CASE STUDY: Product Development of an online International Sales website

Project Summary

Having already delivered a number of IT projects within the equestrian sector I was appointed technical lead on a pilot project to deliver an International sales website for Irish horses. This system was quite complex as it had to provide Irish horse breeders with access to a website where they could manage the sales stock for their breeding enterprise but all have those animals listed in a central sales catalogue for promotion in the International market. The closest business model to this web system is a classifieds system with secure individual logins but a searchable central database of products. For reasons of confidentiality and website security I cannot disclose the specific technologies used on this project.

The following process was used for this New Product Development but with a strongly user-focused methodology.

  1. Competitor analysis – I assessed similar products available within the International horse sales marketplace and I performed heuristic evaluation on these sites.
  2. User research – I performed interviews with horse breeders to determine their level of expertise with web technologies and determine their requirements for the new system.
  3. Requirements document – in association with the client I compiled the scope of the new horse sales web system using the findings from the competitor analysis and the user research.
  4. Technology research – I then investigated the options for delivery of the pilot web system including a fully bespoke solution, an open source platform that could be tailored or a commercial product offering. Based on the flexibility offered by open source software I advised to proceed with an open source platform.
  5. Prototype developed – I produced an offline prototype of the web system using open source components and an add-on software module providing the core functionality from the requirements document.
  6. User feedback – user feedback was sought at this point, prior to any extensive customisation of the system. (The earlier user feedback is given the lower the eventual cost to the client.) The user feedback allowed me to identify areas for customisation specific to the equestrian sector.
  7. Customisation – I then tailored the web system to provide both the buyer and seller user experiences in line with the client’s requirements and the user feedback.
  8. Infrastructure – I commissioned the hosting infrastructure for the new website and had security penetration testing performed to ensure it was secure prior to migrating the pilot site from the internal network to the Internet.
  9. Pilot launch – the new web system was launched on a pilot basis with a small number of users with the equestrian sector.
  10. User testing - this pilot web system enabled me to collect useful feedback and perform user tests on a fully interactive system to identify usability or UX issues.
  11. Iteration – following the user testing I implement small changes to the system to remove usability roadblocks and improve the overall user experience prior to a full launch.
  12. Analysis – in addition to the qualitative feedback I implemented Google Analytics and customised this to track the KPIs on this web system on an ongoing basis.
  13. Vendor management – the final stage of this project was to manage the tender process for a web company to take over the operational support and ongoing development of the web system. I researched potential vendors to assess their technical expertise in the specific software in use, reviewed their support proposal documents and then made recommendations to the client on same. I then worked closely with the firm awarded the contract to ensure there was a smooth transfer without any downtime on the live system.

Contact Me

If you would like to discuss potential UX projects please feel free to contact me. Call Fiona Mulreany on 087-6380841 or email fiona@mulreany.ie

My Role

  • Project Management
  • Technical Architecture
  • UX Design
  • Web Analytics