Sunday, May 14, 2006

Defining the Problem: Q&A with Jen Kozenski & Larry Cornett

A continuation of the defining the problem series ...

"For part four of our conversation about Defining the Problem through design, I spoke with Jen Kozenski, Senior UI Designer at Google and Larry Cornett, Design Director at eBay about their efforts pushing a complete reorganization of the eBay marketplace.

For context, eBay is the 29th largest economy in the world with 193 million users so changing the information architecture of the site is no small feat. How did a few designers make it happen? Read on…

Q: As you know, I’ve been running a series about how design can be used to define problems, not just solutions. The work you guys did making the case to redesign eBay's information architecture is a model example. How did that effort come about? What prompted you to try and kick it off?

Jen: Over the years the eBay site was growing very rapidly but organically. It became noticeable that sections of the site were being designed by different teams, which resulted in many inconsistencies and no clear connection between areas of the site. Through usability studies, field studies, and log analysis we saw that users were unaware of different sections of the site and could not find information or features they needed when they needed them.

In order to truly understand the extent of the problem we hired a consulting company who conducted card sorting activities and a series of stakeholder interviews that helped clarify and quantify things enough for the rest of the company to understand the issue and ultimately buy into the need for a solution.

Larry: A key survey found that one of the biggest issues users had with our site was that it was so hard to find anything and that it was cluttered and confusing. Another big issue was that it was hard to explore our site. Primary areas -as indicated by the header navigation- were not accessible unless you were already registered and signed in. Which was pretty bad. For example, a guest could not explore selling on eBay until he first registered as a buyer and then went on to register as a seller and then clicked "Sell" in the header. Ouch."   continued ...   (Via Functioning Form)

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