One of the hallmark benefits of being a Demandware client is the myriad opportunities we offer for retailers to leverage the collective wisdom of their peers. That extends to Demandware, where we actively involve our retailer clients to influence and inform product development.

How do we master complexity through user experience design? How do ideas become sketches, sketches become interactive prototypes and prototypes become live code in Demandware products?

Here’s a sneak peek at one development.

At last year’s North America XChange Conference, the Demandware User Experience team tested an experimental design of the Business Manager Catalog module, which is fundamental to defining the structure of the storefront and merchandising products. It is complex and loaded with functionality that merchandisers use on a daily basis to manage products and categories.

We took apart this functionality to simplify it and improve merchant productivity by researching users’ needs, pain points, and the context of their overall workflow including what tasks they needed to accomplish. Over the course of the year, our research involved working with 17 Demandware clients, conducting many interviews, running over 20 user testing sessions, and iterating on the design with multiple prototypes.

For example, prior to XChange, we had a few merchandisers test the initial wireframes and provide feedback. We also received insights from our Retail Practice team on how clients use this module in real-world situations. At the conference, we met more merchandisers who joined our user panel to test the prototype. We observed them using it to complete their daily tasks and listened to what they found useful and troublesome.

Through this, we concluded that merchandisers needed to access more information on the products. Digging deeper, we conducted one-on-one interviews with the merchandising teams, learning about the specific product information they needed and observed how they used the Business Manager to perform their tasks and the context of their workflow. The interviews helped us identify specific user pain points and needs while merchandising.

We discovered that users had to click up to 17 times in the application to collect enough information to merchandise a single product! Clearly, this is needlessly time-consuming, and not scalable when multiple products have to be merchandised, which is often the case.

We refined the prototype further; this time collaborating with the UI Development Team. We then decided to switch to a live prototype implementation with real data to further validate, prior to actual development. The user testing validated the usability of new design, and confirmed that the new design increased merchandisers’ productivity and empowered them to accomplish more in less time. We are working closely with product management and engineering teams on the implementation of the new catalogs design, which is targeted for release this summer.

While our clients work hard to curate the shopper’s experience on the digital storefront, we are working to optimize our clients’ experience on our platform. At the XChange Conference in Miami, we will demo the revamped Catalogs module in the Business Manager. The process has helped us develop patterns of interaction that we plan to replicate in order to improve efficiency in other parts of the product.

We hope to see you at the User Experience booth at XChange.