Yakima Products

UX strategy, UX design, UI design


Most of us have had the experience of loading up the car for a weekend adventure only to spend the next half hour playing Jenga with camping equipment, bikes and people.

Yakima's philosophy is that any life adventure creates shared experiences and memories for you, your family and friends. With the right vehicle racks, you can take more friends — and all of their stuff!

Overview

With a seemingly endless combination of car and roof types, varying hitch mounts, and gear — finding the right product for your vehicle can be a daunting challenge for a customer.

In 2015, Yakima launched their a new website with Fit My Car tool.

It was working, but not really well.

The various combinations of vehicles, activities and mounts proved more complex than anticipated and the Fit My Car tool felt clunky and difficult to use.

So in 2016, Yakima came to me, looking to improve their user-experience.

Approach

Yakima's internal team knew their products and challenges with vehicle fit better than any outside vendor ever could. They had been living with this a while and had a good perspective on how to solve the problem.

But they needed help.

They needed a design partner who could bring cohesion to their ideas, validate them, and create documentation and design comps that would both sell the concept to upper management and give their in-house development team a blueprint to work from.

Process

Over the course of a few weeks, I interviewed product design, branding, digital marketing, and front and back-end devs. I then led Yakima's internal digital team through a collaborative design process.

We met in person to sketch out ideas and then I went back to my office, where I took those ideas further, creating clickable prototypes and high-fidelity comps.

Lessons Learned

A collaborative and lean process worked well, but we went too lean at first.

Because of budget constraints, we didn't dig as deep as we could have and kept UX documentation limited to big picture happy path stuff.

This proved great for selling the concept to upper management, but left decision gaps for dev when it came time to build. With unexpected staff changes and no UX designer sitting nearby to help, these gaps in documentation proved problematic.

Months later, we revisited the project. After auditing the existing build, I evolved the UX further, creating a UX reference bible which covered every known use-case and interaction. A helpful communications tool for dev when UX can't be there in real-time to answer questions during the build.

UX reference bible

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