Category Archives: user experience

ecommerce tips

Improve Your E-commerce User Experience – 3 Tips to Make Your Site a Bigger Success

By | digital marketing, user experience | No Comments

Improving your e-commerce experience can seem like a huge undertaking. Instead of scrapping your site and starting over, consider the features and functionality you already have. What can you test and improve that will help meet or even exceed your business goals? If you’re coming up short, check out the list below and start brainstorming!

Consider Your Carousel

Carousels can be a great way to feature multiple pieces of content and images where users are likely to see them. Unfortunately, usability research tells us that most people scroll past carousels and miss the content entirely. One way to make your carousel more engaging is to provide descriptive labels that incentivize users to watch or click. Another is to ensure your content itself is engaging, useful and similar; many carousels feature a grab-bag of miscellaneous content that provides no value to your customers. If you don’t need a carousel, consider an alternate way to catch your consumer’s eye.


Image courtesy of

Answer Questions and Provide Help

Customers want to know they are visiting a site they can trust with their personal information. Make it easy for customers to contact you and prominently display this information on your site. Since it’s unlikely that your customer base is identical, providing multiple types of contact information helps you connect with more customers. If you aren’t equipped to handle a ton of calls and emails, provide an easy-to-find and organized FAQ. The more expensive your products are, the more likely people will want to contact you with questions.

Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

Boost Search

Make it easy for users to find the products they want to buy. Faceted search, which is becoming especially popular with e-commerce sites, is a technique that allows users to refine and set their own search parameters. This can have a number of benefits, including reducing the number of clicks that a user must complete to find a product and making your site categories more easily digestible. Unfortunately, this type of search is not a magic bullet; if your search box is difficult to find or your search results are disorganized and unclear, users may abandon the site. It’s important to test your search flow and ensure that customers understand each step so that searching leads to conversion, not confusion.

Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

If you need any help with your eCommerce user experience, don’t hesitate to drop us a line.

Amanda Russell

UX Designer From Vail Resorts Has Joined The DO Team!

By | New Employee, user experience | No Comments

It’s been a great year for Digital Operative and as we continue to expand, we continue to add to the team – we would like to welcome Amanda Russell into her new role as User Experience Lead.

CEO, BJ Cook says, “Amanda has a keen sense of how the user experience should improve over time for a customer. Her experience and skillset are a huge value to our team and clients. We’re excited to enhance our user experience practice at DO.”

Meet Amanda:

I earned my BA in 20th Century Chinese History but have been working in the technology space for the last 5 years. During my time as a consultant in Washington, D.C., I worked as a business analyst, designer, developer and tester. I realized that I loved all aspects of technology projects, but User Experience could bring them together to help deliver an amazing solution. I moved to Denver in 2012 and officially started working as a User Experience Designer, working with local clients like Vail Resorts and Charter Communications. Every website has a user experience; my job is to make sure it’s a great one!

Welcome to the Team Amanda, we look forward to working with you and know that you are going to be a huge asset to our growing DO family!

If you would like to work for us at Digital Operative, check out our available jobs and apply to be part of the DO team!


Now Hiring Digital Optimizers: UX Lead and Magento Developer

By | Digital Operative, Internships, interviews, magento, user experience | No Comments

If you’re a strategic thinker who is passionate about innovative web and mobile design, then keep reading. And if a you’re creative type that thrives in a fast-paced environment that features nerf guns and bagel fridays, then you will most definitely want to keep reading. But let’s get serious here…DO is looking to hire two amazing individuals that will challenge cross-functional team leads on the daily, as well as get their hands dirty collaborating with engineers, back-end developers all while creating amazing web and mobile ecommerce websites. Check out the positions below:

User Experience Lead

Position Responsibilities

  • Requirements gathering that includes user research, stakeholder interviews, technical feasibility assessments, design concepting and future thinking with clients
  • Ownership of user experience for agency and its products
  • Champion principles of usability and user-centered design across the agency
  • Work with Strategy team during research process and participate in user testing and field research as needed
  • Develop logic flows, storyboards, personas, wireframes, low fidelity mock-ups, sitemaps, high fidelity prototypes, and UI specifications
  • Participate in pitch work and business development to represent User Experience
  • Contribute to the agency’s process and knowledge-base as it pertains to User Experience
  • Work with engineering team to determine tradeoffs based on business needs, user experience outcomes, and technology constraints
  • Provide quality assurance during development to ensure quality of user experience and revising experience documents
  • Provide support as needed in the areas of visual design or information design

