Reinventing how people do business in their neighborhoods and across the globe.

Background

Businesses are as individual as the people who pursue their passions in them. Rather than just building a "pro gestault" that repainted Amazon's consumer site, we visited our customers, listened to their needs, and laid the groundwork for what is rapidly becoming the most disruptive force in the Business to Business market.

To demonstrate how we did this, I'll cover how we've helped Mark*, owner of Sebastian's Cafe*, get back to his passion - his regulars.

Most of my work is covered by non-disclosure agreements (NDA). What I am sharing is just the tip of the iceberg.

This story focuses on the gateway. Other projects I led include:

  • Bulk shipments
  • Bulk cart
  • Contact us
  • Marketing pages
  • Shop by department
  • Detail pages
  • Live Expert
  • Search results
  • Scheduled delivery
  • Business selection

Northstar strategy, global strategy, UX pattern standardization, styleguide creation, creative direction, CSS, prototyping

My Role

As Senior UX Designer, I worked with teams of visual designers, UX designers, researchers, and writers across Amazon. I developed pattern guidelines, detailed solution documentation, and worked extensively with development teams to iterate and launch core features.

To facilitate these efforts, I created "Blue-Sky" hackathons, managed company-wide advanced Axure classes, and helped evolve Amazon's Human Interface Guidelines (HIG) and Business Interface Guidelines (BIG).

Meet Mark

"I love people - that's why I'm here."

Mark's family built their restaurant on Seattle's Alki Beach for their neighbors. Today, it's a bustling hub frequented by Seattle's fearsome Sea Fair pirates each year.

Mark is proud of his kitchen. It's a stainless-steel masterpiece where he and his brother enjoy chiding each other while trading jokes with regulars. With limited storage, he relies on frequent deliveries of olives, spices, and even his coasters. "I trust these brands." he asserts, "If I substitute anything, the regulars call me out on it."

"What chafes me," he moans, "is ordering stuff. Sure, it's a family business, but I'm stuck ordering. I love my brother, but he buys too much and it spoils. I have to do it myself."

Mapping Mark's experience

Using the insights gained from visiting Mark and others, combined with insights gained looking at suspected business customers on Amazon.com, we created customer journey maps, which included:

  • Light-weight personas (based on role and business infrastructure)
  • A timeline with variable phases (awareness, decision-making, purchasing, inventory management / replenishment, returns)
  • Emotion tracking (satisfaction, confusion, happiness, anxiety)
  • Touch points (website, delivery, restocking, calling manufacturer)
  • Channels (where interaction occurs - website, mobile device, spreadsheet, stickies)
  • Moments of truth (moments of delight where known pain-points in industry are eliminated)
  • Supporting characters (individuals who contribute to the story, such as Mark's brother, or the Manufacturer rep)

Creating the North Star

Defining a 3-year vision requires investment from those who will own it.

With a team of developers, designers, product managers, account managers, lawyers, and customer service, we laid out the goals, motivators, needs, and challenges expressed by Mark and others as a whitepaper. We then prioritized our customers' goals and challenges.

To help Mark get back to his passions, we utilized a series of design swarms. Many solutions were so disruptive, they've since been patented. However, the timeline to implement them necessitated short-term solutions that could serve Mark and others immediately.

For brevity, I'll focus on how we made the gateway more relevant to Mark and other business customers.

Team involved

During this effort, my team included 2 UX designers, 1 visual designer and 1 UX researcher.

Timeline & Resources

From start to finish, we had less than 9 months to create a business experience on Amazon, a daunting challenge, as this new effort would span the entire Amazon landscape.

5 development teams and 16 managers were needed to bring the business experience to our customers.

Research

With our researcher, we defined a series of behaviors rather than rigid personas. These were gained from site visits, phone interviews, and analyses of the behaviors of suspected business customers on Amazon.

Designing a business gateway

It's not branding. It's content that tells the user where they are.

Initial concepts for the gateway focused on rebranding. From conversations with Mark and others, it was evident the gateway had to behave differently, less as a store, and more as a tool. As our researcher, Paul Jaye often said, "They want to feel smarter for having used it."

To help partner teams realize the business vision, we invited them to a series of brainstorms, where we gave them customer feedback and usage data and used the findings to mark up printed copies of the gateway, asking everyone to highlight relevant features and cross out everything else (see at right).

Nearly everyone, even those responsible for some of the more controversial features, suggested a redesign focused on replenishment.

Results

Later, when "Buy it Again" was featured prominently on the gateway (as suggested by our Northstar effort), repeat sales increased by over 20%, resulting in the current gateway iteration.

markup of business vs. consumer gateways for prioritization

Iterate, review, iterate, test, repeat...

Finding true north, even while navigating the forest.

With our Northstar direction defined, we created the first phase of the gateway and global navigation. To keep the process agile, we relied on sketches and low-fidelity mocks for most rounds:

Round 1
First 10-15 iterations were high-level function blockings
Round 2
Selected round 1 iterations were extended with developer call-outs for scoping and cost-analysis
Round 3
Selected round 2 iterations were drafted as wireframes, reviewed by stakeholders, and tested with customers
Round 4
The selected round 3 concept was translated to hi-fidelity mocks, documenting marketing, layout, and timing tweaks. Where necessary, interactive Axure mocks were used.
Redline markups for Amazon Business header

It's not perfect, it's better.

And we're smarter for it.

The current Amazon Business gateway balances our future vision and what we can accomplish today. With each customer interaction, our hypotheses and biases are challenged.

Future iterative rounds are bringing radical changes, and incrementally, we are helping Mark, and others like him, get back to their passions.

Amazon Business gateway