Owned by eBay - Tradera has an amazing buying and selling experience and is used by millions of people in Sweden.
Together we re-imagined and delivered a mobile first experience that had
a dramatic effect on their business.
UX and Visual Design
Together we re-imagined and delivered a mobile first experience that had
a dramatic effect on their business.
Stefan Oberg moved from Skype to head up Tradera in his native Sweden. Chris had worked for Stefan in England for many years and these two continued their friendship over chats online and in person when they could. Generally a conversation steered toward how technology can have a positive impact on business.
Stefan has a nurturing leadership style that makes you want to work with him. He trusts that people in his team find their own path to success instead of managing them directly - a style that has worked very successfully and helped grow a team making smart decisions.
We loved this style as it aligned with our company values and looking back we feel we may have taken elements of this into our own management approach.
At Tradera they have a wealth of talent who are extremely passionate about what they can do for their customers.
Over the years they have developed a very solid core business that was very much centered around a robust buying and selling experience on web. This had developed into a very successful and large marketplace.
But they had a problem…
It was clear that they were struggling with mobile. They were losing market share to smaller competition and needed to understand why then deliver on a plan.
Initially they had delivered a very strong mobile responsive web play for customers who needed it but as the people made the shift to mobile they had to start thinking of apps as another channel rather than an extension of their web presence.
We were bought in by Anne-Mette (Tradera’s product lead) to do an external review of the mobile offering and outline some next steps for the team.
I’m going to be honest - this was a little nerve-wracking for us.
We were going to be that annoying company that came in and with the power of hindsight expose some of the areas in which they had not achieved as they had hoped.
We have been in the product game long enough to know that there is always more people want to achieve within a project and often is a case of not having time, resource and budget to be able to get a dream result. We had to tread lightly as we were the new kid on the block and likely exposing issues that they were aware and looking to remedy.
The apps they had delivered for iPhone and Android were getting harsh reviews on the stores (on average 2 stars) primarily because of how unstable the products were - thousands of crashes occurring every day was just not good enough.
It was also a little tricky to navigate through core tasks within the platform so there was design work needed to help make things a little easier to use on mobile. The report concluded:
The response from Anne-Mette and the wider team at Tradera team spoke volumes for the environment that they have created inside that company.
Generally there are two reactions from internal teams to externals coming in to help.
Those who cannot accept any failure and argue critique until they are blue in the face and a more mature approach that acknowledge areas of concerns and apply learnings to improve an outcome.
We were lucky that this team was sitting in the latter of the two camps which was the perfect foundation for our path forward to make this rebuild a success.
Knowing their user base and especially users who make a living off Tradera they knew they couldn’t remove certain features without major push back, but they were very receptive to the findings from the report and agreed on a joint re-design and platforming effort moving forward with a shared objective of creating the best outcome for customers.
This was a huge decision from them and it was time for us prove it was the right one.
To begin with we had to make sure that we understood some of the key user journeys for Tradera’s current user base. The great thing was that they had such a large data set it meant that digging up information around how users were engaging with the current product was relatively easy.
From the data we could establish some of the core actions within the Tradera experience and identify that there were a lot of people playing the dual role of a buyer and seller. This would mean that our approach to design had to provide a balanced experience to help enable both use cases for every user.
We introduced a tab navigation and a smart notification framework to help customers move to their desired area inside the interface. We made it easy to switch between buying and selling and delivered a smart notification framework to help guide people to key areas.
To give ourselves the best chance at success we had to design an experience that delivered solid value for four major customer outcomes:
We needed an onboarding journey that helped users get into the app quicker and understand better what Tradera has to offer. The experience we designed let users explore the product first without being forced to create an account straight away.
Once they were ready to sell, favourite or buy an item, we prompted and showed the benefits of creating an account.
Discovery was a real problem in previous versions and felt like a very long linear path to find a desired product. This meant that a user needed to know exactly what they were looking for rather than give them the freedom to ‘accidentally’ browse to something.
We designed for both cases. A user could search for items in specific categories but could also see similar items that he could be interested in.
There was also a large amount of subcategories. We simplified discovery by aggregating those categories where possible so the user would be able to find specific items more quickly.
During the discovery process people tend to respond better to images so we made sure that larger thumbnails were used throughout the app and we had more a more balanced hierarchy to show the price, description and time remaining.
A sticky search bar was introduced at the top of every screen for discovery. Tradera has millions of items on their platform and we wanted users to be able to contextually search to narrow their view at any given time.
