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Korkmaz V.

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A new e-commerce experience
for APS Garden Machinery

I have designed from scratch the interface of the online store of APS that presents
the well-known brands of garden machinery, accessories and equipment to their customers,
in accordance with their business objectives and customer profiles,
and have optimized the product categorization.

APS is a 159-year-old company that makes sales and provides service and maintenance of
garden machinery, equipment and accessories, and makes sales gas bottles and heaters
suitable for domestic and commercial use.

APS sells to all of the United Kingdom via the online store, apsgardenmachinery.com.
Sales, after-sales and maintenance services are offered at the company’s centre

APS web sitesi anasayfa ekran görüntüsü

APS website home screenshot

APS, that has acquired a reliable place in the market by the products they sell and the services they provide, wanted to renovate the interface of their online store in order to adjust to new technologies, to get better ranking in online search results and to increase its online sales.

The expectations and requests of the client are:

  • To work comply with desktop and mobile devices

  • To have the essential features of the competitors’ website

  • To offer a better product listing and filtering features

  • To continue to work with the current management system

Time Schedule

Based on the brief that the client provided us, after evaluating it with my colleague, we determined the production time of the project to be 5 months.

Technical Analysis

First of all, I wanted to determine my technical limits and to have preliminary knowledge on the market and the users. So I started to work by examining the management system that had been used and collecting detailed information about users and competitors.

During the first meetings with the company, I knew Ecwid would be the management system to use. Therefore, I and Mr Fırat Kodaz, the Full-Stack Developer who was going to help me to develop the product, examined Ecwid Rest API Platform. At this stage, we had neither the time nor the opportunity to test the API service in action.

However, we agreed that Ecwid Rest API would provide the essential features for online sales, even though it had certain limitations.

User Research

After technical reviewing, I passed on to the stage of analyzing the market and user behaviours. First I tried to gain access to Google Analytics’ account that was already integrated into the current web site. Unfortunately, I realized that the company
did not have access to it.

  • I got in contact with Google Analytics Support Team but, since they asked for too many critical information of the company, I could not complete the recovery process of the GA property.

Because of this unexpected situation, in order to conduct a user research I prepared the survey of “Creating Customers Persona Based On Real-Life Data” and then shared it with the project director of the company.

Based on the answers to the survey, the demographic features of the customers who shopped in the store were:

In the 20 ~ 90
age range

Male 80%,
Female 20%

Living in
London and
mostly around
Essex

Picking up
the products
themselves
from the store

Shopping for
themselves

Spending
min. £50
max. £1,000

Competitor Analysis

The next step was to analyze competitors’ websites in the market. I made a list of the websites to be analyzed
based on the brief provided by the company and online research I conducted. I analyzed the information architectures of the determined websites by their product categories.
I also compared the functions they provided users with,
mainly product filtering and listing. I shared with the company in a report why the items I analyzed were important for
an e-commerce website, mentioning existing errors and
my suggestions for these.

After presenting the report, the need for making an extra study on existing category system and product attributes arose.
We agreed with the project director on that and decided to schedule the study after the UI design phase was completed.

Insight

From the first day of the meetings, I thought that it might be useful to list the products
under two main categories, Garden Machineries and Gas Products.

Why two main categories?

WHY
The number of all the gas products was 70+
among all 800+ products
WHY
The two product groups were not related directly
to each other.
WHY
Among the gas products, there were ones that
might be reordered regularly, especially Gas Bottles.
WHY
The need and sales of the gas products increased
in autumn and winter, and garden machinery
in spring and summer.

What were predicted benefits?

BNF
To offer to users a more understandable content
BNF
Customizable for different types of users
BNF
To provide periodic homepage versions
BNF
To set easy actions for products that might be
re-ordered
BNF
To provide flexibility for online advertising

I predicted that customizing the product listing and the shopping experience meeting user needs might have a positive effect on the conversion rate.

This feature is based on three proto-personas.

