Getting crisp on hurdles, both technical and experiential in nature
Apps.com was determined to be a complete reboot, meaning we had a clean slate, but also ran the risk of repeating the mistakes of the past if we did not learn from them.
The pragmatic technical hurdles to learn from
One "must do" aspect of this replatform was the SEO penalty by Google's algorithm for being unfriendly to mobile users. The entire Apps.com property had no mobile features, no responsive features, and the CSS/HTML was generated by an abandoned stack that was unsalvageable.
The path forward chosen by the engineering team was to build Apps.com on a new stack from scratch, keeping the business logic but abandoning the unsupported legacy code. A breath of fresh air because now, we could build the mobile-first, responsive capabilities correctly from the start.
As the most experienced design technologist in the organization, I wanted to offer all the help I could to the engineering team to make sure we baked in what we needed.
The pragmatic user experience hurdles to learn from
There was no customer research or design documentation available on Apps.com usage, and no personas or "Jobs to be Done" to rely on. We had historic knowledge and assumptions, which meant our task was to establish and validate who the customer was and their needs.
Establishing the current state of customer expectations and experiences
The baseline understanding of Apps.com was that it was used by three customer types
- Small business owners looking for integrations to help their work
- Accountants looking for integrations to help their practice
- Developers looking for marketplace platforms to build their integrations
Establishing a new understanding of customer and Job to be Done
Research interviews were conducted with a variety of the presumptive personas, taking the needs, pains, and Jobs to be Done from each and blending into a combined outlook on what the new iteration needs to do.
The core "job" of our customer was summarized as "I am trying to reduce the time needed performing the administrative tasks of my business so I can focus my energy on growth and making more money." The customer does not want to be finding integrations, they want more time.
With that, the research allowed us to arrive on three core experience principles:
- The marketplace should do its best to surface relevant apps using available customer data if they are a QuickBooks user already.
- Looking for solutions is an ad-hoc experience prone to mobile experiences.
- Search and browse fulfill two different motivations and should be optimized for a user who had an idea of what they want (search) or needs to see related information to narrow down (browse).
Competitive analysis of the state of app marketplaces
An evaluation of direct competitors and similar experiences was done, looking for patterns and inspiration. Cursory UX audits of parallel marketplaces were conducted to note what external practices could be adopted and fell within Intuit's expectations for a good customer experience.
Moving forward with solid assumptions
With principles, a baseline Job to be Done, and a snapshot of the state of app & integration marketplaces, we were ready to move to the 2-pronged design and develop parallel phase.