'Arrow redesign' - The Bio Agency

A redesign project for a huge US eCommerce company - Arrow Electronics. The engagement involved being parachuted in to act as UX Lead for the design of product page architecture and to provide UX direction for purchase journeys. Arrow Electronics' goal was to improve sales and click-throughs to 'cross-sell' (related or popular) products. Aside from UX output, the mentoring of inhouse junior UX designers was the ultimate scope of this brief engagement.

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

Service/s provided: UX design / UX consulting


Discovery

By nature of the engagement, the project was underway at the time of my assisting. 'Discovery' per se had already taken place between the agency and their client. I got up to speed by speaking with the agencies Creative Director before he headed off to gather requirements, on-the-fly, from the client.

It was very much a case of hit the ground running and churn out the work.


Challenges

The crew at The BIO Agency had commenced their re-design of their client's website - without any prior UX direction or investigation. This proved evident from the outset and with no inherent UX discipline within the agency, it was difficult to influence a user-centred design change in the running of the project.

The Creative Director was in the US working with the client on information gathering (and the sales pitch). This led to daily requirements changes - often-vague. I naturally took the initiative to redesign page templates and common components on an 'expert design' basis and sending these back with the aim of encouraging more considered and informed discussion between the parties involved - a necessity given the time constraints of the project.

As a result, the working practice was a case of producing a wireframe and throwing it over the fence (handing it over) to the visual design team who then applied the visual skin. Or, for visual designs that had already been created prior to any UX foundational work, it was a case rationalising and then asking them to revisit to align to a more robust design rationale. 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.

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.

The mentoring of apprentice UX designers was the greater win as I was able to give insight to my working practice, including the 'why', and to shed light on better ways of working than they were being exposed to at the agency.


My process

Due to the imperfect approach and time constraints, I established a working process of sketching the solution and encouraging the apprentice user experience designers to turn these into low-fidelity wireframes. The reason was two-pronged - to allow me to first focus the design thinking - to consider overall consistent page components, interaction patterns and page layouts etc. Secondly, to then explaining the design rationale and framing of the solutions in a way as to draw out UX thinking from the apprentice UX practitioners. This generated discussions around the 'why'. This seemed very helpful in encouraging critical design thinking, whilst also being pragmatic in the need for getting the work done under a tight time deadline.


Learnings

As a knowledge and skills-based 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, as well as the rationale behind design decisions to those eager to learn.

This project experience re-enforced, in me, the need for a UX-lead design approach to any product design project. I was also reminded that this isn't always the case despite best intentions.