User Personas

The proto-personas are made by the survey conducted earlier, in-store observations, the extra information that the company had shared with us and the assumption based on all this information.

Local John
Manager
45, Male, British
Epping, Zone 6, London

Use of Computer
3/5 – Desktop

Use of Mobile Device
2/5 – IPhone

House with a garden
Yes
Frequency of use: Weekday evenings
and weekends
Garden Care: 1/5 – Once in a Month
Garden Care Period: 2-4 Hours / Monthly
Reasons for Spending Time in the Garden: for resting after work,
bbq at weekends

Behavior (Lifestyle? Habits?)
He works as a manager at a company in Central London. After working hours, on bright and sunny weekdays, he uses his garden both to rest his mind and to spend time with his family. On weekends, he invites his friends…

Do it Yourself Mary
Local Business Owner
38, Female, British
Walthamstow, Zone 3, London

Use of Computer
4/5 – Laptop

Use of Mobile Device
4/5 – IPhone & Tablet

House with a garden
Yes
Frequency of use: Mostly weekends and weekdays
Garden Care: 3/5 – Everyday, short-term
Garden Care Period: 0-1 Hours / Daily
Reasons for Spending Time in the Garden: Plant cultivation and landscape gardening
for a hobby

Behavior (Lifestyle? Habits?)
The area she lives in now is also where she was born and raised. She owns a local shop very close to her home.
There are various endemic plants and flowers in her garden. She is also enthusiastic to cultivate organic …

Gardener Ivan
Self-employed Gardener
30, Male, EU
Palmers Green, Zone 4, London

Use of Computer
1/5 – Laptop

Use of Mobile Device
5/5 – Android

House with a garden
No
Frequency of use: Working hours
on weekdays
Garden Care: 5/5 – Weekdays
Garden Care Period: 6-8 Hours / Daily
Reasons for Spending Time in the Garden: Landscape gardening,
care of plants and trees
for a fee / self-employed

Behavior (Lifestyle? Habits?)
He has been living in London for a couple of years. He pays rent for the room he lives in. He earns his living by working in gardens of others on weekdays, arranging, cleaning, caring for trees and pruning them …

Prototyping

For much better understanding of how customization feature worked by the personas, I prepared a prototype that showed the alterations of the navigation and the contents of the main menu based on user type.

After exchanging opinions with the project director, we decided to postpone this feature to reconsider after publishing the web site.

To review the prototype: http://bit.ly/2lsNZbk

DESIGN OBJECTIVES

Even though I didn’t get the opportunity of testing or applying, I should have designed a user interface to meet the needs of the user personas that I formed by insights that came from the results of the data I had collected.

What were my design objectives?

  • To take a decisive part in online sales channels of the market.

  • To ensure users easily to reacha product or product groups meeting their needs.

  • To help users explore different products or alternatives

  • To find an effective method to have one or more products purchased

  • To convert common interests and behaviours of users into sales

  • To provide reliability by offering clear information in checkout step

  • To help search engine ranking improve in location-based searches

Competitive Analysis

Website Feature Comparison

Competitive Analysis would be my strongest assistant to achieve these objectives. With this, my aim was to identify common points and features in critical screens and to notice the alterations needed to be made in the new experience that I was going to design for APS. For analyzing and comparing, I picked the companies and websites by the following criteria.

SECTOR WISE Three local companies for garden machinery and accessories
Two local companies for gas products and heaters
CULTURE WISE Two indirect international companies selling similar products
Two local companies selling different kinds of products

After the Competitive Analysis, I wanted to establish the main navigation and product category structure/map via online tree test and so to create the overall/main structure of the website meeting the design objectives and users needs. By the online tree test, I’d have been able to create a model of a user’s mind map and to build well-grounded hypothesis. However, this online test couldn’t be conducted for some reason.

Site Map

Creating a site map would guide me through the design process.

HOME PAGE

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DESIGN PHASE

Which design methods have I used?
How did the design process proceed?
Which outputs did reveal?