MAIN CHOWNOW@2x

Going Green

Year: 2019

Role: Senior Product Designer

Plus: Austin Marticorena, Ashley Romo

Year: 2019

Role: Senior Product Designer

Plus: Austin Marticorena, Ashley Romo

Overview

At ChowNow the definition of success for our product was a moving target, dancing around like a leaf in the wind. That makes it hard to reach….but this is kinda the story of how we found success anyway. With an ever-changing work environment and a fickle foundation of long term goals, we trudged forward Macbooks in hand ready to deliver and launch our re-designed ordering platform to the world.

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Let's Talk Product

Let's Talk Product

I read a book called Designing for the Digital Age. One of the first sentences was "there is nothing inherently good about chaotic or ad hoc approaches". Launching a product is a stressful, tough and exciting thing to do. But sometimes we get in our own way by not having a clear vision of what this end product should look like. And I really mean...what does it look like. Having a clear vision allows us to have a planned approach at how to execute on that vision. And in hindsight, this is was something we were missing when we started this project. Now a product vision can come from several places...but at some companies, it really needs to come from the top.

To be clear, the original task we set out to achieve was to update the codebase, fix a lot of UX issues and try to at least match the original version in terms of conversion rates. We also weren't allowed to add any features. Challenge accepted.

Some amazing 1️⃣ firsts we did as a team: the first time anything was usability tested at ChowNow, the first time any product was A/B tested at ChowNow and the first time any product had robust tracking through Amplitude at ChowNow. 

I read a book called Designing for the Digital Age. One of the first sentences was "there is nothing inherently good about chaotic or ad hoc approaches". Launching a product is a stressful, tough and exciting thing to do. But sometimes we get in our own way by not having a clear vision of what this end product should look like. And I really mean...what does it look like. Having a clear vision allows us to have a planned approach at how to execute on that vision. And in hindsight, this is was something we were missing when we started this project. Now a product vision can come from several places...but at some companies, it really needs to come from the top.

To be clear, the original task we set out to achieve was to update the codebase, fix a lot of UX issues and try to at least match the original version in terms of conversion rates. We also weren't allowed to add any features. Challenge accepted.

Some amazing 1️⃣ firsts we did as a team: the first time anything was usability tested at ChowNow, the first time any product was A/B tested at ChowNow and the first time any product had robust tracking through Amplitude at ChowNow. 

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TOP

In order for a group of people to be successful, they need a clear common goal.

In order for a group of people to be successful, they need a clear common goal.

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Dancing Around Success

Dancing Around Success

In a world where metrics are key, we hung onto them like all those plastic bags you have under your sink. Not only did our conversion rate beat the previous version but we did so pretty handily. It was great...right? Solving our UX issues, and streamlining the ordering process really worked. But the story doesn't end there. [insert awkward dancing here]

Initially, when we began this project, our long term goal was to create something that would bring the restaurant's brand forward. ChowNow prided itself with "Putting Restaurants First". And as a team of cross-functional humans, we all felt aligned on that goal. We got support from stakeholders and this ethos defined how we approached the design. It was half of a thing, a bland piece of bright white paper waiting to be colored on 🖍.

Months in and that goal would change, as projects do. That vision of a customizable online menu proved to be too hard to execute or perhaps would take too long to execute...or perhaps it was too big for stakeholders to wrap their heads around. Either way, we had shifting priorities and now our goal was to make one single menu that would not be customizable at all. So the visuals needed a refresh, a reboot... a redesign of the redesign.

In a world where metrics are key, we hung onto them like all those plastic bags you have under your sink. Not only did our conversion rate beat the previous version but we did so pretty handily. It was great...right? Solving our UX issues, and streamlining the ordering process really worked. But the story doesn't end there. [insert awkward dancing here]

Initially, when we began this project, our long term goal was to create something that would bring the restaurant's brand forward. ChowNow prided itself with "Putting Restaurants First". And as a team of cross-functional humans, we all felt aligned on that goal. We got support from stakeholders and this ethos defined how we approached the design. It was half of a thing, a bland piece of bright white paper waiting to be colored on 🖍.

Months in and that goal would change, as projects do. That vision of a customizable online menu proved to be too hard to execute or perhaps would take too long to execute...or perhaps it was too big for stakeholders to wrap their heads around. Either way, we had shifting priorities and now our goal was to make one single menu that would not be customizable at all. So the visuals needed a refresh, a reboot... a redesign of the redesign.

TOP

Success was not driven by a superficial approach to design but a long thought out plan dependent on data and usability.

Success was not driven by a superficial approach to design but a long thought out plan dependent on data and usability.

BOTTOM

How's It Gonna End?

Ultimately we had to make some concessions taken from various stakeholders. It's a thing you have to do when data doesn't hold as much water as you thought. We sacrificed a bit off our conversion rates to make the design more aesthetic. This helped us get the final "FINAL" launch approval 😓 from all involved. 

Outside of the approval process, perhaps the hardest thing was branding the brandless. Everything made is designed whether you want to be or not. Trying to pretend that you can make an essentially undesigned product is futile. It is well known that good design is a cornerstone of retention. 

In the end, our online ordering system not only looked better than the previous version, but it also performed better and was 10X more trackable 📈. This success was not driven by a superficial approach to design but a long thought out plan dependent on data and usability. Much like this old article from Stratechery, "good design" focuses on customer needs related to user experience and long-run currents, not short-term trends. 

Ultimately we had to make some concessions taken from various stakeholders. It's a thing you have to do when data doesn't hold as much water as you thought. We sacrificed a bit off our conversion rates to make the design more aesthetic. This helped us get the final "FINAL" launch approval 😓 from all involved. 

Outside of the approval process, perhaps the hardest thing was branding the brandless. Everything made is designed whether you want to be or not. Trying to pretend that you can make an essentially undesigned product is futile. It is well known that good design is a cornerstone of retention. 

In the end, our online ordering system not only looked better than the previous version, but it also performed better and was 10X more trackable 📈. This success was not driven by a superficial approach to design but a long thought out plan dependent on data and usability. Much like this old article from Stratechery, "good design" focuses on customer needs related to user experience and long-run currents, not short-term trends. 

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© 2020 Jonathan Brazeau

© 2020 Jonathan Brazeau

© 2020 Jonathan Brazeau

© 2020 Jonathan Brazeau