CASE OUTLINE  

CASE STUDY SERVICE DESIGN

Simplifying booking and progressing through the steps of ceramic pottery-making

 

The Pottery Shed - 2017

Background

The Pottery Shed is a studio that runs classes and sessions for new and experienced potters to create ceramic work. It prides itself as being a warm and friendly environment that welcomes the general public and makes technical processes easy to understand.

This was one of my projects at General Assembly's UX Design Immersive (10 week, full time) course.

SHARING THE LOVE OF POTTERY

Joe, the owner of The Pottery Shed, started the studio to share his passion for the craft.

Beyond this, his hope was that the community would continually share and grow, with experienced potters teaching newcomers.

Located in Sydney's inner suburbs, The Pottery Shed's studio brings wheel-thrown pottery to the masses

Project Brief

REIMAGINE THE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE

Our challenge was to improve the overall pottery experience in a way that perhaps, at a more ambitious level, grows the community.

The main objectives were to:

  • Engage new as well as existing customers of The Pottery Shed

  • Determine if a mobile app is the most effective solution

  • Design a mobile app (if the above is the case)

ROLE

UX designer

TEAM

Worked with 2 other UX designers, Ann Layson and William Xu

MAIN CONTRIBUTIONS

Business and user research

Interviews, survey, usability testing, contextual inquiry

Analysis of findings

Affinity mapping, persona creation, feature prioritisation

Ideating

Service design, paper/digital wireframing

Design

UI design, prototyping, usability testing

DURATION

2 weeks

TOOLS

Pen and paper, Google Forms, Marvel App, Sketch App, InVision

PROJECT KICKOFF

Online Research

EARLY CLUES

To kick off the project, we conducted online research to learn as much as possible about The Pottery Shed's offering before speaking to the business or real customers.

 

What we learned was:

  • There was a website for making bookings and payment
     

  • The website was non-responsive. The desktop design remained the same on mobile
     

  • There was a Facebook group with over 2000 followers and active posts

Bookings and payment could be made on the existing website.

There appeared to only be a desktop version, which remained the same on mobile devices

Crafting a Research Plan

DISCOVERY PHASE - INVESTIGATING ALL PARTS OF THE USER JOURNEY

We ran a workshop, mapping our current understanding of The Pottery Shed and generating questions and assumptions. From this we planned the following research strategy: 

  1. Usability test the existing website
    Review the desktop and mobile site with potential customers and get feedback on booking
     

  2. Book and take a class
    Experience a beginners class first-hand to understand the journey of customers who are new to pottery
     

  3. Observe and interview customers
    Explore the experiences of different customers and identify areas which can be improved

A mind map of our questions and assumptions on The Pottery Shed

USER RESEARCH

Reviewing the Existing Website

We tested the existing website on desktop and mobile with 5 participants who were screened as potential customers (they were open to, but had never visited the Pottery Shed). We wanted to get feedback on their first impressions of the website, and the booking and payment process.

What we discovered was:

The website was difficult to read

Participants found the combination of text size, colour and contrast was difficult to read for both desktop and mobile

Home page (desktop)

Home page (mobile)

Unclear what the different classes and sessions were
There was difficulty understanding the difference between Throwing, Trimming, Glazing classes, and Returning sessions

Difficulty finding availabilities
Sessions were mostly booked weeks in advance and searching for availabilities required scrolling through a long list of times

Booking a class/session menu 

Booking a Throwing class page

Taking a Class Ourselves

To understand the customer experience first-hand, we attended a beginners class before interviewing the owner and getting his perspective.

We discovered the process of creating a piece of pottery required several steps and there was a system to manage this. Understanding this system would be key to improving it.

The stages of pottery are sequential

Pottery must be completed in order of throwing, trimming and glazing. Projects expire if left idle for 30 days after throwing or 60 days after trimming.

1. Throwing

  • Wet clay is moulded into shape

2. Trimming

  • Dried clay has detail carved in

  • Clay is fired to harden

3. Glazing

  • Paint and seal hardened clay

  • Clay is fired to finish the product

Projects are stored after each step

Each work-in-progress is labelled and allocated a position on a shelf. There are different shelves for each stage of completion.  

A digital tracking system for recording

iPads are used to sign in to classes/sessions and track projects. You can record which stage you are at, the date and shelf location.

