Granify is at the intersection of artificial intelligence and e-commerce, providing a SaaS solution that enables online retailers to maximize their sales by using cutting edge big data and machine learning technologies. The software predicts specific user barriers, and offers solutions to those problems while the user is still on the site.
I was hired on to build the design team at Granify when it was just a small startup. I worked as the sole designer, while laying the ground work for future hires. I eventually hired and led a team of 4, contributing to a Series A funding of $9M from Valar Ventures in 2015. This was the largest tech investment in Alberta that year, and my team of designers and I had a large role, producing the public facing product. We worked with some of the largest brands in the world like HSN, Hollister, Toys R Us, Hallmark and many others across the globe, producing the design and development of our product.
In the first 3 months of 2017 alone, our work has led to over $21M in new sales for our clients!
TOYS R' US CASE STUDY
My design team was tasked with increasing the mobile conversion rate for a Toys R Us. This case study will look at one of the eight solutions we presented to our client, which all together resulted in 7.44% conversion rate uplift and over $715,000 in total revenue uplift over the last 4 months.
In order to understand the user, the team interviewed parents who were purchasing gifts for their children during the research phase. We learned that many parents want to purchase gifts that will not only be fun for their children, but will also help in a child's personal growth and education.
Initially, we developed two sliders (one anchored to the side, and one anchored the bottom of the screen) which show the shopper which part of a child's brain is activated when they use the toy the shopper is currently looking at. The slider updates and changes as the items the shopper is looking at update and change. The slider also provides a second state which offers additional information about how the different sections of the brain are activated.
After the first month of A/B testing, we were able to determine that the bottom slider was performing better in the majority of use cases, so we ended up turning off the other slider.
While the client loved all of the concepts, they were very excited to run this particular experiment. They were even more pleased with the phenomenal results we provided for them.
After our Series A in 2015, Granify began to focus it's energy on large scale, enterprise eCommerce clients. This was an exciting time for the company, and it brought forth amazing opportunities. The change also resulted in some growing pains, one of which – I am happy to report, I was able to remedy.
As our onboarding pipeline filled with larger, more financially significant clients, and the stakes were raised significantly, the CEO wanted to be more involved in the design. He began to insist on personal approval on the design of the concepts before my designers sent them out to the client. This resulted in conflict within the design team and significant operational inefficiencies. The designers expressed that they felt their ownership and trust was being dismantled. I also found that the process was becoming less scalable and predictable.
I was committed to finding a solution that would benefit both parties, maximize productivity, and ultimately produce the best results for the company financially. I worked as a liaison and mediator between the designers and the CEO to remedy the issue. I initiated a discussion with the CEO to discuss the problem from my team's perspective. I outlined how the current approval process was having a negative effect on performance and employee engagement. I came prepared with a detailed, alternate plan that ensured he would still have confidence in the concepts we are sending to our clients.
The alternative plan consisted of 3 groups within the design team, each group representing a particular sub-process within our concept development operation. These consisted of User Experience Research, Problem Solving, and Visual Design. I had already gauged interest from the design team in their 1:1s, and had proposed which designers I felt would excel in each particular group, based on their strengths and career trajectory. The designers would function as a contributor when they work on a project, and ultimately push their concept through the three stages, but I wanted them to be actively involved in refining the process.
The User Experience Research Group
The purpose of this group is to unearth relevant, specific, and potentially obscure reasons why a shopper is not going to purchase on a client's site. The contributor would initiate a kick-off meeting with this group to discuss timelines, tools, assets, constraints and deliverables. The group created and updated a toolkit which the contributors would have access to in order to determine the 3-5 barriers preventing business and user goals from aligning.
The "Research Audit Target" allowed the contributor to quickly, and visually, plot which areas they have already researched and which areas are lacking information.
The target moves out as the research becomes higher scope, moving from the individual user, to the specific store, to the general ecosystem the store exists in. The target is also split into left and right hemispheres, to emphasize the importance of including both quantitative and qualitative sources of research.
The benefit of this system is that it allows the designer to do as much or as little research as necessary within their time constraints. A fast paced task may only allow for one research technique in each quadrant, while a more intensive project can include multiple techniques in each section.
By the end of this process, the contributor has a clear and confident idea of the problems they need to solve moving forward.
The Problem Solving Group
The purpose of this group is to provide a safe and effective environment for exploration, innovation, and validation of outstanding solutions.
After brainstorming several solutions to the problem identified in the UX Research group, the contributor picks one solution and submits it to the Problem Solving group for critique. The group is encouraged to discuss the solution in relation to the goals of the project as opposed to offering reactive and/or directive feedback statements.
We created a google form so that the problem solving group members can rate and review a concept within a consistent context. The ratings are extracted to a google sheet, where we can see the strong and weak areas of each concept, along with specific comments in regards to our evaluation criteria.
The contributor is encouraged to meet with a developer early and frequently to discuss implementation and technical feasibility.
The Visual Design Group
This group’s objective is to evaluate, iterate and communicate visual design guidelines to balance user, client, stakeholder, business and technical requirements while ensuring the concept is brought forward to its full visual potential.
The Visual Design group functioned in a similar, but less formal, approach to the Problem Solving group. We started this group by requiring mandatory revisions from peers, and peer sign off. As a result of our recurring group retrospectives, we eliminated the mandatory revisions and approvals, and placed all final decisions in the contributor's hands with the caveat that they must be able to justify their design decisions. This was a very powerful change, because it gave the designers ownership and accountability to make appropriate revisions based on how they interpreted the feedback.
The design team at Granify uses (and loves!) a very new software called Figma, which is quite similar to Sketch, however it is a real-time collaborative tool, and can be accessed in browser or through a desktop application, which makes it extremely easy to share work.
The CEO was very impressed with the amount of time and thought I had put into this project. By setting up recurring retrospectives for each group, they were able to quickly address pain points and implement new or different procedures to accommodate. To help garner the CEO's support, I asked if he would like to be involved in the first few retrospectives, so that he could offer insight from his perspective, and ultimately ensure that the groups were aligned with his vision.
We noticed a significant increase in the designer’s engagement and overall happiness. The system has also helped us innovate new concepts and completely redefine old, proven concepts. The process as a whole has had a tremendous impact on our company, and the results have exceeded both the CEO’s and my own expectations.
Granify ANIMATED BANNER
Granify is a rather complicated SaaS, utilizing AI and psychological design. To summarize this complexity, I created this interactive, animated banner for the background of our booth at a trade show.
I created the HTML/CSS/SVG/Coffeescript animation for this modal. A live version of the banner can be found here: