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Teacher Created Materials Ecommerce Website 2018-05-17T18:49:48+00:00

Project Description

Teacher Created Materials

Project Overview

Teacher Created Materials is a leading publisher of educational books, lessons, and materials for teachers, schools, and districts. However, their ecommerce site had not been updated in several years and did not reflect the level of professionalism the company was otherwise known for. As a result, online sales had slumped to almost nothing. The company knew the structure of their site didn’t work for their diverse customer base and needed a User Experience overhaul.

Project Type: Ecommerce Website
Industry: Education

My Role

• UX Lead
• Principal UX Designer
• Creative Director

I led an interdisciplinary team of 3 people that encompassed all phases of UX research, UX design, and UI design.

What I Did

• Requirements gathering
• Conducted UX workshop
• User research
• Card sorting
• Personas
• Task models
• User Journey
• Sitemap
• Wireframes
• Prototyping
• Usability testing
• User Interface Design

Research

UNDERSTANDING THE USER & CREATING EMPATHY

Requirements Gathering & User Research

Our team began this project with a series of stakeholder interviews to understand the brand goals. We then conducted a day-long User Experience Workshop with key stakeholders of the company. During this workshop we conducted primary user research with a wide range of user types, from elementary school teachers to district-level administrators. We also learned that these different user types all needed access to the same product information, however, they each searched for and consumed information for different reasons and in vastly different ways. We realized our biggest challenge was to structure the site to accommodate each of these divergent user types equally.

Personas

As we worked through user research, each persona we identified seemed to spawn two additional personas that need to be accounted for. Luckily Teacher Created Materials had established great relationships with many educators making easy work of gathering persona information. We identified and developed 10 different personas in all for this website, ranging from elementary teachers, parents, librarians, to telephone customer support staff.

Information Architecture

ORGANIZING THE STRUCTURE OF CONTENT & FEATURES

Card Sorting

Since the current Teacher Created Materials site had obvious taxonomy issues we had to view the site structure as a complete rebuild. We conducted a Card Sorting exercise with various user types in order to understand how they think about the relationship between product categories. Surprisingly, there was a lot of commonality between the various user types. We then used this information to develop a new navigational structure.

Task Models

We had discovered early on that each persona has his or her own mental model of how products and information should logically be found. This made creating Task Models quite an involved process. We started by sketching out basic needs on a Task Model Worksheet then refining those to come up with the finished product. The greatest commonality that we saw was the need to find products based on a wide set of criteria. Signs of a complex search function was starting to reveal itself.

User Journey

I felt it was necessary to design the search function process first on paper for all personas so that we could all “see it” as it should work, test our ideas, then refine them. I started with the usual pads of colored sticky notes and a sharpie. I organized them into a process that made sense then refined that into a fully documented User Journey document. The team used this work to design the core functions of the site.

Sitemap

Using the task Models and User Journey as a basis, we created the Sitemap. As it turned out, once the User Journey was created and fully tested, the Sitemap was rather simple to complete. Much of the complexity lived within the search and browse function of the User Journey. All other content was secondary to that.

Wireframes

COMPOSING SOLUTIONS THAT DELIGHT THE USER

Wireframes

I developed wireframes that incorporated our discoveries and ideas during the User Journey and Sitemap phases. I started with whiteboard sketches to work through the core functions. It became apparent rather quickly that I needed to explore a faceted search function to account for the complexity detailed in the User Journey. We worked through several ideas and finally arriving at the perfect solution that was ultimately vetted through user testing.

Prototype

BUILDING A FUNCTIONAL MODEL TO TEST OUR IDEAS

Prototype

Using Axure RP I developed an interactive prototype from the largely static wireframes. The prototype brought to life the faceted search functions for a variety of shopping scenarios. I was able to refine this until the entire team was happy with how it worked. Of course that means nothing until we get it into User Testing.

Usability Testing

GETTING FEEDBACK FROM THE USER

Usability Testing

I conducted two rounds of Usability Testing with actual customers. The first round of testing was with low-fidelity wireframes with the goal of flushing out my weaker ideas and finding what resonated with the customers. Once I made the necessary adjustments, I proceeded onto high-fidelity prototypes. For the second round of testing I used later stage prototypes. Because Teacher Created Materials had relationships with educators all across the US, I was able to conduct live remote Usability Tests via GoToMeeting screen sharing. It proved to be quite effective in getting the best match in test subjects and research feedback.

Visual Design

BRINGING THE DESIGNS TO LIFE

User Interface Design

Teacher Created Materials had well-established visuals for their brand that we had to adhere to during the UI phase. We established a few new rules for the brand guidelines and designed the templates accordingly. The feedback we received from Teacher Created Materials stakeholders was overwhelmingly positive.

Results

WHERE THE RUBBER MEETS THE ROAD

Results

Our team developed a whole new way for Teacher Created Materials to approach their product taxonomy that was fully vetted through the feedback we got directly from their core customers. Their new design offers a scalable facetted search function that serves all of their personas equally. As of this writing, the site is still under development and will launch Q1 of 2014.

Let’s Work Together

LET ME KNOW HOW I CAN HELP

If you’re looking for advice on your next big idea or you are looking for a seasoned design leader to add to your team, send me note. I am always on the lookout for my next challenge.

LET’S TALK