Projects are stored in an allocated shelf

iPads are used for project tracking

Findings from Observing and Interviewing Customers

After the class, we interviewed 8 customers to get feedback on their personal experiences with The Pottery Shed. Our goal was to uncover any pain points or opportunities.

We discovered we were speaking to a range of customers, from those who were new to pottery, to experienced potters who worked independently.

Booking is difficult on a mobile phone
One customer double-booked on their phone because the mobile site contains small font which is difficult to read.

"I have to wait till I get to work to book sessions. That's the only time I'm on a computer"

Lack of flexibility purchasing 10-session vouchers
10-session vouchers can only be purchased in-store and are not advertised online.

 

"Let me pay and purchase vouchers anywhere, anytime"

Using 10-session vouchers requires manual handling
Remaining session vouchers are kept in a physical folder. They need to be torn off each session and placed in a jar 

 

"There is a missing opportunity to handle this digitally"

Missing an email reminder can disrupt project completion
One customer missed an email reminder about an expiring project.

 

"...I was not been notified by email and my pots were recycled"

NARROWING OUR FOCUS

Our research so far had been quite open and exploratory in nature. We now needed to narrow down what our focus would be for this project.

 

To achieve this, we wanted to prioritise solving issues that would create the most value for both The Pottery Shed and its customers.

The UK Design Council's Double Diamond helped guide our design strategy

Interviewing the Owner

RETURNING CUSTOMERS ARE AN INDICATOR OF SUCCESS

We needed to understand the business needs we were solving for, and how we could generate the biggest impact for The Pottery Shed. We interviewed Joe, the owner of The Pottery Shed and learned that:

1. The Pottery Shed was already successful at drawing in customers

  • ​Classes were usually 80% booked weeks in advance

  • Google brought over 20,000 hits to the website

2. Success means more return customers

  • Only about 20% of customers purchased 10-session vouchers

  • There were very few customers who made it a long term commitment

Customer Feedback Survey

USING QUANTITATIVE DATA TO PRIORITISE ISSUES

Before jumping into design, we wanted to get data from the wider customer base to further understand motivations, behaviour and to help prioritise feedback.

 

We conducted a survey using Google Forms to reach out to the Facebook group of over 2000 followers. Our data revealed that, of the 167 responses:

  1. 74% were new to pottery when they started at The Pottery Shed
    For the majority of The Pottery Shed's new customers, it was their first introduction to pottery.
     

  2. 73% preferred to book by mobile phone, however, only 48% were actually doing this
    There is a need to improve the mobile experience

REFRAMING THE PROBLEM
Customers have difficulty tracking the progressive steps required in pottery making. This is further complicated by the difficulty they have managing their bookings.

  • From our research and journey mapping, we identified that users land on the Home page but have difficulty discovering the How Spacer works for Hosts page. We concluded that this results in users being unsure about how to list spaces on the platform, leading to a shortage of listings.

  • Customer research revealed that it was easy to rent but difficult to lease from the home page.

SOLUTION HYPOTHESIS

Educate customers on the pottery process, and to track their projects, through an efficient bookings a vouchers management system.

Redesign the website to improve customer conversion. Restructure content based on customer insights with a focus on the home page as the primary point of entry.

DISCOVERY

To kick off the project, we conducted online research to learn as much as possible about The Pottery Shed's offering before speaking to the business or real customers. 

Usability testing with 5 potential customers on the desktop and mobile versions of the website

Ann (left), William (middle) and I (right) immerse ourselves in pottery to ask the question, "Will a mobile app improve the customer experience of The Pottery Shed?"

A concept map of our exploratory research on Spacer

We created a business model canvas as we strived to understand Spacer's customer base and how their products and services meet their needs

WHAT'S THE CURRENT USER EXPERIENCE?

Before getting the owner's view of The Pottery Shed's offering, we wanted to get an unbiased understanding of what the current experience was at The Pottery Shed from the customer's point of view. We met with the owner and arranged to have a lesson to:

  • Immerse ourselves in the user journey

  • Observe customers (contextual inquiry)

  • Interview customers

SPACER'S SUCCESS MEANS HAVING THE LARGEST MARKETPLACE

Interviewing stakeholders helped us understand their challenges and align on business goals. This would then guide our research strategy to interview non-users as well as customers of Spacer.

