Redefine search experience for B2B e-commerce solution for immediate business needs and long-term vision
Being the sole designer on this project, I hypothesized, designed and tested the end-to-end search experience, and worked with PM, researcher and solution manager to inform about our immediate deliveries and long-term vision of search
SAP Ariba Guided Buying, part of its parent procurement suite, was launched 5 years ago for casual buyers to make a purchase in a familiar e-commerce experience. However, as more features added to the platform to serve our 1M monthly unique users in multiple industries and regions, the search experience becomes really complex and confusing.
Framed as a customer engagement initiative topic, we were tasked to not only redefine a more helpful and pleasant search experience for our users but also communicate the story to customers through a series of design workshops.
Understanding and navigating to different channels of results have been a big pain point for our users. However, it is not an easy task to solve in one go.
As the first baby step to solve immediate business need, the sticky tab bar enables users to understand what are all available channels to this search, and jump to the corresponding section easily.
A true, guided experience for our users to navigate this multi-channel search results should not stop here. On top of proposing practical short-term solution, I also took a step back to evaluate the journey of how users navigate the system, and identify the opportunity gaps where could be provide contextual, relevant guidance for users.
This approach allows us to not be constraints by thinking about one-size-fit-all solution, but desiging for guidance that is truly meaningful and helpful by the context users are in. For example, users are really confused by different types of form, and the previous layout doesn't allow easily accessible options to filter down the results. Providing colloquial terms in context turned out to be one of the simple but highly-appreciated features in the feedback.
Search is a fundamental experience for a lot of procurement scenarios. While the design proposal and insights were based on the context of SAP Ariba Guided Buying and its current users, the impact of our work has extended beyond the current product. I'm currently supporting development for a brand new buying solution, and the learnings, previous stakeholder discussions and documentation have influenced strategic decisions from architectural level, and still served as a fundation to achieve an effective, pleasant search experience for users.
Search is a topic that involves different teams, workstream and people in my organization. This project makes me truly believe that transparent communication across teams is crucial to design an experience that leverage what we know (from support team: what did customers say before?) and what we have (from data science team: what are they planning to release and tune soon?) as team. While the need for effective communication for this project even spans beyond my company, I also learned how to communicate professionally while achieving actionable outcomes by empathizing with the needs of different types of audience.
If I'd be able to start this project again from the beginning, I would strive to engage the point of contact from those relevant teams early on, instead of just leveraging their knowledge for brainstorming and validating. I also hope to make the ad hoc discussions we had, which turned out really fruitful for a lot of ongoing topics for the product team, to be more transparent and available for the product team, and documented in bite-sizes.