Advance
Auto Parts

Redefining digital at a Fortune 500 company and launching a successful B2C Mobile App for engaged DIYers.

Introduction

I joined Advance as the second UX hire ever. The company was in the midst of agile transformation and I was asked to be a leader in facilitating this change. I was assigned to the B2C Mobile App, a project that had failed to ship for the past few years.

I worked with a small and talented team to break the curse by shipping a product that customers love. Along the way, we brought innovations like User Testing, CI/CD Pipelines, and Cloud APIs.

Team

John Vecchione
Product Owner

Kevin Yi
Product Designer

Jon Poland
Business analyst

Astea Solutions
development team

The Problem

The mission was clear, launch a mobile-first experience. The road to get there, however, seemed filled with deprecated systems, technical jargon, and endless anecdotes.

To avoid design by accretion, our team needed to bring alignment by focusing delivery around our customers and technical feasibility.

Understanding our Customers

Providing clarity about our customers to the team was my first priority. I worked with the PO to ensure our roadmap included usability testing and customer insights at every junction.

I gathered insights using existing tools, market research, interviews, and surveys. I also helped build an in-house testing lab to make this capability accessible to other teams.

Analytics

I used historic data to find design opportunities with high ROI.

User Replays

I watched JS replays of customers to identify usability concerns.

Interviews

I talked shop with a lot of customers and store employees.

Guiding Principle

Understanding the user isn't a destination but a journey. Throughout the design process, and even after launch, the profile of what motivates and what tasks are important to our users is always evolving.

Saving money and saving time, however, are staples of the majority of our conversations. The digital experience users want is one that they can leave in their rear view mirror.

"Save me money,
save me time."

Information Architecture

Our customers were accustomed to our web experience, despite glaring usability problems, it was familiar to them. My goal was to create a navigation that allowed us to scale, but didn't lose familiarity. I worked with the BA to create flow charts, documentation, and JIRA tickets to keep this process transparent.

Wireframing

Due to time constraints, we prioritized design thinking sessions with cross-functional stakeholders and rapid prototyping. I did spend time wireframing portions of the experience such as Cart and Checkout which were known friction points.

Design Exploration

Balancing an expectation of something new while respecting a legacy, has been the biggest challenge. I spent a lot of effort exploring our brand and testing designs with customers.

We found in our conversations that they wanted to be grounded in our brand. They had trust for our marks, colors, and typography.

We also found an openness to rounded details, content in cards, and larger elements.

UI & Design System

The mobile app had lofty goals beyond customer satisfaction and incremental revenue. The UI was meant to serve as a catalyst to the refactor of the legacy website. This meant that I needed to design with other platforms in mind.

Contemplating the size of our team, I decided to take a Design Language approach to our UI. I spent a lot of upfront time doing specs of individual UI components and creating documentation. This meant that developers could make better decisions and build without overly relying on deliverables.

This also helped our Web team to begin working on React components and shipping new features with us. We did deep dives with other partners around accessibility to create a roadmap for inclusivity.

Development Process

Throughout development, I worked to provide clarity and guidance as well as JIT deliverables. We also kept our commitment to user testing by workshopping several beta versions of our app. Through feedback from internal groups and respondents, we were able to finalize our UX writing and assets for launch.

Launch

In March of 2020, we went live in both the App Store and Play Store. At the time of writing this, we have already outperformed on all objectives in less than 130 days since launch. The app has been well received by our core audience and sustains a 4+ star rating and has already brought in 3x our expected revenue.

Say Hello

Stop being weird and say hello. I'm open to new opportunities, a cup of coffee, or even a game of FIFA.

thekevinyi@gmail.com