From Green to Magenta is the third lesson learned at WIAD Bucharest 2015. Grapefruit's project presentation is about what it takes to create happy user experiences. A clear development process covering steps such as business analysis and workshops, prototyping and design, content strategy, (re)defining internal processes and so much more.
“You think you know a story, but you only know how it ends. To get to the heart of the story, you have to go back to the beginning”. (King Henry VIII, The Tudors TV Series)
Business analysis, user persona, wireframes, user journeys, responsive, content, user testing, sleepless nights and great partnership, you name it, this story has all ingredients to really impress you.
It's the whole story of a project developed in almost two years, involved dozens of people and thousands documentation pages. Just to make it very clear, this project was not just about a new user interface. I would say it’s a real change management project as it involved developing and implementing a new ecommerce solution with a user interface to accommodate Cosmote’s plans and services, fulfilling customers’ needs, creating and managing content the right way, defining internal processes, aligning stakeholders across departments and companies, and managing conflicts.
I was lucky enough to be part of this story for almost 2 years, so while reading this post you’ll come across of some personal insights shared for the first time.
No great UX is born over night
Whether you are working on client or agency side, you must probably now by now that selling information architecture, user experience or content strategy can be quite challenging, when you lack an educated internal or external client context.
I know this because I have spent around ten years of my life building e-business departments for different types of organizations across the most dynamic industries. Other people know it too because they have also made these journeys both possible and successful. Yet, there are many more who need proof that building a digital project capable of generating real business results is done neither overnight, without careful planning or a well-defined process.
I should add that besides the 4421 officially reported hours, there were another few hundreds unreported by the agency and few more thousands on the client team’s side… not to mention another few thousands with the platform integrator.
Commitment to change
Let's go a little bit back in time, November 2012 to be more specific, when the Cosmote.ro website looked like it was a record from the Internet Archive. Cosmote decided to make a radical change in the way it approached the online services.
“Change starts when someone sees the next step” William Dryton
It was no secret! Everybody knew it—the users, the Client, the Agency. Cosmote.ro was far away from what the competitors offered, it did not reflect well on the brand values, did not offer all that users actually needed and updating the site was a quite a challenge for the internal team. Therefore, it was no wonder that all parties wanted a new Cosmote.ro website which would better reflect the brand values, solve users’ problems and offer them a great user experience. The team had a great advantage in making this happen, someone who clearly saw the next steps … a very supportive top management team.
While working on the project, there were many cases we realized that we had to find a way to fit many new deliverables in the initial project planning—some new user journeys, new functionalities we’ve imagined or page templates nobody realized we needed. If it weren’t for the commitment of all the people across departments, this would not have been possible.
Winning with a strategy
In autumn 2012, following a well-organised and transparent pitch, Cosmote team put its trust in Grapefruit to design the user interface for the ATG e-commerce platform.
There were few people who for various reasons did not give Grapefruit a chance at winning, yet we did, and it was not for our humour (although later on it proved to be quite useful when facing critical situations). What made the difference was a not a 100 pages coloured presentation, yet a well-thought strategy, a driven senior team with excellent track record, extensive research, great inside-out understanding of telecom industry and client-agency chemistry.
The proper development process
One of the major topics Grapefruit team underlined even before starting working on the project was the importance of having and respecting a clear development process for it’s one of the most common reasons for failure. I’m not going to go through all details of the project, yet I’ll only review them briefly:
Stakeholder Workshops & Business Analysis
Without this first major step no project can be delivered successfully; it involves people across all Clients’ departments and requires a mandatory mindset for change; it’s that time when parties get to know each other, set clear project objectives, look carefully and prioritise internal and external customer needs, understand human and technical project constraints;
Describe real people with backgrounds, goals, and values and when well-defined, they give a clear picture of the user's expectations and needs, as well as how they're likely to use the site; personas are only as good as the research behind them and in this case the Client did a great job at putting together all quantitative and qualitative research data; consequently, later on they helped us identifying and creating various features and functionalities; slot machine is just one great functionality example developed for Miron.
Prototyping and design
With all the information gathered and clarified, we all moved to the next phase, the design itself; ensuring a proper information architecture played a key part as we had to make sure that users, no matter how technically skilled they are, find exactly what they are looking for; Axure was the right tool to show and get client’s feedback on the main site components (e-shop, myAccount and tens of corporate page templates).
It’s no secret that great user experience is achieved through content, branding, functionality and usability ensures; unfortunately is content that most often gets ignored so selling it to key stakeholders was a major priority from the start; it was no easy task, yet when putting numbers behind it and proving the risks of ignoring it using real life examples, things do happen for the better, therefore a dedicated team took over the responsibility of gathering, writing, approving and publishing it.
This new project stage required by the Client was the first true test for the entire project team; so many months of hard work were submitted to the most difficult test of all, the one of the real users; happy for us, the feedback we had from over 60 users who tested various user journeys exceeded our expectations; still we had some unexpected surprises—some did not see the compare product link although it respected Nielsen’s best practice recommendations; Roxana, our least technical persona was able to use the slot machine without any help.
If you want to find out all the details read Redesigning Cosmote.ro story published on Grapefruit website.
The new cosmote.ro was launched and with it came the big news: Deustche Telekom will enter the market and cosmote.ro and romtelecom.ro will join forces under Telekom brand. So, the new Magenta chapter opened with a newly reorganized Client team and a tight deadline to meet.
In case you've missed Grapefruit's presentation at WIAD2015 Bucharest, read Designing Telekom.ro article published on their website.
Designing the Telekom MyAccount App is the third chapter on this story, followed by one the most innovative rebranding media campaign in the past years of advertising industry in Romania.
This project was the second ATG implementation within Deutsche Telekom group… happy to say that even today it still is the most successful one. If I were to pick only single value that all these amazing people who made this project happen had in common, this would definitely be passion.
KUDOS and a big THANK YOU for to my ex-colleagues at Grapefruit—Elena Jigaila, Anca Teletin, Andreea Marinciu, Alecsandru Grigoriu, Ciprian Boiciuc, Marius Ursache, Alexandru Cahnita, Eddie Vlagea, George Pogorelschi and the awesome team at Cosmote & Romtelecom (now Telekom)—Elena Dragoi, Madalina Gheorghiu, Amy Paris, Adriana Tarba, Edina Constatinescu, Yannis Kapsoulakis, Dragos Florescu, Bogdan Jelescu, Adina Balaban, Gabi Iacob and Stefan Anghel… without you this true story wouldn’t have happened. You made this journey amazing!
World IA Day stories @Bucharest
For more stories on information architecture, content strategy and great case studies shared at World Information Architecture Day in Bucharest, click on the following links: