ECOMMERCE USER RESEARCH METHODs
More people are shopping online than ever before, and more and more businesses that used to require an in-store experience are moving online. But for some industries, being online only can present some unique problems. A perfect example of this is the fragrance industry. My team and I were tasked to help a fictional business called the Fragrance Club that proposed a good solution to this issue. The Fragrance Club allowed people to join a subscription service where every month they would be sent fragrance tester bottles to try. If they liked a particular scent, they could buy full-size bottles from the Fragrance Club. The business already had a website homepage designed. My team’s job was to test the current concept and web design with users to see how the concept and design could be improved.
Lesley University Course Project
UX researcher (part of a team)
Professor Kirk Doggett
- Have purchased fragrances in-store before.
- Age: 21-65
- Gender: Any
- Income: $40,000 – $150,000+
- Geography: US only
- Language: English
The project took 6 weeks to complete, with some tasks overlapping:
- Interviews: 2 weeks
- Make empathy map: 1 week
- Usability test: 1 week
- Design user stories: 1 week
- Design personas: 1 week
We began by conducting interviews with potential customers of the Fragrance Club. We asked them about their experiences shopping in-store for fragrances, and their experiences shopping for fragrances online, their experiences with subscription services, and what generally prompts them to shop for a fragrance. From this, we found some major pain points.
- It’s hard to understand how something smells from a description.
- Users don’t want to buy whole bottles of something they haven’t tried.
- Users want to sample several scents before making a purchase decision.
We then completed several competitor analyses of competitors already operating in the online fragrance market. Using this information, and the information from our interviews, I designed an empathy map to better determine what tasks and questions to incorporate in our usability tests with our given website mockup.
We then ran the usability tests on UserTesting.com with potential users, having them record their screens as they clicked and having them talk through their actions. We learned:
- The concept was easy to understand, and was well liked as it appeared to be a great time saver.
- The site seemed out of date.
- Because of the outdated site design, users didn’t feel that they would be comfortable putting their credit card into the signup.
- People who change fragrances frequently go looking for new fragrances at least once a season.
- The free trial was especially appealing, as people want to spend very little (or nothing) to test scents.
With this information, we built updated user stories and personas to better represent the Fragrance Club user and to inform the website redesign.
Next Steps and Recommendations
The research done for this project helped the Fragrance Club confirm the viability of their business idea, and also uncovered a surprising major pain point- the website itself. As a result, I would recommend doing the following next:
- Analyze competitor websites to see how their designs compare to the Fragrance Club’s.
- Develop a more minimalist website design with more modern design patterns, based on that competitor analysis.
- Run another set of usability tests, with the updated homepage mockup, and see if the site design is no longer a barrier to product adoption.