User experience Case study: Furniture eCommerce business

Brief: A furniture eCommerce business wanted to evaluate the user experience of the current website and use the results and recommendations to inform its future website strategy.

*Note eCommerce business name has been not disclosed due to privacy issues.

Objectives were to

  • Increasing profit margins by increasing conversion rates of visitor orders for browsed and searched items
  • Reduce customer dropout and the barriers to purchase throughout the shopping experience
  • Simplify and create more effective navigation to enhance the experience of shopping online
  • Improve customer satisfaction  and brand image
My role: User Experience Consulting
Timeline: 2 -3 weeks


1. Persona creation of target market user groups

Optimization of the site began with the creation of personas that represent a section of the business target market focusing on behavior, attitudes, and motivations. Sat down with all stakeholders to discuss business and user goals and draft up the personas. Emphasis was on key user activities that drive business goals.  Six personas were drafted up and the top three most challenging ones were used for the next stage.

An example of one of the personas formulated is as below.

Name: Beverly Jones 22,
Profession: 3rd year Political Science student at UCT
Background: Recently moved to Cape Town from Joburg and is looking to furnish her new apartment.
Computer literacy experience: Intermediate
Goals and motivation: She needs to find cheapest furniture and cheap delivery. Does not have a credit card but does have money in a Debit account. She does not use the Internet except for Facebook and Twitter. She has a list of the stuff she wants to buy for the whole apartment. Has a slow internet connection.

2. Heuristic evaluation

Due to the limited time constraints a Heuristic evaluation was conducted using 20 user stories by role playing as the individual represented by the persona. The personas helped in evaluating task based activities on the site by uncovering insights about the strengths and weakness of the system as a whole. From this evaluation improvements could be evaluated against business goals and long term strategies and then prioritized.

3. Visual design mockup development

With the use of Photoshop, visual mockups were created to emphasize more clearly the recommendations for the website to developers, project managers and the executives.


An immediate action plan was created with a list of the top priorities, most critical to the performance and competitiveness of the website whilst achieving both business and user goals. These included

1. Visual cross-selling of related products or products bought by other customers

2. Improved user flow journeys and task completion times by use of JQuery/Javascript menu

3. Improved Shopping cart process through use of Previous/Continue buttons and modelling the checkout as closely to

4. Improved Search functionality by adding category searching


Added to the Product Backlog, the effect of the recommendations are still to be properly analysed. Development team and management are excited about the impact the changes could have.

Lessons learnt:

Selling UX to management is harder with heuristic evaluations but recorded user testing even of one user, can go a long way to them buying into your vision.

Developers and project managers are focused on what works functionally and keeps their backlog clean and project scope small than usability. Its up to the UX designer to clarify that disconnect from users and related pitfalls.

8 thoughts on “User experience Case study: Furniture eCommerce business

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