For about 8 weeks myself and another designer, under the supervision of a lead Designer worked closely with a large team at eBay including researchers, executives, product managers, and developers. We were tasked with creating and evaluating new systems for a major functionality by designing and testing with existing eBay users.
We started with a ramp-up phase including interviewing internal eBay stakeholders to truly understand the inner workings of the functionality we were investigating. We knew we were never going to be more of an expert than the people who worked on the product day in and day out. We talked to about 10 higher level managers and executives who would be impacted most by our work, or had the most experience with the functionality.
"From your perspective, what is the problem we are trying to solve for?"
Then we reviewed previous internal efforts at solving or addressing the functionality in anyway, once again we didn’t want to take anything for granted. It was paramount that we get all the data available in trying to solve and understand this problem. This included previous proposed solutions, results from tests, as well as research done in the sector.
The next step was to research other competitors and similar products that used similar functionality as an integral part of their product experience. We looked deeply into products like Amazon, Etsy, Uber, Lyft, Airbnb, Task Rabbit and others. We examined concepts, flows, interaction, copy, and structural decisions from all the competitors.
Modeling The Existing System
We created several object models to make sure we understood the entire system. Object models help us as a team understand the scope of what we’re designing, as well as help make sure we and the client are on the same page. We captured the entire system of eBay including every object and action users take.
Not only was it important for us to understand the system as a whole, but the smaller systems within. So I also modeled several other key flows and systems.
We also wanted to get a detailed understanding of the ebay system so we went through almost every flow possible and documented each screen and how it fit into the whole system.
We used various techniques to generate concepts that we wanted to explore. We brainstormed, skecthed, whiteboarded etc. Once we had several strong concepts to explore we moved onto concept wireframes.
After (and while) sketching out our initial ideas and generating a few strong concepts to explore we started with concept wireframes for each concept. These wireframes were not meant to be mobile or desktop and were meant to be done very quickly to validate or disprove the concept as quickly as possible.
With some refinement and discussion these wireframes slowly developed into higher fidelity wireframes, for both mobile and web.
Wireframes + Scenarios
Next the wireframes were paired with some detailed scenarios we created to further illustrate the concepts to the team. The story of using eBay is so intricate and varies based on the user that a single-flow prototype would not have been able to capture every experience.
We worked with an illustrator in our office to illustrate the scenarios and really put the wireframes into context. We created 4 detailed sceanrios spanning different users, use cases, and platforms.
We used these as an internal tool within eBay to get feedback not only from other people on the project but also other memebers of eBay who had valuable insight into what might and might not work.
Reaching out to both buyers sellers was integral to the success of this project. We wanted to understand their experiences, but also have them act as ambassadors for updates to the system. For input from sellers we worked with a large, well-known business management consultant and held a 2-day lab to learn from and work with real eBay sellers. The day’s activity included: large group discussions, small group sessions, and even running the sellers through some of our concepts and getting their feedback. We also tweaked some of our existing key wireframes to match what we heard.
Sellers made great points on the new concepts we showed. Overall the seller’s appreciated being involved in the experience, and we had a better understanding of what they did, and didn't like.
Next we wanted to get the new concepts into the hands of buyers, we created 3 separate simple prototypes using Invision. We had 10 different users walk through them, with one of the team members guiding them through and getting feedback simultaneously. We wanted to emulate the entire buying experience to see how participants would react given different scenarios. The participants were a good sampling of existing and new or infrequent eBay buyers.
For the final deliverable we created several versions of a usable prototype. This allowed us to refine the UI and interactions quite a lot more for each of the remaing concepts.
We built the prototypes and helped build the protocols for the tests. We used Framer as the prototyping tool, which allowed us to get to a very high fidelity of interaction.
Overall what I took away from this experience most is how valuable it is to talk to as many users, and as frequently as possible. On many occasions our initial assumptions were proved wrong by hearing from both buyers and sellers. But overall we came up with some very compelling concepts that helped both buyers and sellers have a better experience.