'Arrow redesign' - The Bio Agency

This ecommerce redesign was for huge US company, Arrow Electronics. I was parachuted in as acting UX Lead to design the architecture and provide design direction for purchase journeys with the aim of improving sales and increasing visibility of other related or popular products. UX involvement was inherently hindered, though the UX output as well as guidance on the visual design and the mentoring of others were my responsibility.

Client industry / sector: Creative Agency
Client location: Fitzrovia, London
Project delivery time: 2 months

Service/s provided: UX design / UX consulting / User testing


Discovery

By nature of the engagement, there wasn't a period of discovery during my time. It was a case of hit the ground running and churn out work.


Challenges

The Creative Director driving the project was in the US working with the client on the sales pitch.

The crew at The BIO Agency were already in the middle of re-designing their client's website when I was brought in to assist. The project lacked UX direction from the outset and with no real understanding of the value of UX within the agency, it was difficult to influence a user-centred change in the running of the project. The entrenched thinking was typical agency and not user-centred in any way - the visual designs had already been completed before any UX thinking, let alone design, had been undertaken.

The established workflow was a case of either producing the work and throwing it over the fence (handing it over) to the visual design team whom then applied the visual skin or redesigning what they had already done and then asking them to amend prior work. I was able to mitigate some of this, to an extent, by establishing a working relationship with one of the visual designers - together we shared respective UX and visual design insights and rationale to better arrive at a solution for the client.

Oft-vague requirements came back from the US in drip-feed form, so I naturally took the initiative to redesign page templates and common components on an 'expert design' basis - sending these back with the aim of encouraging more considered and informed discussion between the parties involved - a necessity given the situation.

The requirement for a mobile site later emerged - effectively meaning reverse engineering the 'new' visual designs the agency had already completed in order to create this mobile, not responsive, version of the site.

There were two apprentice user experience designers in the project team who required (and wanted) mentorship and guidance during the project.


Outcome

The client (and therefore agency) were happy with the redesigned segments of their site that I produced.


My process

I established a working process of sketching the solution and encouraging the apprentice user experience designers turn these sketches into low-fidelity wireframes. Doing so allowed me to first focus the design thinking required to consider overall consistent page components, interaction patterns, and page layouts, before then explaining the design rationale and framing the solutions in a way as to draw out UX thinking from the apprentice UX practitioners - generating discussions around the 'why'. This catered to providing mentorship and guidance, in encouraging critical design thinking, whilst also being pragmatic in the need for getting the work done under a tight time pressure.


Learnings

As a contractor it's not often I get to mentor newer or younger UX practitioners and so this was a bonus of this engagement. A rediscovered joy in sharing knowledge and lending keen design insight and the rationale behind design decisions to those eager to learn, was had.

This experience re-enforced in me the need for a UX-led design approach to any product design that users engage with. I also learned that this isn't always the outcome despite best intentions.