GOALS

  1. Become a 'household name'

    Raise awareness of their platform

  2. Grow the customer base

    Recruit more hosts to increase supply in the Spacer marketplace

 

CHALLENGES

  1. Creating brand awareness

  2. Educating people on how to use Spacer

  3. Online conversion

 

!

 

 

Customer

conversion

 

Brand

awareness

 

?

 

 

Yet to discover Spacer

 

Entered website

 

Spacer user

Becoming a Spacer Customer

HYPOTHESIS

Spacer believed that redesigning the 3 specified pages for mobile to increase conversion would grow its marketplace of hosts and renters ​​

Overview

PROBLEM

It's difficult to progress to an experienced potter.

Customers have difficulty managing their bookings and tracking the sequential steps required in making pottery.

SOLUTION

Help potters complete their projects. 

Educate customers on the pottery process and track their projects through an efficient bookings and voucher management system.

Current customer journey

blockers inhibit the completion of a pottery project 

Proposed customer journey

alleviates blockers and empowers customers to progress their skills

RESEARCH

Understanding the Business

After receiving the project brief, our first point of action was to understand the business structure of Spacer and learn why we were tasked to redesign the 3 specific pages in the brief.

DISCOVERY & 

STAKEHOLDER INTERVIEWS

After initial online research and an expert review of the website, I lead a concept mapping workshop to form assumptions and generate questions for 3 stakeholder interviews. 

CONCEPT MAP

ONLINE RESEARCH

EXPERT

REVIEW

OF WEBSITE

3

STAKEHOLDER INTERVIEWS

FOUNDER

MARKETING

CUSTOMER SERVICE

We then mapped out our understanding of Spacer on a business model canvas to help distill the business goal.

Business model canvas

BUSINESS GOAL

Spacer's success means having the largest marketplace.

In order to achieve this, Spacer needs to increase

  • brand awareness

  • conversion of hosts and renters 

 

!

 

 

Customer

conversion

 

Brand

awareness

 

?

 

 

Yet to discover Spacer

 

Entered website

 

Spacer user

Becoming a Spacer Customer

HYPOTHESIS

Spacer believed that redesigning the 3 specified pages to increase conversion would grow the marketplace of hosts and renters ​​

GOOGLE ANALYTICS

To measure how the Spacer website was doing, we benchmarked its performance at the time. 

From Google Analytics, we uncovered the following insights.

POINT OF ENTRY

Most traffic was landing on the Home page

It was clear that the Home page was a major point of entry and needed to be evaluated.

The low page views on the How Spacer Works pages indicated that they were not serving their purpose in educating renters and hosts on how to use Spacer.

 

DEVICE USE

Equal number of users for desktop and mobile

It would be effective to assess both the mobile and desktop experience to maximise conversion.

Understanding the Customer

 

USER INTERVIEWS AND USABILITY TESTING

To gain a full understanding of the customer experience, we conducted interviews and usability tests with 4 customers and 5 non-customers on both desktop and mobile. 

4 CUSTOMERS &

5 NON-CUSTOMERS

USER INTERVIEWS

USABILITY TESTING

Non-customer interview and usability testing

Customer interview and usability testing

Discoverability

Most people found Spacer through Google search and landed on the Home, How Spacer Works for Renters or Search Spaces page. While these pages were easily found by searching for a combination of the words “rent” or “lease” with “storage” or “parking”,

 

  • people couldn’t find Spacer if they searched “self storage”

 

  • the Host Landing page could only be found by searching “host storage” or “host parking” and people were not using this terminology

Map of the Spacer website

Usability

People couldn’t find information on the leasing process and were not expecting to sign up beforehand

Link hidden in footer of Home Page

People had difficulty creating a listing on the Home page 

Ambiguous button in header of Home Page

CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE

Easy to rent, difficult to lease

Spacer was easy to find by Google search. While the renting process was discoverable and straightforward, it was difficult to learn how to lease a space and create a listing.