Position Requirements

  • 4+ years creating amazing experiences including user interfaces and multi-device digital experiences
  • Complete understanding of how to combine interaction design principles with user research
  • Have practical experience working on digital commerce projects (ecommerce, mobile)
  • Expert experience with toolset (Microsoft suite, Photoshop, Illustrator, Visio, Omnigraffle, Balsamiq, etc.)
  • Exceptional presentation abilities, both verbal and visual
  • Solid understanding of interactive experiences and technologies
  • Ability to inspire confidence in client interactions
  • Team player
  • Proven experience as a team leader and client contact
  • Ability to question the norm when optimal and create the remarkable

Magento Developer

Postion Responsibilities

  • Understanding client short and long term goals and recommending a solution
  • Keeping up to date on the latest and greatest technologies
  • Setting up, configuring and optimizing enterprise level ecommerce software and servers
  • Developing custom modules for integration into ERP, accounting, fulfillment and marketing systems
  • Integrating user interface designs, flows and processes
  • Mentoring junior developers as needed

Postion Requirements

  • 3-5 years of experience building scalable robust web or ecommerce applications using PHP and MySQL
  • Solid understanding of OOP and development design patterns
  • Experience with HTML, CSS and JS (JQuery)
  • Experience working with SVN, SSH and linux command line
  • Experience setting up and configuring Apache, APC, Memcached and MySQL

Oh yeah, we’ll be looking for amazing interns soon too! In the next couple of months, DO will be in search of young, passionate and ambitious individuals in the following departments: social media, design, strategy and marketing. Stay tuned for more details!

Black Friday & Cyber Monday were a huge online success….but, some websites Crashed the party

By | customer experience, digital marketing, ecommerce, Uncategorized, user experience | No Comments

Black Friday and Cyber Monday was insane this year – The shopping season started a little bit earlier with stores opening on Thanksgiving. I am a serious Black Friday shopper, all the women in my family start planning our strategy of execution on Thanksgiving. We start shopping the deals once they are available. Meaning, I started my shopping on Wednesday night at 9pm PST. So between myself and many of my family members we contributed to the 17% increase in online sales for Black Friday. And I personally contributed to the Cyber Monday record breaking sales. Although I did have a relatively successful shopping weekend, not all consumers can agree. Some websites did not hold up to the challenge of the increase in traffic and influx in sales that were estimated. Here are a few that were a buzz kill:

Urban Outfitters

By far the biggest tragedy of Cyber Monday. Site was completely down for most of the day – so much that they had to have a Cyber Tuesday to hopefully generate some sales. I will say the Marketing behind it was genius – they owned it and even created a microsite that mocked themselves and admitted the “Broken Internet.”


During the last hour of Cyber Monday many people were complaining of their website going down. Those are some last minute sales that Amazon might have lost.


Well, it wasn’t down technically…but, they sure did have a waiting room – you had to wait in line to get to shop. You had to wait for up to 15 minutes to shop the Black Friday deals. Some may say this isn’t a big deal – but, who wants to wait in a waiting line to shop on the internet?! Isn’t that one of the perks to doing your shopping online – no lines and no hassles?!


Enough Said. I am sure many of us heard about the issues Wal-Mart was having. They had a new deal guaranteed in stock for that hour. You want it, you’ve got it……well kind of. Many people were complaining of not getting the deals promised because the site was so flooded with traffic that they couldn’t check out, or they couldn’t access the site at all the deals being promised you would think the site would have been prepared for all the traffic. But, don’t worry they apologized via twitter


Had a big snafu on Cyber Monday. Their site went down and not only had to reschedule one make up shopping day, but TWO! So, they extended their sale through Tuesday and even added Monday, December 9. They acknowledged via Twitter that they had encountered a problem:

The sales were up for mobile ecommerce sales on Black Friday and Cyber Monday – But, I don’t feel the “unexpected amount of traffic” excuse is a valid one. We all know that Black Friday and Cyber Monday are going to be some of the busiest shopping days of the year. Yes, sometimes things happen and there is an unexpected error….but, I’m hoping that these websites learn and don’t become repeat offenders next year! I love shopping and love a seamless shopping experience. With record breaking numbers coming in this year for Cyber Monday, $2.2 billion in revenue – let’s hope these retailers can pull it together for the “unexpected influx in traffic” next year!

