One of my first tastes into the field of user experience was with the liquor chain, Binny’s. They had been working with my employer at the time, Unbound Commerce, for a short while by the time I had become a part of the team. Binny’s already had a custom designed mobile native app built for them. This work had been done by the designer at Unbound before me, and although we did share overlapping time, this project hadn’t been one where we got to work together - or even discuss.
When I got the chance to work with Binny’s, they had two specific needs they hadn’t felt were realized yet and needed to be pushed. The first was pretty straightforward: the ask for heavy catalogue filtering. The second, was a bit more complex in that they had a loyal fanbase who had been largely dedicated to the brick-and-mortar experience. They had the nearly the entirety of their loyalty program sign up but provide no information past a phone number or email. Binny’s primary goal was to get more information in order to supply a better, more personalized experience.
Binny’s customer base was primarily composed of an older audience - even considering their starting age was 21 or older. They cited most of their loyal customers to be 40-60 in age and most importantly - very uncomfortable with technology. This discomfort came in not being familiar and as a result usually bled into a form of mistrust.
By the time I had joined the Unbound Commerce team, Binny’s had already invested a lot of time and energy on their app. They weren’t interested in conversations on resources and I never got to speak with them directly. So, they had no interest in fundamentals like user testing or even our team having short conversations with customers to get an idea of their feeling of the experience.
The foundation I began with prompted me to lay a lot of ground work in competitive research and reading a lot on UX best practices for onboarding, searching, and filtering. Online resources and behavior case studies are plentiful for these subjects, so it wasn’t too difficult to get a standard flow in.
As I designed and adjusted my flow for Binny’s, they would review on their own time. It hadn’t taken long before they became more engaged in sharing feedback and discussing what they believed their customers would respond to based off of their experiences. This gave me enough information to tweak the flow and even personalize it better to their brand.
I stepped into the work for search and filtering when it had been partially completed by the designer before me. I had been briefed on the flow he had intended, as well as the primary needs of Binny’s.
Leveraging online researching resources for most of this work, I had focused on heavy load filtering. Seeing as the user would have to navigate a large load of categories with hundreds of products within, they would need to be able to maintain an understanding of what filters had been applied and which were yielding results.
From this, I knew I’d have to establish a few key features:
Visual hierarchy to indicate the different levels of category
Counter of products available for leaf-level categories
Counter of applied features
Ability to granularly edit the filters
Ability to mass-clear the filters
Prominent search with ability to scan
Visually breaking the search out was of a higher importance to me, knowing that these users typically have their standard go-to’s. Although scanning is something that is a bit more for those who are comfortable with technology, it provided a good way to bridge the gap between younger and older audiences.
Fortunately for me, as I developed the search and filter functionalities I found that communication between myself and the stakeholders of Binny’s open up. This helped greatly, as I had felt the requests for the login flow needed some key revisions from what they planned.
Naturally after having made such great progress with our client and fresh in the professional world, I got to experience my first professional mistake - mocking before wireframing the flow. When I went to present my flow, I quickly noticed I had missed a few key issues for security purposes as well as simple features like options for forgotten passwords.
This gave me a great opportunity to open the floor as a more discussion based event though, and found that it even made it more comfortable to discuss the changes in flow I wanted to solicit.
They wanted to fixate on the login as their key point for gathering information and didn’t have many plans outside of this flow. In doing so, I felt the fields asked for would weigh down on an already uncomfortable audience. So, I had presented a flow that hinged on a few key points:
Onboarding style flow to provide a comforting step-by-step guide
Provide ability to skip and continue as a guest at any point, to avoid user fatigue and abandonment
Added several fields for information gathering, but making most optional and keeping the list concise
These features focus greatly on providing comfort to the user by suggesting the best path rather than binding them to any particular route. By adding the option to skip and continue as a guest, as well as limiting the fields to create your account, we allow the user to maintain comfort and not lose trust in the flow.
In order to supplement the reducing the fields early in the flow, I suggested 2 items to encourage information sharing. One, was adding very concise, informative blurbs during registration that would give the user information on the reward of filling out these sections. The second, was providing a greater depth of account options. When the user goes to their account page after registering, they can see more fields to fill in should they choose - and now they would also have an announcement encouraging the benefit of doing so.
The stakeholders of Binny’s were willing to agree to this extra section because they felt it would fit the attitude of the customer base they knew. This particular group was one more inclined to add information as they felt comfortable, with reason and reward to do so.
Binny’s was a truly fantastic first case for me as a designer. I was able to work in the process of designer handoff as well as beginning a feature from the start. Where the stakeholders I worked with were initially unavailable, we were able to build a working relationship to the point of developing the flow as a team - and all from the happy mistake of anxiously starting my mock process a little too early.