Part of most online shopping experiences requires the ability to discover brick and mortar locations and book appointments. For this research project I explored a direct competitor Brilliant Earth and performed comparative research to the live Blue Nile site for showroom pages and the virtual/in-person appointment setting feature. Gathering real insights from the target demographic, this project sought to collect results of user perceptions between the two websites, assimilate those findings, and create a Blue Nile prototype experience that would test against the live site. Findings were used as a directive for improvements in the showroom discovery journey, and enhance the appointment booking feature.
Research was organized into two phases. The first performs an overall assessment and imrovement list. The second phase is more proactive, engaging users with a functional prototype and the live site (desktop and mobile).
Brilliant Earth vs. Blue Nile Showroom Pages
Brilliant Earth vs. Blue Nile Showroom and Virtual Appointment API
Blue Nile - Locations
User feedback indicated the following:
Initial paragraph was perceived as lengthy and were unlikely to read in it’s entirety
Found the map to be helpful in finding showroom locations but was in a less useful place on the page
Zip-code location search or geolocation functionality would be beneficial
Location features or available services listed with each location would be helpful
Blue Nile – Schedule Appointment API
Users noted that the API should appear further integrated into the layout of the page.
BN UX team also noted that API navigation would improve the aesthetics overall and may be worth investigating which UI options exist.
Summary of Suggested Improvements
Meet contemporary design standards across the map and scheduling experience
Allow users to navigate between steps when appointment setting / and make changes easily
Allow for map / listing functionality in a more condensed yet sensible design space
Geolocation functionality may prove helpful (as locations are added to this listing)
Allow for appointment setting to be brought forward with each listing
List showroom features / services with each location (users should know what they can expect upon arrival)
Where possible, direct links to showroom PLP
Overall, convey “premium” and “luxury” experience to customers to better match the brand values of BN
Blue Nile Prototype – Showroom Locations & Appointments Discoverability
Information and CTAs for in-showroom appointments and virtual appointments were placed upward on the page, were prominent and easy for users to discover.
Showroom locations were made easy for users to find (80% positive response).
Matching both desktop / mobile visual layout.
Guidance for appointment types and the corresponding steps to make an appointment were considered straightforward, was perceived as user-friendly. However, users wanted to know if virtual appointments meant it would be general or a virtual connection to that specific showroom.
Showroom visits would be considered based on the presentation of these pages, though the mapping feature could be improved from a functional and aesthetic standpoint.
Impression: Users found the appointment making process to be easy, simple and straightforward for both desktop and mobile prototypes.
Discovery of Features: Users displayed ease in finding both in-person appointments and virtual appointments equally.
Geolocation: In terms of geo-location, users were comfortable with the site tracking their location to determine the closest showroom and in nearly all cases users preferred it so they would not have to proactively hunt for the location nearest to them.
Function/Aesthetic: While Brilliant Earth may have some aesthetic advantage, users found the BN prototype to be more straightforward from a usability. Users preferred appointment setting to be more visually apparent (higher up the page), unlike Brilliant Earth where it is well below the fold.
Modernize showroom page layout and aesthetics associated with locations and mapping capabilities
Ensure that copy is easy to understand and requires less reading in general
Locations to be relevant per geolocation detection and/or selection via the map, and list other locations in order of distance from the user
Location filtering options (map or list view), following the same distance logic (above)
Booking appointments (virtual and in-person) to reflect location geolocated or selected by the user; determine if virtual appointments mean an appointment with the showroom they are reviewing
Appointment setting features to walk users through in a step-by-step process, also consider chat appointment setting in overall future solution
Continue to improve the messaging of what the advantages are for customers visiting a showroom, and what users will experience if booking a virtual appointment