Bounce Rates

Of the 40,000 sessions in September 2017:

25%

landed on the Home page

with a low 37% bounce rate

4.4%

landed on the Host Landing page

with a high 75% bounce rate

VS

Page Views

Of the 133,680 page views in September 2017:

22,632 (17%)

were of the 

Home page

VS

319 (0.24%)

were of the

How Spacer works page for Hosts

372 (0.24%)

were of the

How Spacer works page for Renters

Device Usage

Of the 141,218 sessions in July - September 2017:

47%

were desktop users and spend an average of 5.5 mins per session

45%

were mobile users and spend an average of 2 mins per session

VS

SYNTHESISING INSIGHTS

Identifying Opportunities

 

CONTEXTUAL INQUIRY

To get an understanding of the entire customer journey, I hosted storage space on Spacer and Joanne applied to rent it. From this, we were able to map out the current customer journey and identify points of opportunity. I put this into the context of 4 personas:

  • 2 primary personas representative of the extremes of confident and unconfident hosts

  • 2 secondary personas representative of parking and storage renters

PERSONAS & CUSTOMER JOURNEYS

Screen Shot 2017-10-23 at 12.14.50 pm.pn

Unconfident Host

"Show me value before I use your service!"

Screen Shot 2017-10-23 at 12.14.50 pm.pn

Confident Host

"What's the minimum I can do?"

Screen Shot 2017-10-23 at 12.14.50 pm.pn

Parking Renter

"Is this for storage or parking?"

Screen Shot 2017-10-23 at 12.14.50 pm.pn

Storage Renter

"I want to search by storage type"

Customer Journey

We mapped out the journey of hosts and renters to identify points of opportunity

Affinity map

We used Post-it notes to group and prioritise our findings from user interviews and usability tests

FEATURE PRIORITISATION

The points of opportunity from the customer journey map were prioritised based on importance to the customer, distilled from an affinity mapping activity. We then identified features to address each of these points.

DESIGN

Ideation

 

MINIMUM VIABLE PRODUCT

To generate an initial concept, Joanne and I rapidly sketched paper wireframes individually based on our “must” features. The most effective parts of each person’s design were incorporated into a single wireframe. The result of our designs was a mobile website with a:

 

  • Clear call-to-action for leasing space on the Home page

 

  • A menu to navigate and find content

 

  • A link to find information on how the process of hosting works

 

Design Studio

Workshop to rapidly generate ideas for a concept design

Prototyping

Final Wireframe

Combining the most effective parts of each person's designs

Prototype 1.0

Interactive prototype for early testing

USABILITY TESTING

Fine-tuning a logical flow with relevant content.

We tested and iterated across 2 prototypes. Our focus was to make it easy for customers to identify that they can lease a space and complete a listing. 

FIRST ITERATION

Testing task completion.

We tested with Prototype 1.0 with 8 non-customers, asking them to complete the following tasks:

1. As someone who is skeptical, find out if Spacer is for you to lease spare space

2. As someone who is confident, advertise your spare space

3. As someone who is skeptical, find out if Spacer is for you to rent storage/parking

4. As someone who is confident, rent storage/parking space (for the month of October)

SECOND ITERATION

Structuring content.

For Prototype 2.0, we structured the content based on what users felt was important to them from interviews. We then tested content structure and different appearances of the Home page (A/B test) with 5 non-users. What we discovered was:

 

THIRD ITERATION

Simplifying the user flow.

For Prototype 3.0, we incorporated feedback into a logical flow for confident and unconfident hosts and renters.

RESULTS

Final Prototype

NEXT STEPS

Feasibility and measuring success.

The next step would be to work with the web development and marketing departments to implement the designs. We could then compare our initial benchmark and measure success.

THE OUTCOME

I worked collaboratively with 2 other UX designers on a 2-week sprint in research, analysis, ideation, design and prototyping for this project.

 

Though our brief was to design a mobile app, our research revealed that a mobile responsive website was a better design solution. This would be a more accessible platform for getting new potters started and progressing through their first project, as well as helping regulars keep track of multiple projects.

 

As a team, we executed and delivered a report and prototype to the client in September 2017.

REFLECTIONS

Asking why.

Understanding that the real goal of the project was to increase the conversion of new hosts was instrumental in designing a strategic solution around marketing and content strategy.

 

Working closely with stakeholders.

Working with the marketing and web development team more closely would have been beneficial in keeping everyone on the same page

 

Survey or interview?

A phone call interview would have yielded better qualitative insights than our survey

 

Customers appreciate being heard.

Customers were happy to share their feedback and offer ways to improve the service

Say hello!
 
I’d love to chat with you about design, opportunities or just exchange ideas
 
© 2020 David Lam