Listening to the user: How to multiply by seven the conversions of a website

Affinity wall to analyse the users feedback

My role

  • Lead the user experience specialist in the digital transformation.
  • Implementing the proper user-centred processes through the company
  • Leading meetings and design workshops with the client and their users.
  • Redesign the website, as part of an agile team.


No-one knows what UX or UCD means

My first challenge was to show what a user-centred design (UCD) approach involved and make them embrace the idea that it was more than ‘re-skinning’ the website.

New owners, new teams, new problems

The ownership change came with a lot of changes and additions on a departmental and management level, as a consequence, the company’s knowledge and its processes were very fragmented and the sources hard to find

All for the user, without the user

The non-digital tradition of the company along with the high-level international profile of the customer made it hard to recruit and plan the user research.

Understanding the business

I organised a kick-off workshop with the management, the goals of the meeting were:

  • Identify the goals and needs of the different departments
  • Surface the potential synergies between departments
  • Expose that a user-centred approach only could happen with all the departments’ involvement
  • Find where the knowledge about the company and its processes lied.
Sketches result of a co-design workshop

Research, research… and more research

There is no user experience without user feedback.

Getting a taste of the users

I analysed a sample of 500 answers from a marketing survey to 15000 users using affinity walls. I got a taste of the user’s view of the service and the company and identified the initial goals of the research.

Defining the research methods

I decided to use a mix of remote interviews and usability testing for several reasons, the main ones were:

  • Disperse audience around the globe with hectic schedules.
  • The extreme importance of confidentiality.
  • Our users are competitors in the same market, so some information was impossible to get with other methods.

I also conducted eight contextual inquiries in several firms between London and Madrid during the project.

Getting access to the users

Because the high profile of the users the company was very careful about how and when to contact them. Luckily, I found an ally in the editorial team with a vast knowledge of the industry and the customers. Collaborating with her we created the first list of 50 users to contact and used a snowball method to reach a wider audience.

Success: The users welcomed the first round of research so much, that after the first two sprints we needed to add another person part-time from the support team to arrange the sessions. In a month we were able to get a stable flow of 3 users/week.

With the information collected I created and updated:

  • personas and user journeys
  • storyboards
  • and iterate from sketches to high-fidelity prototypes during the project.

I designed a plan for annual benchmark studies to track the state of the user experience in the industry. Fifty users testing competitors sites and the relative position of the company in the industry.

Testing ideas, not just one idea

A common issue I have identified in other projects is falling in love with the first design solution, usually the most obvious.

Start wide…

To start with a wide variety of alternatives, my first workshop involved some co-design activities. Based on the outputs, I sketched multiple version and shared them with the different stakeholders.

…and narrow the alternatives as the feedback increases

Based on the feedback I wire-framed the main screens for three initial options and presented them to 6 users (2 in-person, 4 remote).

After, I designed basic interactive flows for the main tasks, identified during the workshop, for the two preferred designs and tested them remotely with three users each.

A detailed analysis of the videos using empathy walls allowed me to select one of the alternatives and keep iterating and optimising it at the same time the team built it.

Spreading the word

Research is as good as the actions it triggers.

Research in isolation is like doing nothing. User research needs to infuse the company in all its levels.

I facilitated a meeting every sprint with the different managers and whoever wanted to join to:

  • explain the outcomes of the latest research
  • see how they could use it to improve their departments
  • update the research goals and the interview/testing scripts.

I also started different projects with the marketing, sales and the editorial departments based on the research outside of the initial scope.

As a team, we also organized a show & tell (Sprint review) for all the stakeholders.



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Bubblefish UX

Bubblefish UX

15 years of experience in design thinking and user experience.