How user research is helping us improve the Membership site

My name’s Simon and I’m one of the user researchers on the Co-op Membership team, alongside my colleague, Vicki Riley. It’s our job to understand what members and non-members need from the service and find out what they think of it. This way we can act on their feedback and continually improve things. Whilst we’re responsible for user research, the whole team get involved in research sessions and meeting users so they can empathise with the people who use the services we’re building. This ensures they design with the user, and not themselves, in mind.

We don’t just rely on one method of user research to find out how people feel about the Membership service. We gather feedback in lots of ways and I wanted to share these with you.

Feedback through the website

The website has a ‘give feedback’ link. As of today, 7 December 2016, we’ve had 9469 comments. We’ve analysed them all and have been comparing them with what we learn from our other research approaches.

Phone call follow up

We often do phone interviews with people who have said they’re happy to be contacted about the website feedback they’ve given. This allows us to get more detailed feedback and also find out how people expect things to work.

Online surveys

We sometimes do online surveys of which allow us to range a wide range of people quickly and easily. These surveys are around 4 or 5 questions long. We’ve found that the easier it is for someone to give us feedback, the more likely they are to leave some.

Speaking to people in labs

We also speak to people in our research labs. These sound far more ‘scientific’ than they actually are. Research labs are usually a room with a computer, a microphone and a camera allow the rest of the team to observe the research. We invite people in, talk to them about shopping, loyalty cards, online services and Co-op Membership. We then watch people using the service as they complete tasks such as registering a temporary card or choosing which local cause to support. I ask them to talk me through what they’re thinking as they use the service so that we understand how they’re finding it.

Store visits

We already visit stores but we plan to do more of this.

Tracking website traffic

Finally, we also gather analytics from the website. This allows us to understand which pages people are visiting, how long they’re spending on pages, what they’re clicking or selecting, and which error messages are triggered most frequently.

By using a combination of these research methods, we have access to a wide range of interesting data about how people use the service.

Using research findings to improve

So here’s an example of how we’ve used what we’ve learnt from our research to make a change.

We’d seen through lab testing that people didn’t always understand that they could choose their own cause to support with their 1% for your community reward. We found people thought that we decided for them, or that they would email us later on with their choice. They didn’t notice there was something on the screen that they could click to choose a cause. Here’s how the page used to look:

The Membership page before our design changes. Many users weren't sure how to choose their cause in the 'your community' box

The comments from the feedback link told us the same thing. People had commented:

“I can’t find where to vote regarding where the 1% goes.”
“How do I select my preferred local cause please?”
“Should be able to select which charities I want to support.”

The analytics were backing this up too. We saw that a significant number of people were getting to the page with the ‘call to action’ (the bit where they could choose a cause) but they weren’t actually selecting one.

The team came up with an alternative design to try and make it more obvious how the user could interact with the page. It was a simple content fix. We added ‘See your local causes’ inside the box about ‘your community’. When we tested it with people in the lab, they understood it – they knew what to do. So earlier this week we put it live. Now the page looks like this:

New design of the Membership page includes a simple content fix in the 'your community' box. It now says 'See your local causes'

It’s early days but we’ve already seen more people selecting their cause and therefore benefiting their community. We’ve seen a 10% increase already. We’ll be keeping an eye on the feedback to make sure we’ve improved the journey. We’ll continue to research regularly and as always we’ll keep using what we’ve learnt to improve the service.

Members can visit to choose a local cause. If you’d like to become a member you can sign up for membership.

Simon Hurst
User researcher on the Membership team

6 thoughts on “How user research is helping us improve the Membership site

  1. Tim Cutting December 7, 2016 / 8:25 pm

    Why not say ‘choose which local cause to support’ rather than ‘see your local causes’?

    Liked by 1 person

    • simonhurstcoop December 8, 2016 / 9:28 am

      Hi Tim

      That’s a sensible question.

      There are a couple of reasons for this. One is because you can’t actually choose on the next page, you do view them, you then get to choose the cause on a subsequent ’cause profile’ page. Secondly, some members may have already selected a cause by this stage, making the ‘choose which local cause to support’ inaccurate, we’d need to change it to ‘change the cause you’re supporting’ for those members.

      This was the leanest change we could make to make a difference and then measure it with analytics. We’re monitoring it though and we’ll keeping trying to improve it.


  2. Adrian Horan January 17, 2017 / 2:57 pm

    Hi team, out of interest, how many of the comments you receive through your website feedback are genuine user feedback? At my company we have a website feedback option, but we find some people use it to request a service rather than provide feedback. Do you have this problem?


    • simonhurstcoop January 17, 2017 / 3:13 pm

      Hi Adrian, that’s a good question and the answer is ‘it’s a mix’ to be honest.

      My hypothesis is that, for us at least, there is a user need to be able to get in touch with us to ask a question, or get some help. When the user struggles to find a way to meet that need (i.e. they can’t find how to ‘contact us’) they pick the next best option of getting in touch with us, which is the feedback link.

      I think we need to look into how we gather feedback and iterate on it, perhaps following a pattern like that used on Services on there generally have a ‘is there anything wrong with this page’ at the bottom of every page.


Comments are closed.