To digitalise a workflow, the first thing was to understand how it worked offline. I interviewed account managers and the sales team to walk through their selling process. The presence of product owner in these sessions helped to leverage the same understanding of the pain-points and customer needs. And now customer voices became louder as I had a strong advocator ally.
Do you have this data? How can I get it? How much is it?
From our research, these were the most common questions customers asked.
I reviewed the findings with the content management team, prioritising new content to be written where required.
People typically have two types of information gathering strategies: browsing and searching. Collaborating with a visual designer on the whiteboard, we drew and iterated on divergent solutions to satisfy both needs.
We digitalised the designs in Sketch and shared with subject matter experts and account managers who worked very closely with the end-users. From feedback, we determined the search experience was more intuitive and better-fit with customers' circumstances. In a financial practitioners point of view, every minute counts. They had a concrete idea on what they want and do not spend time browsing. This hypothesis was later confirmed by user research.
After confirming the strategy, I sketched out the whole user journey and focused on the detailed element on each webpage. This helps me to understand where the customer might land on from search engine, and where the customers can continue the journey to find specific details.
Now it's time to validate the design, visual designer and myself created an interactive prototype in Invision. To minimise bias, I worked with an external research agency to formulate the research questions. They interviewed 20 customers from around the globe, both existing and prospective, in job roles that fit with our key customer persona. End-users such as traders wanted to see how data worked, market data managers were concerned with infrastructure and decision makers cared most about price.
The Refinitiv ecosystem is split into different portals by customer role. I put on my road builder hat to create highways to join the dots and direct customers to find their answers. Apart from page content and interaction, this signage piece was key to validate.
In general, the customer research confirmed that the interaction was intuitive and information was useful. They were eager to contact sales to learn more.
It also proved some of our hypotheses wrong. Customers did not like the description on the card, instead preferring to see Refinitiv's offering at a glance. Compared to other e-commence websites, which consist of appealing images and flattering descriptions, our customers wanted concise data schemas and expressed the desire to test directly.
The "Show not tell" strategy achieved the first step of discovery but it required stronger content in evaluation. I reviewed the feedback with the business, refined the design and raised new content requirements.
The blueprint was finished, the actual build work started. I worked with solution and information architects, the financial content management team and SEO experts to design the backend solution.
To entice customers and optimise search engine rankings, information must be well-structured and easy-to-understand by both human and machine. The content we crafted was not only the page copy, but also taxonomy, metadata (keywords, synonyms, tags) and code.
Google is not going to crawl this.
One day our SEO expert commented on the sprint review. We all panicked. How would customers find us?
The whole team immediately gathered together, sketched and explored options, discussed every few hours to see if something could solve the issue quickly. I discussed the content requirement with SEO experts and provided few design options on how to remedy the poor rendering.
In the end, we agreed to develop two static content sections using existing components to describe benefits and sub-categories. This approach not only resolved the technical issues for search engines, it also provided more information and routes for customers that might interested to explore more.
The development work is almost finished and the project has been reviewed by stakeholders. Overall, the feedback has been positive and they were amazed by the achievement in such a short period of time. After another round of customer usability testing, it was launched in Q1 2020.
Only high-level descriptions of the financial data was available and its format was inconsistent. It took time to validate which information impacts customers and how to highlight important content. To alleviate this, I partnered with marketing team to create content guidelines to instruct content managers on how the brand wanted to communicate.
Unlike groceries or clothing, financial data concepts are complicated. Additionally, data is multidimensional that it can be viewed from a high-level overview, to detailed data schemas depending on the customer role. The design had to be flexible to accommodate this.
How might we balance the customer needs to evaluate data and the business needs on protecting content from competitors? There was a constant negotiation on how much we could show on the unauthenticated site.
The content creation is still a work in progress. We have designed a flexible authoring template to allow content owners to adjust components based on content availability.
Customers had negative feelings and critiqued the effectiveness of recommendation on an unauthenticated site. Financial practitioners often work in a niche fields and found the recommendations to be off-topic. We removed this sorting mechanism until the authenticated experience is in place.
Search is about the metadata, headers, description, tags, keywords, site structure, URL and page index. I learnt a lot about creating better a search experience in Adobe Search, Promote and Database via insights from Adobe Analytics and Google Analytics.
Every team owned a small piece of the puzzle. To hold different pieces together, the project relied heavily on cross-collaboration, meeting notes and progress tracking. The product owner and myself were called the data catalogue twins because we were together for every meeting even in different office locations. I thoroughly enjoyed working on this project with an amazing team.