REI FIT

An Interactive Digital Tool to Improve Online Boots Fitting Experience • Product & UX Design

My Role

UX Design Intern | 01 - 06. 2016

Tools

Axure RP, Lookback.io, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Premiere Pro

What I did

Contextual inquiry, Competitive analysis, Wireframing, Low - High fidelity prototyping, Usability testing

Team

Kirk Lestelle, Alec Martin, Cechi Shi, Xiaochen Yu

A Hiker: "How can I determine which pair(s) of boots to purchase, online, to best fit my hiking experiences?"

Current Online Shoe Shopping Experiences Fail

Online shoe shopping experiences currently fail to highlight subtle, yet important differences between shoe models, brands, and types. This problem is further compounded when purchasing a specialty shoe type, such as hiking boots.

With that in mind, REI came to us with a challenge:

How can we handle FIT better?

in terms of using digital platforms to help customers choose hiking boots that fit their hiking experiences.

Design Solution

Through our design process, we found that the complexity of a positive boot fitting experience can be simplified into three critical categories:

Educate User, Personalize Fit, Create Confidence

Our final design of the website contains these three categories by providing an effective customer survey to accurately recommend the best product for their needs.

Design Process

REI FIT Demo Video

Online Experience Mirrors Offline Experience

Our Idea is to bring the confidence of an in-store purchase to the online experience. In order to achieve this goal, we designed a hiking boot user flow that mirrors an in-store fitting every step of the way.

REI FIT Landing Page | Educate User

By including a short intro and video stressing the importance of a thorough fitting process, we hope not only to help customers get into the right boots, but to educate them about the nuance associated with hiking boots as well.

Virtual Fitting Questionnaire

The virtual fitting questionnaire is the key component of our proposed solution. Much like an in-store fitting experience, the questions indirectly allow the system to determine which features the customer requires in the right boots for the right hike, with the right features and right fit.


Virtual Fitting Questionnaire | Context of Use

The user begins by answering some questions about their intended context of use for the boots. These questions help the system determine what boot type and features the user needs.

Virtual Fitting Questionnaire | Personalized Fit

The user is then asked to answer questions about their foot shape. This helps determine what size and shape boot the user needs. Tutorials are offered to help the user quickly obtain accurate measurements.

Short Tutorial Videos | Minimize Misconceptions and Previous Experience

We stressed the importance of accurate measurements in the video tutorials, for foot width and instep questions, and encouraged users to measure themselves thoroughly rather than rely on past experience by having short videos (less than 60 seconds) explaining how to take each foot measurement, and why it is important.

Fitting Results | Create Confidence

By showing users exactly what features or “Tags” are generated from each answer they provide, we hope to show them that each question plays an important role in the selection of the optimal boot. We believe that this will also help instill confidence in the user, by showing that answering these questions is actively helping them get truly personalized recommendations.

Intelligent Recommendation

Showing 3 different shoe models at a time rather than a single pair, which is how shoes options are usually presented to customers in REI store, we wanted to show that customers still have options rather than force-feeding them the pair.


By comparing the features of the boots in plain English, we are hoping to give the customers all the information they need to make an informed decision, while making it clear that between the three models there is no “wrong” choice, since each model has been handpicked to meet their specific needs.


In addition, customers can add additional features by applying corresponding filters to customize their options. We addressed the boots fitting results from the previous summary page by adding the “mouseover” interaction to show the meanings or original content from the previous fitting result summary page as self-explanatory boot feature tags.

Design Questions

What aspects of physical fittings for hiking boots can be brought to the digital world?

What can be an effective way to address and present the concept of FIT on REI website?


Milestone I | Initial Research


Method 1: Field Observation and Semi-formal Interviews at REI Flagship Store in Seattle

5 Semi-formal Interviews with REI employees who were knowledgeable about hiking boots.

3 Semi-formal Interviews with REI customers about their former experience in purchasing hiking boots.

8 Semi-formal Interviews with individuals who recently purchased hiking boots from an online retailer.


Method 2: Competitive Analysis via Online Researching

We also researched online about existing digital platforms used in the field of fitting.


Findings

Hiking boots have several unique challenges when it comes to fitting. Many of these challenges have nothing to do with the size of the boots, and require a certain level of expertise to navigate.


REI has created an in-store experience that generates trust and loyalty in their customers, especially REI members, by having resources aimed at helping customers navigate the fitting challenge. The experience includes expert employees and free in-store alteration services.


there are no existing digital platforms currently have a fitting experience that addresses any issues beyond the size of the hiking boots. Brooks and Mizuno are running shoe companies that have implemented personal fitting systems into their online experience to help customers self-analyze several characteristics that affect which running shoe fits them best. This is not surprising since manufacturers typically produce more rigorous data for running shoe characteristics than in hiking shoes.


Milestone III | Concept Testing

Participants Recruitment

To recruit participants, we distributed a short questionnaire on several UW hiking club Facebook pages.

From that screener questionnaire, we scheduled 5 half-hour sessions. Unfortunately, only 3 participants showed up. To make up for this, we conducted two sessions with participants known personally to our team, who have experience with hiking and purchasing hiking boots.


