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e-commerce project: current state analysis

This article is part of a series about our e-commerce redesign.

I had some quiet time over Xmas and did some current state analysis of the online shop then. I’m so glad I did this. As per usual, as soon as the project actually kicks off there is limited time to do this sort of thorough research.

One of our business analysts has done a formal “as-is” review of the back-end processes but I’ve been concentrating on the front end user experience, particularly browsing the catalogues.

For my current state analysis I identified all the existing features. To do this:

  • took lots of screenshots, of all the screen variations I found
  • made a sitemap
  • annotated the documents, identifying each separate element

Now just because we have all these features now, it doesn’t mean we want to keep them. That said, during the website redesign we missed things that are working really well on the existing site. The site looks clunky and old-fashioned but there’s some nice features in there. So I wanted to make sure I genuinely knew the site inside out.

The functionality basically breaks down into:

  • arriving on site (including via search engines)
  • finding and choosing items
  • information about purchasing
  • registering
  • adding to basket and purchasing
  • tracking/cancelling

I’m going to concentrate on the first two areas for now.

Within the main shop (i.e. not the book shop) there are

  • a store homepage
  • category pages (including sub-categories)
  • product pages

There’s also a sitemap, terms and conditions, product news, pricing information, contact forms, and help information but the other three are the main page types.

The project already has a product backlog from an earlier attempt to kick it off. After I have annotated all my screenshots, I compiled a list of features and then compared that to the product backlog.

The backlog was missing the following elements:

  • link from product page to product instructions
  • link from product page to other product guide/pages
  • link from category page to product category guide e.g. choosing a mobile phone
  • information about product size
  • offer product variations e.g. colour and size
  • product image
  • product image enlargement
  • seasonal offers and selections e.g. Xmas
  • alternative ordering information e.g. call this number
  • vat price + non-vat price
  • login as different types of shopper
  • links to t&cs
  • communicate different delivery prices (free, special + xmas)

This flagged up for me a problem with the way the backlogs were generated. Stakeholders contributed ideas for features they wanted to see but tended to assume they would automatically get all the functionality they already have. Even with this process, I almost missed out search from the list, as it is part of the main website navigation and I was ignoring the standard page “furniture”.

Some of these gaps would indeed be obvious as we built the site but a number are not standard e-commerce functionality and it is entirely possible that the project team wouldn’t have thought of them independently. So for me the current state analysis catches functionality that might otherwise have slipped through the net.

Next: business requirements

Written by Karen

June 2nd, 2009 at 6:36 am