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Case Study: Techpilot

Techpilot is an online marketplace for custom-made industrial parts, where buyers find suitable suppliers by either searching a supplier database or by using an RFQ (request for quotation), in which buyers describe their specific needs and upload their technical drawings while suppliers can send out quotes, if they are interested in the job.

I met Techpilot initially in 2008 for a small "redesign" project on their homepage, which then turned out to become a several year long relationship in which I could implement many ideas and methods from my UX toolbox to enhance the overall experience. In this case study I will focus on a release from late 2015, in which we had mainly 3 goals to accomplish:

Goal:
Increase rate of Requests for quotation (RFQ)

The classic process of filing out a marketplace request had a noteworthy amount of abandonment rates. How could this be analyzed and improved?

Goal:
Increase Findablity of supplier profiles

The access to finding suppliers was solely based on technology terms and therefore results could easily get blurry if buyers weren't sure about those details.

Goal:
Optimize Product and communication Consistency

After years of organic growth, userfacing communication and interaction patterns partially lacked consistency, so it was time to streamline things around basic rules.

 

1. Research

 

General: Understanding buyers


At first we needed to get a detailed look on the buyer's world and their needs when it comes to establishing new supplier contacts. The commonly shared prejudice, that buyers are looking for the cheapest suppliers in the market became shortly outdated. We needed to get answers to questions like:

- what are the structural setups of purchasing departments?
- what's the situation like when having to find new suppliers?
- how do buyers find suppliers in general?
- how much does a buyer know about specific technologies?
- what qualities are they looking for in a supplier (if not price)
... and many more

General: Understanding suppliers


To get the full picture of the market we were operating in, we would have to understand both sides. And even there was already a remarkable amount of knowledge about buyers and suppliers in the organisation, it helped to make a structured approach to find answers to questions like:

- how do suppliers find and keep clients in general?
- who is responsible for generating new business?
- how is the acceptance of online tools in that segment?
- what is the relationship with buyers/clients like?
- how many technologies do suppliers cover in a supply chain?
... and many more

 

What we did to gain insights

 
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Stakeholder workshop

In this workshop we wanted to find out what knowledge is already inside of the organisation and what can we learn especially from the service department, that is constantly in contact with real users.

 

Competitor Audit

What are competitors doing to solve the challenges that we have? Can we learn anything by looking left and right?

 

Analytics Data

What can we learn from existing data? Which sensors do we need to implement in the interface to learn more about our users?

 

On site interviews

Finally we personally reached out to a number of buyers and suppliers to spend a few hours with them in their companies and to ask detailled and structured questions about the job setup, processes, wishes and needs when doing their business.

 

How we further refined our insights

 

Proto Personas

Finally we personally reached out to a number of buyers and suppliers to spend a few hours with them in their companies and to ask detailled and structured questions about the job setup, processes, wishes and needs when doing their business.

 

Use-Cases & Scenarios

Finally we personally reached out to a number of buyers and suppliers to spend a few hours with them in their companies and to ask detailled and structured questions about the job setup, processes, wishes and needs when doing their business.

 

How we researched for our goals

 

RFQ Process
Interviews & Usability Tests

With structured remote usability tests and interviews on the existing process we gained many insights about the direction we should head to with our new solutions.

Finding supPliers
Interviews & Usability Tests

Again we focussed on asking real buyers about the existing process in interviews and furthermore watched them trying to find suppliers in remote usability tests.

Product Consistency
Content Audit

To get the right perspective and scope of the project we created an inventory of pages and identified content and functionality goals of each page.

 

2. Design

 

After evaluating the data from the research phase and agreeing to do an overall visual rebrush of the site, the design-phase was planned in several stages:

Information Architecture (IA)

What does the general sitemap look like and where do we attach our new design ideas?

Interaction Design (ixD)

How shall the new site be navigated and what are the new IxD principles that lead to a consistent experience?

Visual Design

How do the new pages look like and how will they resonate with real users?

Deliverables:
- sitemaps
- user flows
- page directory

Deliverables:
- wireframes
- Lo-Fi HTML Prototypes (Axure)
 

Deliverables:
- screendesigns (Sketch)
- Hi-Fi Prototypes (Invision)
- visual style guide

 

The redesign of the RFQ process

What was formerly a quite techy and time consuming 5-step process for buyers, when they filled out a marketplace request, was now enhanced by the newly created "Easy-RFQ", a 1-page request form, that can be filled out in few minutes. We designed first iterations of this solution to test it with real customers and to further sharpen it in terms of content and interaction.


The redesign of Finding suppliers

Where buyers formely looked for suppliers based on a 3-step technology tree, we now designed a free search form and added an additional search wizard for users who still rely on the technology based approach.