Round up:

  • 17% increase in online sales for Black Friday
  • $57.4 billion was spent in total over the weekend
  • Cyber Monday $2.2 billion in revenue
  • $602 billion will be spent before January
  • Fashion websites saw a 25% increase over the weekend
  • Tablet revenue was up by 122% on Cyber Monday
  • Holiday sales will grow by 3.9% in 2013

5 eCommerce tips for having a successful Holiday season

By | customer experience, digital marketing, ecommerce, Uncategorized, user experience | One Comment

When eCommerce websites and holiday shopping come together – you have one of the most successful shopping weekends of the year. Between Black Friday and Cyber Monday your eCommerce website might experience a growth in sales this year like never before. Last week we put together a list of the Mistakes eCommerce managers can make during the holidays. This week we wanted to give 5 tips to help eCommerce managers have a successful holiday season.

1). Customizing your store – It’s Christmas!

With 41% of spending being done online this holiday weekend, make sure your eCommerce website is ready for the holiday season. You can increase you SEO just from a holiday themed homepage. Change up your homepage and add some content for the items that are going to be on sale. If you are having a huge Cyber Monday sale – change your titles to include the phrase “Cyber Monday Sale”. You will have a better chance of optimizing your SEO for the holiday season if your eCommerce website reflects what you are promoting. I am not saying to add Christmas trees or lights – but, changing the theme to Winter and changing some colors can make a world of difference to your holiday shoppers…..Get in the season, don’t be a Scrooge.

2). Utilize PPC – big risks will lead to big rewards

Do you have PPC set up for the Holiday season? I know PPC is a scary thing – you may think you are spending extra money that may be wasted. But, the only way to succeed is by taking risks – Big Risks reap big rewards. Spend the time to place Cyber Monday ads in your PPC campaigns, offer special deals through your PPC. Paid search sales were up 29% last year and it’s only going to continue to rise, since digital is making moves like we’ve never seen. Holiday keywords are very competitive and expensive to bid on – but, manage your budget and just know that one conversion can lead to a customer for a lifetime.

3). Embrace the Christmas/Holiday spirit – communication and context are key

Regardless of how you feel about Christmas, you can’t hide from it. It’s happening on December 25th at any rate – so you might as well embrace it. Change your eCommerce website to reflect the holidays and make sure you are blogging about it. Theme a couple of your posts to reflect the upcoming holiday season and how you are giving back or even giving away something free just because it is the holidays. If you host your own toy drive and volunteer at a food kitchen. Blog about it,  tweet it and even send it to Facebook. 84% of consumers will tell friends and family about eCommerce websites that are big on corporate social responsibility.

4). Be honest or clear with pricing, shipping and payment method

There is nothing worse than spending tons of time shopping for the perfect gift…only to find out the perfect gift really isn’t 20% off and shipping is only free if you spend over $175. Damn the small print at the bottom of the page.
Be clear and concise from the customers first click. It’s all about customer retention and by being misleading about free shipping and the price of the item, is not a way to keep customers coming back. If you are direct and save your customers time by answering all the shipping and pricing questions out front – you might have won them over for life. Plus, they might tell others how seamless their shopping experience was, you might gain customers by word of mouth.

5). Get Mobile Now

2 words – RESPONSIVE WEBSITE! This makes it easy for customers to view your website on their mobile device. Did you know 30% of shoppers are anticipated to shop online and more than half will make their shopping purchases via mobile, that’s $41.68 billion dollars…yes, BILLION in mobile sales. You can’t risk an outdated website that takes forever to navigate through. Well, you can….but, don’t expect to make many lifelong customers. People expect to be able to make moves and purchase an item at the drop of a hat – at dinner, at the park, and at work. Since there are fewer shopping days more people will be using their mobiles phones to shop.

At Digital Operative we know SEO, PPC, Web design, UX, strategy, web development and more. We know that the holiday season is very important to eCommerce managers and hope that our list of the top 5 helpful tips can help build better experiences for eCommerce websites and their customers.

What is UX and What Could it be For Our Future?

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To give you all a little bit of context, I am 7 months pregnant, so the idea of posterity has been on my mind quite a bit lately.

Let’s take a moment to break down UX for a second. For the layperson U=User and X=Experience. Many times the abbreviation UX gets caught up in a bunch of boxes, arrows and wireframes — seemingly very static stuff. The fact of the matter is that User Experience is extremely fluid and constantly changing, which is what makes it so exciting. With new generations come new baselines of technology and new status quos. If the digital landscape is changing at a rapid pace, the context to those experiences will change as well.

The User: Each generation is born with their own opinions based on the context of how they have grown up or been affected by their life. With each new generation, comes a new mindset that is open to new things and alternatively, may be closed off to others. This informs the experience that they are looking for.

