specs. Once the dev team took over, I would act as the PO, helping them to navigate the documentation around the user journeys, interactions, animations and the overall architecture.
Empathy for users is the main pilar of user centric design, but if you don't communicate effectively with stakeholders all the learnings from the design process might never find its way to the users hands. Empathy for the stakeholders and my work colleagues was my greatest achievement from this project. I had to learn how to articulate design decisions for non-designers. I disclosured the research methodology and I became extremely didatic in research reports and the intentions associated with each prototype. Slowly, different directors and the CEO built trust on the design team adopting a more user-backed decision process.