April 27, 2017

To redesign or not? A Vitamix experience disruption story

Vitamix Clearhead Case Study

“Clearhead’s strategy and methodology are instrumental to the success of our digital business. With their expertise we are able to make disruptive changes to our user experience with confidence, ultimately delivering a significant ROI.”
-Laura Szarek, Director, Digital Marketing, Vitamix

Sometimes the problem you think you have is not really the problem at all.

Vitamix, a 96-year-old, family-owned company, has long held a reputation amongst commercial chefs and home users alike for producing the highest quality blenders with great performance, durability and reliability.

In order to provide the best user experience for its digital customers, the Vitamix team sought out the help of Clearhead to solve a UX problem via a website redesign. Read on to learn how that changed both their problem and solution…and why.

The Problem

Vitamix came to Clearhead with a very common goal: improve overall conversion rates. Originally intending to undertake a full website redesign to improve this metric, Vitamix engaged Clearhead to help with the process.

Clearhead kicked off the engagement with our Problem Solution Mapping (PSM) process.

Problem Solution Mapping (PSM)

Clearhead’s PSM methodology:

  1. Aligns stakeholders on the goals of the business.
  2. Uncovers and prioritizes the most pressing problems standing in the way of those goals.
  3. Develops solution hypotheses to overcome the problems most worth solving.
  4. Begins testing those hypotheses to determine validity.

By orienting all design and UX investments around an agreed upon set of goals we want to achieve and problems that stand in the way of achieving those goals, we consistently demonstrate increased odds of generating ROI (what we refer to as the Physics of ROI).

The biggest problem wasn’t the overall site design.

Through our PSM work, we uncovered that the biggest problem site visitors were having wasn’t with the overall design.

Instead we saw that the average household consumer was consistently left overwhelmed by the many different makes & models of blender options. Further, we learned that the filters, facets and comparison charts Vitamix was using to address this weren’t working as well as they hoped.

Even more surprising to learn was that users did NOT want better filters & facets; they simply wanted to ask an expert for a recommendation.

Had Vitamix chosen to undergo a standard “big bang” website redesign, we might never have discovered the biggest problem their potential customers were having. And if you don’t solve the big problems, you don’t get big results.

Luckily, with Clearhead’s PSM methodology we were able to work together to uncover this big problem, and then focus their investment on designing and developing a hyperfocused solution to solve it.

Hypothesis for Solving Vitamix’s Biggest Problem

We developed the following hypothesis:

I believe if we simply ask people to provide a few of their key preferences and then recommend the most popular blender that matches those preferences, more household customers will buy direct from Vitamix.com.

Using our Data-Driven Experience Design (DDX) process, we developed two experiences for this hypothesis: the Blender Recommender and the Blender Builder.

DDX (Data-Driven Experience Design)

A couple years of ago we announced our process for lean, disruptive data-driven design projects. This process was was hand-crafted to significantly de-risk what has historically been one of the riskiest endeavors a digital business takes on: “The Redesign”. We call it our process Data-Driven Redesign, or DDR.

We took this process and adapted it to solve Vitamix’s BIG problem. Rather than a total redesign, we worked to create a disruptive experience for a specific portion of the site. We now lovingly refer to this as our DDX (Data-Driven Experience Design) product.

Here’s how DDX worked for Vitamix:

Step 1: Problem Solution Mapping (PSM)

There’s only so much time and so many resources, and you can’t solve every problem. In order to stay laser-focused on the problems most worth solving, we led Vitamix through our PSM workshop.

  1. Define Goals
    Identify and prioritize business goals, gaining buy-in from all relevant stakeholders.
  2. Problem Discovery + Validation
    Identify, validate and prioritize the friction points that stand in the way of achieving those goals.
  3. Develop + Map Hypotheses
    Develop solution hypotheses for overcoming the biggest problems standing in the way of our goals, prioritizing based on effort, impact and likelihood that it’s true.
Step 2: Data-Driven Design Sprinting

After developing a prioritized set of hypotheses mapped back to the problems Vitamix wanted to solve, we dove into design sprints using hi-fidelity, user validated wireframes.

Test wireframes with users first.

Step 3: Apply the Brand

Using a weekly cycle for our design sprints, we applied the Vitamix’s brand and style guide to our wireframes, building out final dev assets for users.

Applying Vitamix's brand

Step 4: Gradual Roll Out

Finally, we “gradually rolled” our way out to a subset of the Vitamix.com customer base (10%, then 25%, then 50%) using Optimizely and gathered a large sample of statistically significant, quantitative data. We then used this data to learn from and iterate our way to what we knew was a winning experience before we ever dropped it on 100% of the customer base.

Step 5: Optimize

After validating our designs for the Blender Recommender and Blender Builder through a gradual roll out, we were able to confidently push the experience live to 100% of visitors to the Vitamix site.

But the work doesn’t stop here–it’s really just the beginning. We’ll continue developing new hypotheses, iterating and optimizing to continue increasing ROI for Vitamix.

Here’s a preview of the experience Clearhead and Vitamix created together. Experience the live versions of the Blender Recommender and Blender Builder for yourself (and maybe even buy a blender).

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How’d we do?

We have a winner!

One of the most beautiful aspects of using data to drive UX and product changes–especially when it comes to “big swing” disruptive change–is the confidence it brings to decisions.

The introduction of the Blender Builder and Blender Recommender led to a material improvement in all key Vitamix.com household ecommerce metrics.

+5% lift in product detail page views
+5% lift in add-to-carts
+13% lift in “Find a Retailer” usage
+3.5% lift in overall site order conversion rates for all site visitors
+47% lift in order conversion rates for Blender Recommender users against those who demonstrated household shopping intent.

Through our DDX process, Vitamix was able to achieve its goal of increasing conversion rate.

Without Clearhead’s test and learn approach, Vitamix’s path to uncovering the root problem standing in the way of this goal–and designing a solution to overcome it–may have been a much riskier (and bumpier) path.

“Clearhead’s strategy and methodology are instrumental to the success of our digital business. With their expertise we were able to make disruptive changes to our user experience with confidence, ultimately delivering a significant ROI.”
-Laura Szarek, Director, Digital Marketing, Vitamix.

Read the full data story.

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