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Three lessons for improving usability

Digital expert Oliver Kumawu, who has worked in lead product roles at brands and retailers such as Burberry, John Lewis and Marks & Spencer, gave insight into how to reap the benefits of online and brand app usability at Drapers Digital Festival. 

Seek input

“No longer is it okay for a leader or product owner to just feed the team requirements to be getting on with. They have to be involved in the process. What I’ve found helpful when forming that vision is a number of things: 

“Get all the stakeholders that inform that product to have some sort of input. People underestimate these gatherings. The external sides of things are also very helpful – getting in agencies who work with 10 or 20 clients who have so many findings about what’s worked and what’s coming up in the year ahead.”

“At John Lewis, most customer satisfaction came from refining some of the smaller and basic features. This challenged a lot of my KPIs and forced me to think about what some of the key things from a usability standpoint are. 

“A key part of this was our retrospectives – something we do every two weeks to think what’s going well and what’s not going well. You set new objectives in that meeting and have the same amount of time to address those issues. It can be used at a micro and macro level.”

Improve ways of working 

“One of my biggest observations is the need to give the team flexibility to choose how they work, dependent on the product. When you have some divisions in this, give them to the flexibility to adapt the way you work. 

“I’m not advocating any particular way of working – they all depend on your environment. I’ve used a methodology that seems to allow fluidity: ceremonies, artefacts and tools. Typically, each one of those phases will have a number of activities that members of your team do.

“For example, with ceremonies, typically every day the team will meet for 10 minutes. They’re only allowed to say what they did the day before, what they’re blocked on or what they’re finding.”

Solve problems with speed 

“When working at LVMH, we had to find ways to solve problems quickly to show progress. All we did was take one issue –how do we build digital experience for travelling Chinese tourists – which we knew was important to the business and created some personas. 

“These were based on research and what we knew internally, but we didn’t want to stand still. This was just a starting point. We considered all the needs, pains and frustrations of these consumers and looked for partners who have existing products and worked out how to move as quickly as possible to validate some of these problems. 

“It was about solving problems really quickly to inform the roadmap and validate our assumptions of customer need.”

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