A detailed and multi-faceted project to redesign the National Trust online shop whilst adhering to their strong brand identity.
In a project which included discovery, user testing, design sprints and prototyping, we worked with National Trust to give their customers an experiential online shopping experience which integrated seamlessly into the rest of their site.
National Trust came to us with a clear brief - to increase the number of sales and value of average orders made through their online shop whilst improving usability and clearly reflecting their brand. As a large organisation, it came as no surprise that there were a number of senior stakeholders each with different expectations for the project and so, we worked openly and collaboratively with them to make sure that what we produced was in line with their own business objectives.
The integration of the shop into the core of National Trust's digital strategy meant that a multi-faceted approach to user research was not only vital to the success of this project, but provided valuable insight into future developments
This was a large, complicated project with senior key stakeholders from all over the business including the Heads of Digital, Content and Retail Online. To achieve something which hit all of their objectives was key. Our agile way of working ensures that we always take a methodical and staged approach to our work and with a complex project like this, it works perfectly.
The National Trust online shop sells a lot of different products, from picnic blankets and biscuits to jewellery and even sheds. We needed to create an experience for their shoppers, with storytelling, strong visuals and a smooth check out process to boot. The end template includes modules which can be selected to allow for more content and backstory for items of specific interest.
It needed to integrate into the main National Trust site in line with their digital strategy
In collaboration with The Pixel and Phoenix Wharf, partner agencies specialising in ecommerce development and brand design, we worked to move the existing online shop away from the unsupported platform it was originally built on, and onto a new eCommerce platform Magento 2. We knew that it needed to integrate into the main National Trust site in line with their digital strategy and whilst this provided some design challenges, we were able to work around them to put users first.
The very top navigation on the National Trust website links users to various sections of the site such as properties, days out and holidays. The shop is built and hosted externally which means that historically, it has sat underneath this top navigation. This was a challenge on the design front and after some consideration, we decided not to make the shop basket available sitewide as it could potentially cause confusion within sections where a basket doesn't exist but potentially could in the future (eg holidays and membership). We needed to consider the users journey first and foremost and this led to some design challenges which required a good deal of thought. The end result, incorporating the shopping basket into a second level navigation, works better than we expected , allowing the customer to move between the two sites seamlessly and completely unaware.
We started the project with a kick off meeting followed immediately by user testing to determine what it was that customers liked and disliked about the current online shop. By speaking directly to the end user we were also able to understand which elements of the current online shop were already working well (and why) and we kept those as part of the new design.
We also interrogated their web analytics and worked with National Trust team themselves to map a number of different customer journeys depending on the products being bought, from small items through to big ticket purchases.
Following this wide reaching discovery phase, we worked through five Lean UX sprints incorporating three rounds of user testing as well as further testing to ensure we were getting the balance between commerce and a brand experience right. This meant working on the content structure and organisation of the site as well as the page layouts and shopping and check out sections.
During the sprints, we conducted two rounds of tree testing on our proposed information architecture. This is a great way to measure how well users can navigate and understand the structure, confirming that
a) we’re headed in the right direction or
b) tweaks are required.
By keeping the client fully informed and actively involved in the process, we are able to reduce wasted time and potential anxiety by delivering what they want first time around.
Adam and his team from NI lead and managed a series of Lean UX sprints for us. In these, they delivered a fully user tested, feature rich prototype ready for development.
We made the choice of agency after an extensive RFI/RFP process where Natural Interaction and their associated agencies shone with their general helpfulness and understanding of the subject matter. We're very pleased with the progress.
The new online shop has just launched and so, we are waiting for results.
However, we’re confident that conversion will increase with sales of biscuits, cushions and of course, sheds helping fund the vital work the Trust does.