About the Project
Parisilk is a local electronics retailer that was originally a textile seller established in 1952. With currently 3 physical stores and an e-commerce site, Parisilk touts itself as having a reputation of providing the best personalised service with competitive prices and pledges to satisfy consumer needs without overselling.
Its e-Commerce store has been up and running for a couple of years but it is not performing to their expectations. The management believes the website needs to be ‘reorganised’, and have asked for help. 
For this two-week project, research was done to uncover user habits related to online shopping for consumer electronics goods. The goal was to redesign Parisilk’s mobile website to solve user problems identified through research.  
1. 'Discover' Phase
Usability Testing on current website
A usability test was conducted with 5 users on the current website. The consensus is that the main navigation is not intuitive given its cluttered web design that makes it hard to find desired products and/or categories quickly. There were also other perceived issues such as confusing price tags that requires a log-in to view and a comparison feature that shows mostly technical information.
Competitor Analysis
In terms of visibility, Parisilk trails behind names such as Harvey Norman, Best Denki and Courts with their sheer number of outlets located across the island. This is often accompanied by aggressive advertising campaigns by these industry leaders. Further analysis via Benchmarking was done on these key competitors' websites — Parisilk appears to fall short on a number of attributes, as shown on the table below:
Plus & Deltas
In addition, plus and deltas was also conducted to examine in greater detail how Parisilk fares, with an added best-in-class comparative example (US electronics retailer, Best Buy):
Research: User Interviews
In order to obtain quality insights, user interviews was the chosen mode of investigation. 10 questions on e-shopping for gadgets and appliances were posed to 10 interviewees. This group comprised of a mix of male & female adults between mid-20s to 51.
Research Insights
There were two key insights culled from an affinity mapping exercise based on the interviews:

1. Physical stores with experienced salespersons offer a reliable source of information on expensive/complex products - customers feel more assured when making purchase decisions after  interactions with the retail staff

2. Consumer electronic purchases are only made when items are damaged or when there are new products with sought-after innovations. Generally, customers tend to wait for sale promotions.
2. 'Define' Phase
Personas & Problem Statements
Research findings were synthesised to create 2 user personas, namely the gadget-loving consumer and homemaker who invests in kitchen appliances:

Chris "The Home-Proud Coolhunter" is a self-professed gadget lover and proud homeowner who likes to own sleek electronic devices. He prefers to visit physical stores and speak with salespersons for product information and recommendations for high-ticket items but being a busy professional, he is only free available on weekends.

Problem Statement:
Chris needs a way to shortlist complex high-quality electronics products so that he can enjoy using the latest technology for a better quality of life.
Jean "The Aspiring Tai-Tai" loves a ‘hipster’ lifestyle, always check out new trendy cafes whenever she can and wants her home to be adorned with design-centric items, especially in her kitchen.   However, she also wants value for her buck and waits for promotions before committing to a purchase for a KitchenAid mixer which she has been eyeing for some time.

Problem Statement:
Jean needs a way to buy quality kitchen appliances at bargain prices so that she can retreat to her kitchen to de-stress after a busy day at work.
'How Might We' Statement
Framing the problem statements into a 'How Might We...' statement helps usher in the ideation process.
In this instance: How might we improve the current website to become a trusted platform for purchase of consumer electronic products while offering value for money through relevant sale promotions?
3. 'Design' Phase
User Flow: Chris
In this scenario, Chris makes use of the text feature on the website to seek product advice from Parisilk specialists when comparing between different models of the soundbars that he is interested in. 
Sketches & Mid-fidelity Wireframes
On the sketch examples below, the last panel shows an illustration of the 'Ask the Expert' screen. These are also adapted to mid-fidelity wireframes for user testing purposes.
User Flow: Jean
In this scenario, Jean wastes no time in finding good deals on the site, armed with a discount code issued to her as a new e-newsletter subscriber. The goal was to purchase a new mixer for baking.
Sketches & Mid-fidelity Wireframes
In this scenario, Jean wastes no time in finding good deals on the site, armed with a discount code issued to her as a new e-newsletter subscriber. The goal was to purchase a new mixer for baking. The sketches depict 'Hot Deals' prominently displayed at the top on the homepage, which leads to a listing of various products on offer when clicked, including her target mixer. Mid-fidelity wireframes add a level of clarity on what the final design could look like. 
The initial usability tests on the current website has uncovered a general perception of an outdated web design, which might dissuade new visitors in making purchases.
Hence a facelift is necessary to inspire consumer confidence. For the redesign, a 'cool' teal colour palette with sans serif font was proposed, to evoke a sense of modernity that is also in tune with technology.
Proposed New Site Navigation & New Features
Cardsorting was conducted remotely with 28 users for a sub-category (Small Home Appliances) containing an assortment of 52 items. However, it was non-conclusive and further proof of the arbitrary bundling of items under a single category.
Based on a combination of competitor and comparative benchmarking, a proposed revised navigation was as follows:
To address the problem statements stated earlier, below is a list of a few proposed features:
Feature 1: Adding Chat Function
A streamlined chat function offering voice, text and video options grants easy access to product advice for consumers who typically rely on sales personnel's inputs. 

Feature 2: Making Good Deals prominent
A clickable hero image on the latest sales, featured prominently on the homepage, leads to a promotions directory with filtering options for users to hone into desired items easily.

Feature 3: Adding Buying Guides & Product Videos
With the addition of buying guides and product videos, users such as Chris will be able to perform initial product research easily within the website.

An interactive prototype (albeit with interactivity not fully enabled) was developed to demonstrate the proposed user flows for a better experience: 
Usability Tests
A usability test was conducted with a mid-fidelity prototype to ascertain if the redesign can now enable users to find their desired product information quickly and deriving value from its use.

Methodology used:
5 users (comprising 3 male & 2 female adults between ages 30-47) via remote testing

Test Scenarios:
1. Chris - After doing some online search for a soundbar, you decide to head to the Parisilk website on your mobile to check out what’s available and to use the chat function to get more product information from their experienced and reliable sales representative.

2. Jean - After doing some online search for a mixer, you decide to head to the Parisilk website on your mobile to check for good deals. You have previously signed up for their newsletter and will be using their promo code to get additional discounts.
Test Results
All 5 users were able to locate the items/information based on the user scenarios and find the app straightforward and easy to use.  All 5 users also found the checkout process familiar and were able to complete the flow without fuss. However, 3 out of 5 users were unable to find the link to the 'Buying Guide' on the product details page located on the top right corner of the screen.
4. 'Deliver' Phase
Design Iteration
Acting on the above finding, the hyperlink to the Buying Guide on the product details page was shifted next to the 'Specifications' link within the product description section.
Final Thoughts
Completing the project was a satisfying experience. The user interviews and usability tests have given good insights and helped dispel certain notions/biases that I have as a electronics product consumer myself. While the cardsorting exercise did not translate into usable categories, it does shed some light on the differences among users encountering the same items. Again, these serve as a reminder that UX designers are to put users at the forefront and design for them, even if  'conventional wisdom' dictates otherwise.
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