We knew that an increased performance would have a very large impact on the buying experience and overall revenue. Items on the Tradera marketplace receive a large amount of bids in the final minute so it was crucial we streamlined this process as much as possible.
By providing a more stable and fluid experience people could bid on an item more quickly and with more confidence that their bid will make it before cut off.
We made selling an item easy on the platform. We introduced a floating add button inside the home and selling tab to prompt the user to list a new item.
When entering the selling flow the user is taken through a more segmented, linear path to help ease them through the process. At any point they can save a draft and come back later on to adjust and publish.
The previous apps have been developed using cross platform technology and it was becoming increasingly hard to support and stabilise the builds.
The current apps had thousands of crashes a day which meant that people were becoming increasingly frustrated with the platform - especially if the app crashed when an auction was about to run out. Aaaarrggghhhh!!
It was a big product with millions of users and more and more people screaming for a better mobile experience. We needed to make some calls together.
As a collective we decided to re-platform the mobile experience. This was a very bold and hard decision as it meant that we had to build the apps from the group up and eventually sunset the previous experience.
The decision we made was critical to our success.
As our design team kicked off the next phase, we began supporting the cross platform builds to help stabilise the current app. Despite the architectural challenges we made big stability improvements and managed to limit the amount of crashes significantly.
In parallel we started working with the architects at Tradera to define new API endpoints for the mobile apps, which would be the new baseline for all future development.
Once the designs were ready we could layer in the UX / UI for the product and begin refining further details of the platform.
Given the size of the project, the idea of working with a team on the other side of the world was - understandably - received with some concerns by the Tradera development team in the beginning.
Tradera was used to working agile and being interactive. They wondered how that way of working would be affected. We knew that, managed carefully, the distance could work in our favour, with round-the-clock development time. It would be a matter of creating a framework, and then sticking strictly to process and protocols during delivery.
The first step was getting the teams together. Key members of the Roam team made the trip to Sweden where they spent a couple of weeks going over processes and tools, working, socialising and generally getting to know each other. We established a connection and then headed home to get stuck into the project.
“The stand ups were just as we usually have, they just weren’t done physically”
Once underway, the project was frictionless. We ran the whole thing over Slack and Github and made great use of the time difference between the two teams.
This team was a company determined at all times to make the best product possible for the people who use their platform.
Our teams certainly had difficult discussions about features and design decisions at times, but feedback always stayed constructive and at no point did we ever sense an “us vs them” mentality. In the end everyone was always striving to achieve an exceptional experience for the end customer.
We feel very lucky and proud to have them as a customer and are still working on projects with them to this day - they often call Roam the ‘New Zealand branch of Tradera.
The whole process went so well that the team at Tradera paid us the ultimate compliment and adopted some of our methods and processes to streamline their own delivery.
It took a mammoth effort from both companies and on April the 4th, 2017 we were able to get the new version on the store!!
To our horror upon launch we received mixed reviews. People were a little nervous about this new experience and things hung in the balance...
Oh No!! Had we made a flop? Short answer. No.
The users’ initial apprehension to using something new faded and we could see the bad reviews decreasing and positive reviews started to flood in. Analytics showed that session times and engagement were higher than ever and Tradera now had the ability to retarget previous users who had dropped off and convert them to active users again.
This was huge. People loved our app and it was the perfect example of how beautiful design and development can have a huge impact on a companies future.
Stefan rang recently to say thanks - they had just made their highest ever revenue month.
A big part of that was the beautiful mobile experience that Tradera and their Kiwi friends had made.
We saw some very positive results after a launch of the new experience. The amount of users engaging on the product had increased, the average rating of the app climbed dramatically and the amount of crashes inside the platform became negligable.
2.5 star increase
We flew over to Sweden for a number of weeks to kick off and get to know the people we were working with. This helped them feel more at home with us as we were on the other side of the world. From there things were easy.
Understanding how people are using your platform is crucial to figuring out how to make things better. Discover areas of difficulty and find patterns to help improve overall product flow.
Even more than usual, working this closely with a team on the other side of the globe it was crucial to track all work in online tools and diligently follow processes. By adapting the processes Roam had refined by building many digital products before, either team could just pick up the latest work easily while the other team went to bed. We called it a 24/7 app production line.
It certainly is a big step to entirely rebuild the mobile apps. It required a lot of due diligence, and weighing up of different options. We were impressed by the truly forward thinking decision making at Tradera, knowing that investing in a mobile first approach now will have a great positive impact on the long term strategy and performance of the company.