Pepper is a holding which has several platforms around the world, one of which is Hotukdeals. These platforms each bring together a large community of users to share interesting deals and rank them. Hotukdeals has over 2.4 million users to date.
I have been working with the product team since January 2020 as a Product Designer. My missions were mainly focused on supporting the key objectives of the company, from acquisition to SEO. I was also able to take part in the creation of the platform’s Design System, continuously maintaining and improving it.
Case study : Buyer’s guides
Hotukdeals is a platform where a lot of information is exchanged between users every day, either through discussions or comments under the deals. Unfortunately, once this information is shared and replaced by newer ones, it is quite difficult for a new user to find it later.
Another goal of Hotukdeals is the acquisition of new users using the almighty organic traffic, which is one of the biggest sources of traffic for the platform. How might we convert this traffic into new users?
The buyer’s guides try to provide a solution to these two distinct objectives:
By gathering this “lost” information within an article, they allow users to easily find and share it through the platform. It is also now possible for a new user to discover Hotukdeals via the guides, from Google.
How might we find out how users seek information online in order to save money purchasing services/products and which are their favorite channels in that matter?
We were already aware, from earlier research within the team, of the overall user journey of a target user’s purchase decision, from the product idea to the actual purchase decision. But this remained at a rather high scale, not allowing me to properly judge the problem
The objective of this new survey is therefore twofold; first to learn more about the search habits of target users, but also to collect useful references for the design of the new functionality, in order to measure the presence of mental models within this target audience.
- Which type of users to recruit?
It was important to recruit participants who were not familiar with the platform, in order to be in line with the target group of the guides, which must mainly consist of new users. They are between 25 and 45 years old and also regularly shop online.
- What do semi-structured interviews consist of?
These interviews, as I conducted them, consisted of two stages:
The first one where I asked the participants about their last online shopping experience where they were able to save money: the scenario, the tools they used but also the process they encountered. Following the methodology of semi-structured interviews, the script was not strict: depending on the participant, sometimes much more reminders or redirections were needed than others.
The second was to confirm the results of the first: I asked participants to imagine having to change their mobile operator, their energy service or a particular service/product, and to show me their process while sharing their screen.
Analysis via tagging and the Dovetail tool
The interviews’ analysis is one of the most important steps in the research process. Using the (brilliant) tool Dovetail, the analysis of the raw data from the interviews is done through the process of thematic analysis (a well known analysis method to identify common themes from qualitative input, requiring to first immerse oneself in the data)
Some brief results :
Some features are essential for easy content consumption
Table of contents, 'more and less'... Some features are enjoyed by users for the help they give
Certain types of users are not likely to read the guides
These interviews have highlighted certain users who will not be reached through those guides because of their narrow journey
Major weaknesses of competitors
Omnipresence of ads, too much plain text, autoplay content... I was able to identify examples that should not be reproduced.
Topics and reference platforms
Check24, Moneysavingexperts and Giga.de are some references. Typical SEO-oriented websites are easily recognisable for expert users
When some of the objectives of a project are acquisition or SEO, there are certain unspoken standards that allow a platform to compete best with its rivals. Design is no exception to this logic, which is why benchmarking the competition is a crucial step in the design process. But apart from SEO issues, benchmarking is a way to get inspired, to evaluate the norm and the mental models of our target users. That’s why I’ve evaluated more than ten different guides: Backmarket, Moneysavingexperts and Pricerunner are some examples.
The result of this analysis was a set of functionalities and interface design characteristics specific to this type of editorial content. Alongside the interviews, future improvements to the shopping guides became obvious to me, as did the desire to highlight Hotukdeals’ strength, namely its deals.
Article - guide
For the sake of design consistency and ease of development, we decided to reuse the basic typography and design of the platform’s content. However, I wanted to make some changes to the layout and typography to improve the readability of the whole. In particular, there are some graphic rules to respect regarding the editorial web pages:
- A fairly short container width, in parallel with a rather large font size, to avoid too long sentences and improve readability;
- A high line height, generally around 160%, in order to make text-rich paragraphs more harmonious.
An example online here
I also needed to design a page that could list the guides, which would allow them to be accessible not only via Google and its potential new users, but also through the platform itself and its current users.
First of all, I had to create a “card”, based on the model of libraries like Material Design, so that the two most important elements in order to recognize the guide’s theme are highlighted: the title and the image.
In order to draw the user to the most recent guide, I decided to have a larger version of the basic card developed, still focusing on the most important elements for understanding the topic.
Putting the two elements together, the final result can also be seen here. A categorisation of the guides is under development, which will allow the numerous guides to be ordered by theme and thus facilitate the search.
How to ensure the correct naming of the functionality?
Alongside the interface design, we had to find a name that would be both understandable to users and suitable for editorial staff, for the German, French and English platforms. My product manager and I decided to proceed in three steps:
- A thorough benchmark of competing or similar platforms to create a shortlist of potential names
- Internal research: We presented this shortlist to stakeholders, who expressed their needs and preferences.
- sA user survey: We asked our users which of the two preferred names is the most appropriate. Let’s look at the survey itself:
The aim was to understand whether our naming proposals were clear enough to our users and which one would be the most appropriate. From the previous steps came two alternatives per country: Guides or Buyer’s guides in French, Guides or Buyer’s guides in English, Ratgeber or Magazin in German.
Two surveys corresponding to the two country proposals were submitted to about 100 users each.
- We are working on a new section called “Guides” / “Buyer’s guides”. Based on this name, what do you expect from this section? What information do you expect to find in a “guide”?
- Our “Guide” includes information that aims to help users with their purchases, such as tutorials, product news… Do you think the name “Guide” fits this section?
- If you had to name it differently, what would you name this section?
An interesting finding from the survey analysis was that many users thought they would expect an FAQ if the feature were to be called “Guides”. For example, one user wrote “Explanations on how the site works, alerts, messaging…etc”. This observation allowed us to choose the name “Buyer’s Guides” with full knowledge of the facts.
More broadly, I would say that a user survey can, as in this example, help to resolve an impasse arising from the impossibility of deciding between several divergent opinions of stakeholders. Guaranteeing the user’s opinion gives greater legitimacy and weight in the decision-making process.