The Experience: 10 years ago there was no iPhone. Now, toddlers can navigate their way through games on a touch screen. How will that landscape change in 5 years? in 10 years? How savvy will they be in interacting with and consuming information digitally? Will they still be consuming information or interacting with it in real-time. In everything that UX designers do, the experience is defined by the users wants and needs. By solving those problems in the right way, the experience comes closer to being seamless.

User + Experience: User Experience is the human and the digital element intertwined.
When you combine the two in the right way, you have the potential for magic. User Experience has always been the marriage of human interactions on a digital platform and how we can make these interactions as intuitive as possible, more specifically, how transparent can we be in solving your problem. The more that people become familiar with these experiences, the more we can begin to blur that line between a digital experience and and a physical experience. When the web was first introduced, it was a tool that was separate from the human experience, now we strive more and more to close that gap in presenting a digital experience from the perspective of a human one.

Visual Examples of these “ah-ha” moments in User Experience include: iPhone, Tablets, PS3 Kinnect, OLED Screens, Interactive displays, Influence of Touch Screen.

What’s next? Stay tuned for more of DOs future thoughts on UX.

World IA Day-2013

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World IA (Information Architecture) day in LA was great! It allowed for UX, IA and Design professionals to talk about things we think about on a daily basis.


1. The BUS Ride

I have to give a special shout-out to the organizers of UX Speakeasy San Diego. Arriving in a Limo Bus gave the San Diego crew a nice flare arriving to LA and we were well-represented because of it. Limo Bus is now the only way I will venture to LA. ;)

2. The Speakers:

Aaron Irizarry repppin’ San Diego in a big way coming straight from HP. He talked about one of the many hurdles in IA: communicating the value of UX to stakeholders, and together gaining a common language in talking about UX. As UX people, we sometimes get caught up in the ideal rather than the real boundaries that we have to work with. We learned the importance of a solid approach: communicate, validate, and visualize. Then help your stakeholders visualize through group exercises. Video of Aaron here

Dave Fiorito dove into a very classic approach on IA, navigation specifically. He had a very elegant way of expressing IA by looking at things like culture, relationships and believe it or not, choreography. I was impressed by how engaging his talk was. Video of Dave here

Greg Nuddelman is a very smart guy. As IA and UX people, we all want to get in to the latest and greatest way of communicating and interacting and Greg knew it. His talk was centered around mobile and tablet design. He talked about how to innovate through simple cues, specifically based on the way information is consumed now – on the go. He went through many case studies and why these companies (Amazon, Netflix, Siri in the iPhone and Android facial recognition) are able to innovate in their perspective fields. Particularly what stood out to me was the ability to allow the experience to involve the user, the technology and the environment in different ways. Video of Greg here

Eric Reiss came to us all the way from Denmark. He spoke in broad beautiful strokes regarding how by looking at our history as a culture, we can learn valuable lessons. He talked about how people can be too concerned with form before function, and have limited themselves because of it. Patterns and technology are great tools but the moment we are overly concerned with them first is the moment we will be limited by them. In short, what I took away from Eric Reiss was to value humanistic architecture, let context drive your design decisions, do not become side-tracked by form and do not limit your decisions by technology. Video of Eric here

Chris Chandler and Lynn Boyden spoke to us about the value of co-mentoring. It’s an idea that we many may be somewhat hesitant to dive into at first but can be largely beneficial in the long run. Co-mentoring provides for a safe environment to ask those burning questions about your career, and hearing honest-to-goodness answers from people in your field. Video of Chris and Lynn here

All in all this was a great day that made for thought provoking conversations on the bus ride back to sunny San Diego. You can guarantee DO will attend next year’s World IA Day. If you want to figure out how we apply these juicy lessons, give us a shout and we’ll be happy to start a conversation.

Carina is DO’s UX Specialist. She likes to hike…a lot.

World IA Day — Understanding If/When/How Architecture & Design Converge

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Information Architecture and design

The second annual World IA Day is this Saturday in Los Angeles and here at DO we’re really looking forward to it!  It looks like there is an awesome lineup of speakers that I’m eager to hear.

World IA Day is designed to help us understand the if/when/how architecture and design converge, as discussed by the leading UX minds in our area.  It’s a single day where 15 cities around the world are holding conferences to understand and talk about Information Architecture.  Oh yea, and it’s FREE.

Some things to look forward to:

1. Getting up at 6am to take a limo bus to LA with the San Diego UX Speakeasy group.
2. Workshops – seeing what interesting methods other professionals are employing.
3. What people’s opinions are on the cross-over of IA, UX and IxD.
4. Being surrounded by like-minded people passionate about IA and UX.
5. Falling asleep on the bus ride back from LA.