Test Sessions

During test sessions, we used Lookback.io to record on-screen interactions as well as conversation. These recordings were used to take notes on study sessions after the sessions had ended. The documentation we used during our usability test sessions includes the general script, the use case scenario, the consent form, and a post-test questionnaire.


5 Affinity Diagramming Themes & Design Recommendations


Theme 1: Stigma Against Buying Online

4 out of 5 participants mentioned that information on current websites didn’t provide enough information to make them confident in a boot purchase.

Design Recommendation | Be thorough and transparent with users at each step of the process, so that they know exactly what is being recommended and why.


Theme 2: Instep Confusion

4 out of 5 participants were not familiar with their instep height and weren’t able to determine it effectively using the graphics we provided.

Design Recommendation | Find a more effective way to explain what instep height is, why it is important, and provide a way to objectively measure it.


Theme 3: System Feedback

All 5 participants thought the system might be malfunctioning because they were not able to see that the system registered their answer inputs (clicks).

Design Recommendation | Add some sort of system feedback to ensure the user that their input has been received. One option would be to make the “Next” button grayed out and disabled until the user makes a selection.


Theme 4: Misconceptions and Previous Experience

Multiple participants were able to answer our more complex questions quickly because they “knew” the information being asked from prior fittings. The accuracy of this knowledge, however, is uncertain.

Design Recommendation | We will stress the importance of accurate measurements, and encourage users to measure themselves thoroughly rather than rely on past experience.


Theme 5: Tag Confusion

2 out of 5 participants had trouble understanding some tags we presented on our boots recommendation page and doubted the connections between the contents on the questionnaire result page and the tags.

Design Recommendation | Address the boots fitting results from the previous summary page as references to show more connections between their answers and the tags.

Milestone V | Usability Testing

Participants Recruitment

To recruit participants, we distributed the same short questionnaire on several UW hiking club Facebook pages.

From that screener questionnaire, we scheduled five 30 - 40 minutes sessions. Unfortunately, one participant didn’t show up. To make up for this, we conducted one session with a participant known personally to our team, who has experience with hiking and purchasing hiking boots.


Test Sessions

During test sessions, we used Lookback.io to record on-screen interactions as well as conversation. These recordings were used to take notes on study sessions after the sessions had ended. The documentation we used during our usability test sessions includes the general script, the use case scenario, the consent form, and a post-test questionnaire.


6 Affinity Diagramming Themes & Design Recommendations

Theme 1: Eagerness

Participants were eager to get right to it and perform the measurements on their feet. This lead to users making incorrect measurements, and, in some cases, measuring the wrong part of their foot.

Design Recommendation | Be thorough and transparent with users at each step of the process, so that they know exactly what is being recommended and why.


Theme 2: Prior Experience

Many participants tried to use their previous experience with shoe fitting in order to quickly select an option on the foot measurement questions.

Design Recommendation | Find a more effective way to explain what instep height is, why it is important, and provide a way to objectively measure it.


Theme 3: Transparency in Answers Affecting Results

Multiple participants wished they could easily learn how each selection during the questionnaire was affecting their results and boot recommendations.

Design Recommendation | Add some sort of system feedback to ensure the user that their input has been received. One option would be to make the “Next” button grayed out and disabled until the user makes a selection.


Theme 4: Precision

Participants preferred having actual ranges of measurements for them to choose from. They also reported that more precise descriptions of the concepts and terminologies would be helpful.

Design Recommendation | We will stress the importance of accurate measurements, and encourage users to measure themselves thoroughly rather than rely on past experience.


Theme 5: Summary Page Clarity

Participants appreciated the final page of the questionnaire that displayed both the answers they gave and the Expert recommendations that came from those answers. However, they still believed that the information could have been displayed better.

Design Recommendation | Address the boots fitting results from the previous summary page as references to show more connections between their answers and the tags.


Theme 6: Tutorial Button

None of our 5 participants noticed the “Show Tutorial” button at the top of each question screen.

Design Recommendation | Address the boots fitting results from the previous summary page as references to show more connections between their answers and the tags.

Project Takeaways

Conduct more sessions for usability testing

Recruiting participants is hard, especially on a tight timeline. With that being said, we really would have liked to have the opportunity to test with just a couple more participants for each test phase. While we were able to get extremely valuable information from the participants we worked with, we didn’t quite feel like we were able to reach full saturation.


Record the process - take pictures, take notes on every meeting

We learned quickly that there is no such thing as too much documentation. If we were to start from the beginning, we would take a lot more pictures, notes, screenshots, etc. in order to help us more clearly communicate our ideas, process, findings, and progress to our peers, users, and sponsor.


It’s always good to start early, as we did


Moving Forward with FIT

REI Expert Knowledge Database

In order to build the database containing all of the appropriate information for each hiking boot, we believe that REI Experts at multiple REI locations could record the contextual and foot characteristics that are unique to each boot.


Customer Profile Recommendations

REI customer engagement could be improved with this fitting survey by saving their answers into a customer profile that can be used to easily recommend future boot purchases or other products.


FIT Experience in Other Products

Online purchasing experiences for other products (e.g. bikes, running shoes, ski boots) could also implement their own fitting survey to give accurate recommendations to online shoppers.

Team FIT

REI FIT Poster