Bauer-Media is one of the leaders in the Australian magazine market. I came on board as the company started to shift its focus from print to digital. The strategy was to create a new network of sites. This transition was a huge step forward and a significant change in the history of Bauer, where digital has never been a priority. It wasn’t about catching up to the competition but about creating a first-class network experience that would generate significant revenues to secure a sustainable future.
I worked on the UX design of the following responsive Websites which represent the core of the ‘To Love’ network:
The ‘To Love’ network targets mass Australian women aged 25 to 65 years. A few months before I joined the company, an external strategic agency (S&C) spent several weeks meeting with over 50 women around Australia to understand their needs, motivations and emotions, as well as their digital aspirations. The outcome was a digital strategy recommending the creation of an online network for Australian women.
Different sites mean different budgets, timeframes and constraints; hence different UX approaches. I’ve listed below the main pillars of my UX approach.
– S&C research output: to begin with, I used the quantitative and qualitative findings to understand the target audience.
S&C strategic report – Women’s modes of interaction
– Online surveys: I ran a couple of surveys in order to learn more about our existing users. I collected some essential information such as demographics, habits, goals and pain points.
Online survey for The Australian Women’s Weekly site
– Google Analytics: I explored data for our existing sites, including navigation flows and behaviours.
: the data team gave me access to a new tracking tool called Hotjar
. Basically, it allows tracking of user behaviour on screen, such as scroll on page and click zones.
– Card sorting
: I ran an online card sorting exercise using Optimal Workshop
to help me define the main information architecture for one of the Websites. I choose to do it online over face-to-face interviews in order to reach a bigger number of participants and get results in a short period of time.
Card sorting exercise for the Homes To Love site
The next step was to organise internal workshops with the primary Bauer stakeholders. I summarised all of the above information into several ‘Data packs’, in order to give the workshop participants information to skim through during the session. The idea was to have easily accessible data that would help us design personas and user journeys.
Extract of a ‘Data pack’ for one of the workshops
This was an essential piece of work to ensure the success of the projects. The main objectives of these workshops were:
– Stakeholder engagement: the ‘To Love’ network involved many print stakeholders with a limited knowledge of the digital world. It was crucial for them to understand the design process and to be onboard with it. Some of the workshop participants included several magazines’ Editor in Chief, Head of Research, Head of Product Mass Women, etc. The CEO of Bauer Media Australia joined us for the last workshop, which was a pleasant surprise and reinforced the importance of the whole program for everyone.
– Create essential UX outputs:
personas, user journeys and first sketches in order to create a Product Canvas
– Generate some content ideas: and make sure they were aligned with the S&C recommendations.
Workshop – Creating a user journey
Workshop – Content ideas generation for The Australian Women’s Weekly site
First of all, I built a workshop plan. There was a lot to cover. With more than 7 hours of workshop per product, I had to run 3 separate workshops per product.
I caught up with each of the stakeholders beforehand. I needed to get their buy-in before the workshop to make sure they understand why we were doing it and the value they would bring.
I conducted 6 workshops in total.
Workshop – Content ideas generation for Woman’s Day site
Workshop – Collaborative sketching
- Communicating the results to the wider team
Getting valuable outcome from the workshop is one thing, but making sure those outcomes are shared and understood by all of the people involved in these projects is another. I wanted to share the results in an easily accessible and understandable form. Since stakeholders were located in two different buildings I decided to use Mural.ly
to share a digital version of the Product Canvas:
Workshop output – Product Canvas on Mural.ly
I worked with a visual designer to create Personas posters:
Workshop output – Designed Personas
I also did the same for the user journeys. The idea was to make it very visual, with an emotional graph and a storyboard to draw people’s attention and convey the message better:
Workshop output – User journey sketching
Workshop output – User journey design, based on the sketching above
I printed all the above and hung it on the ‘War room’ wall.
Lastly, I was presenting the outcomes on a regular basis during the ‘Sprint showcases’.
Before moving to the wireframes / prototype stage, I usually ran a second phase of collaborative sketching with a smaller group that included the Visual designer, the Product manager and where possible, a Developer. We were basically reusing ideas from the workshop sketches and taking them a step further.
Sketches for the Homes To Love site
I built several interactive prototypes using Axure. It was essential to show the stakeholders how things could potentially work, in terms of animations and interactions. It was also crucial to have these available for the user testing sessions.
Axure prototype – Woman’s Day
Axure prototype – ‘Photo Gallery’, to be used across the network
- Testing, Testing and Testing
I conducted two rounds of user testing per Product, on mobile, tablet and desktop.
Testing with over 30 users in total
User testing room
- Iterations with Visual Designers and Developers
The biggest challenge was to make sure UX and Design were involved at every step of the process. Sitting on the same floor meant we could catch up on a daily basis. As we worked on those projects, our agility and flexibility increased. We made sure we discussed ways of improving the way we worked throughout the project. The mindset of the people you work with is also key, because at the end of the day, it’s easier to stay at your desk and make assumptions/hope for the best instead of standing up and go and talk to the relevant person.
We eventually found an optimal way to work that involved the daily catch ups and impromptu sketching session to solve problems.
The Australian Women’s Weekly, Woman’s Day and Food To Love sites were launched at the end of April 2015. Homes To Love was launched early August 2015.
I have to say I feel lucky that I worked with such talented people building a network of Websites from scratch. It’s truly a combined effort of all the teams that insured an outcome of that quality.