During the second quarter of 2013 WoodStock Electronics Nigeria Ltd (WSE) started a conversation with us about building capacity for a service led eCommerce start-up; an audio-visual and IT distribution company called Tradecounter.ng. Operationally it would leverage WSE’s existing technical and service capability. The service will be targeted at an audience of registered dealers, corporate, institutional and individual users across West Africa – primarily Nigeria and Ghana.
By third quarter 2013, we began working with the small team at Tradecounter.ng to map out a ‘path to purchase journey’ for its West Africa market place. We collaborated on, mocked up and tested a ‘path to purchase journey’ in order to define the project’s experiential, service delivery and business model.
Our colleagues at Tradecounter.ng provided us with responses regarding a path to purchase-journey map we created. We transitioned to a path to purchase experience, from the map. Consequently we kept interrogating key service drivers that determine what perceived value means for dealers, identity verification issues, dealer trainees, in-house product range management, logistics of distribution across West Africa and relationships with an international supply chain. We also used this as an ongoing opportunity to exchange know-how on how to manage the site from a service delivery perspective. This project stalled for a year due to structural issues on the ground. We picked up speed in 2015.
UX audit and digital service design standards
Once we were aligned on the service and business goals of the platform, we performed an audit relative to local competitors’ sites and international benchmarks. Through a user experience audit of bench-mark sites, we established a feature and functionality matrix that aligned with a defined content hierarchy, product categorisation and service information architecture.
We placed an emphasis on developing a service experience design direction, first. Setting a design language informed by qualities from a minimum viable digital style guide we had created to support a holding online space. It was designed for adaptation to any interactive touch-point. It was also important that we had initially defined a digital Identity guide that would feel coherent in the minds of customers, when adapted across multiple media formats.
At the time we had just created a digital Identity guide to explore various options that can be used to showcase and prototype a service oriented on-line presence. The outcome was a minimum viable design language referencing typography and minimalist design, to humanise a service driven audio-visual and IT systems business.
We sought to support goals of making the site transactional in a way that is set up for Tradecounter.ng to integrate product photography, specifications and stories sourced from supplier brands smoothly; a functional aesthetic. We paired this functional aesthetic, for example, with interactive design whilst streamlining the user flow to make product accessible, promote training services and make accessible an industry events calender.
Secondly, we determined that we would build the site within a responsive framework to accommodate new devices and a variety of form factors. To be creative we drew on multi-disciplinary skills and perspectives which involved several Skype improvisation sessions. These sessions were underpinned by ideas-exchange spanning London, Lahore, Lagos and usability testing protocols by ‘User-Testing’ in the US.
We paid attention to components of the platform’s eCommerce structure and smooth transaction drivers. An example is a product tile layout is set out for a mouse track or finger swipe down each page’s entirety. These allows registered users to view available product options, see discounted or product/s on sale and add the product/s to their cart as they become more educated on its features and benefits. We were in re-iteration mode within reason, in order to respond to issues we could not be certain about until we stress tested the product live. For example we used open source applications to develop and test micro-features such as shipping protocols to suit the character of the operating environment, on the fly.
The platform continues to be at beta phase with ongoing marketing investment and in-house development work at Tradecounter Nigeria Ltd, in response to customer reaction.
Project Team: UX Research & Design - Ayodeji Alaka, UX Mapping and Documentation - Adam Benjamin, Backend Development and Training - Yumna Tatheer, Digital Product Designer - Phil Smith, Design Review - Angela Lyons, Insights into customer and dealer community behaviour - Collaboration with In-house team at Tradecounter Nigeria Ltd.