Program Details:

9:30 am –   Event registration, refreshments, networking
10:00 am – Intro and Special Thanks
10:30 am – Aaron Irizarry – Communicating IA
10:50 am – David Fiorito – Wayfinding
11:10 am – Break
11:20 am – Greg Nudelman (via Remote) Designing Mobile Magic Moments
11:40 am – Q&A
12:10 pm – Lunch
1:00 pm – Chris Chandler & Lynn Boyden – Co-mentoring
1:40 pm – Workshop: Co-Mentoring in Practice

  • Chris Chandler – UX Director, Walt Disney Company
  • Lynn Boyden – IA, USC Info Tech
  • Aaron Irizarry – EX Design, HP
  • Eric Reiss – Chairman/CEO FatDUX group
  • Damir Davidovic – CEO,
  • Alberta Soranzo – Speaker IAI Summit 2013
  • Priyanka Kakar – CX Design Manager, Vanguard
  • William Larsen – UX Director,
  • Brendan Bolton-Klinger – EX Lead, Huge

2:50 pm – Break
3:00 pm – Eric Reiss – Endnote Wrap-up
3:25 pm – Q&A
3:55 pm – Final Remarks and Gratitude
4:30 pm – Informal Reception at The Glendon

BIG shout out to the IA Institute for sponsoring and all the volunteers up in LA area and around that are coming together to put on this free event!  This is not only growing our UX community but also sharing methods and practices to make our growing community a stronger one.

More to come…

Invisible Children Store Launch

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Invisible Children stood out as a client for us because they are more than just a simple e-commerce site, their cause is equally, if not more important than their product. We wanted to find a way to marry the two. The user experience of the site was a graceful balance between educating the users about the cause and highlighting their wonderful products. We wanted the users to identify that these products are supporting the cause and realize the impact they were making through a purchase.

A few challenges we had heading into the project were to effectively communicate what “Advocate It” vs “Sustain It” products were. Advocate it being those products which promote Invisible Children and the charity’s cause, while Sustain It products are made in Africa and raise funds for works in the area.  Another challenge in this project was to create a human connection between the user and products, on three different levels.

1. A personal level, to get a one on one connection with the user.

2. A global level to let the user know what they were supporting and how they were impacting.

3. A social level to encourage spreading the word about this product or cause.

Along with these challenges, as with any site design it is important to create a user friendly experience.

View the page below to see our solution or click through to the Invisible Children Shop to navigate the page and while you’re at it buy a shirt or two and support the cause!

It’s Good to be Sketchy in UX

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UX design

So who’s sketchy out there… I mean…So who sketches out there? Now if you sketch, do you share it with people or do you hide it in your bound sketchbook for nobody to see, unless they’re really freaking beautiful? I was once that way too. It takes a lot of courage to talk about your sketches or even whiteboard through some scenarios in a brainstorming session.

A few Saturday’s ago I attended a UX Conference called Sketchcamp in San Diego. Sketchcamp was an opportunity for the User Experience community to spend a whole day exploring the importance of sketching. There are many benefits of sketching before you actually begin the design process–probably the most important it enables communication.

How does sketching relate to UX, you might ask? When you are sketching or white boarding in front of someone, this allows you and others to be on same wavelength quicker and to communicate ideas visually, which in turn is more effective. Essentially, when people watch you sketch, the same neurons that are firing in your brain, are firing in theirs too.

Really… Showing people my sketches and even sketching in front of people? There are hundreds of decisions a UX designer makes when developing wireframes and if group conversations are started at the sketching phase, we come to solutions faster and it is easier to make suggestions and explore the right direction before wireframes are digitized. When you are sketching in front of people, you are sharing what’s inside your brain as quickly and effectively as possible. You might be the UX Designer or the one giving input but the key here is communication and visually expressing your ideas.

Sketching also helps you digest information. Sketching is another way of making sense of all the ideas in your brain. It helps to get those ideas down on a paper and to assemble and the information faster. You need to see what you have in ordered to build something, right? This especially comes in handy for very complex problems with a lot of variables.

Other benefits of sketching:
– It doesn’t have to be beautiful, you are good enough!
– It can be used to maximize efficiency in a lean environment
– It encourages communication and the ability to digest information
– It is fast!

You don’t sketch well? Sketching by nature is imperfect and the more you do it, the better you will be.

Sketch on!

Editor’s Note: For other great UX gatherings in the San Diego area check out the UX Speakeasy Group on Meetup.

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