Capstone Case Study
When I first started working at Furniture Row, one thing became immediately apparent; the computer system was not user-friendly. The over-complex system failed in many aspects, and the longer I worked on it, the more I knew something had to change. While there were many problems, the main problem that I noticed was that sales associates working full time have a hard time selling enough furniture to make a commission.
While the Capstone class itself is only ten weeks, I was fortunate to have a lot more time interviewing employees and becoming familiar with the current system casually. I encouraged them to come to me with their frustrations, so I was prepared to develop solutions in the new system.
Starting in January, I started doing research that included competitive analysis. I also did a risk analysis, identified target users, and identified the desired outcomes. I knew that the target users would be Sales associates, Managers, Visual Merchandisers, and Warehouse Personnel. These were relatively easy to identify because I knew that this project would be performed only by people currently employed through Furniture Row and working directly in the store. The desired outcome I identified was to Increase sales through streamlining the process, increase customer satisfaction by creating confidence in the sales process, and create efficiency to open the manager's time to be more present on the sales floor.
My first step to bringing the project to life was to survey current employees. This survey consisted of 9 questions and took an average time of 9 minutes to complete. I wanted to know their main frustration points and what they thought would make their lives easier. Thanks to these surveys, I ascertained that the average invoice could take upwards of 20 minutes to complete, a sales associate spends at least 50% of their day on the current system, and that the transition time was a real sticking point for sales. To fully visualize the data from my surveys, I decided to converted the data into a value map. It was beneficial to see all the ideas and evaluate the most helpful based on effort.
After The participants completed my survey, I still had to figure out what kind of system to use for my project. Accessibility was important since sales associates often work with customers in many different store areas at once. It also seemed crucial to have a system that Staff could use even in a power outage. I initially thought about creating it as an iPad app but decided against it after a sales associate discussed how cumbersome the iPads were to carry around for 10 hours a day. After contemplating this discussion, I ultimately decided on designing a website.
Creating my user persona was easy for this project because I knew that I wanted to focus on a Sales Manager's perspective. They can have a challenging job. Not only do they have to accomplish all the things that a sales associate does in a day, but they also have a full slate of management responsibilities that they need to accomplish throughout the day as well. That's how I came up with Brian. He is a 23 year old first time manager who has worked for the company for nine months. For his user journey, I took a look at the average day in the life as a sales manager, juggling both sales and management duties.
It was vital for me to visualize where each element was going to land on the site before I started working too profoundly on my wireframes, so I created a whimsical site map. The next step was to start visualizing the design itself. I find it particularly beneficial to draw out paper wireframes before heading onto the computer. Doing this allows me to understand the structure without distractions, and it makes it easier to put it on the screen.
While creating the Visual Design for a project usually comes relatively easy, I found this project particularly difficult. I struggled with the two conflicting ideas between the company and the product being offered. Furniture shopping and interior design tend to be very feminine, but Furniture Row is a very masculine learning company. I wanted to play both, and I leaned very heavily on researching various inspirations photos. I originally decided to do a design that played off of pink and dark blue, but upon seeing it on the design I f found it to be too girly. I then decided to switch to a blue and soft green combination. This look was a better softer option that played better with the design as a whole.
With my visual design figured out, I was finally ready to bring the design in Adobe XD. I created each screen first and then went through and added the additional elements one at a time to make the steps clickable so it would become a complete prototype. I performed user test between two separate groups, people that currently work for the company and those who do not. I felt like this was important so I could evaluate and make sure that the website works with current employees' mental models and those who have never had access to the old system. After my first round of tests I was able to identify small changes that needed to be made. I reduced some of the font sizes on the scene because it was making the design look clunky. I also had to add some change a few of the steps in the tag printing screen to make the hierarchy more understandable. I also found that people who were not currently working for Furniture Row had an easier time using the new system than those who were currently employed with the company. After completing the tasks however, everyone said that they felt that they would be able to easily complete the tasks in the future.
In the future, I want to continue working on this project. There are many features outside the scope and timeline of this specific project that would still need to be developed to make the website functional to all employees. To make this happen, I would need to start by conducting interviews with people in various other job titles. From there, my ultimate goal is to have my design purchased by Furniture Row so they can implement it into their stores as their new sales system.