A three-week UX design project for Javaya, an online craft coffee marketplace looking to improve the online experience for users.
Javaya helps coffee drinkers get fresh roasted coffee delivered to their door from select craft roasters. Working with 2 other UX designers, we conducted user research, identified users' needs and frustrations, and redesigned the web experience by improving usability and information architecture—giving customers a better way to buy the coffee they want.
Domain research and competitive analysis
User survey & interviews
Roaster & SME interviews
Persona and journey map
Mid-fidelity Axure prototype
A/B testing & usability testing
Heuristic evaluation & content audit
Roadmap & future recommendations
Javaya was started by 2 friends, Nick Selman and Jasen Holley, who met in business school at Notre Dame. Bonding over their love of Chicago craft coffee and a passion for brewing it at home, they both shared the frustration of not being able to get fresh beans. So they set out to build something to solve their problem.
Enter Javaya. Javaya™ is an e-commerce marketplace offering the widest assortment of craft coffees by the best specialty roasters in the U.S.—all delivered fresh to customers’ doors.
Their goal is to support local craft-coffee roasters by providing customers a coffee marketplace that offers freshness, assortment, and quality while emphasizing convenience.
Nick approached our team to look at the usability of the current website, and evaluate how to best educate customers about craft coffee that would drive purchases and subscriptions.
My team set out to understand the demographic of the craft coffee consumer, and learn about their needs and purchasing behavior in the growing world of craft coffee. To better understand the context of the coffee world, I took the lead on domain research.
"While sales of automatic coffee appliances have declined, in-home consumption of coffee has grown to a new normal compared to a decade ago, and NPD is forecasting 9 percent growth in coffee consumption by 2024."
- The NPD Group
Through market research as well as interviews with roasters and SMEs in the coffee industry, we found that much like craft beer and craft spirits before it, craft coffee has been on the rise. Now in its third wave, coffee drinkers are seeking quality coffee, where the source and the story behind it adds to the experience. Capitalizing on this shift in customers' preferences means sellers need to emphasize the enjoyment and the experience of coffee—though education, hospitality and relationships.
While coffee lovers can be found in any generation, daily coffee consumption is on the rise for millennials. Millennials now account for 44% of total US coffee consumption, and are twice as likely as their boomer parents to use craft brewers at home. Seeking to bring the quality coffee home, these discerning consumers want to be able to find a coffee that meets their tastes.
With coffee consumption on the rise, the online coffee space is becoming quite competitive. We analyzed these competitors to see what was being done well, and how Javaya can differentiate themselves.
Javaya pushes freshness as its unique feature, but some of their competitors do this as well. Areas of improvement for Javaya include a personalized recommendation system, and a better way to spotlight roasters.
We interviewed with nine coffee enthusiasts from millennials to boomers to understand their coffee habits and purchasing behavior, and surveyed 68 people. Additionally, we interviewed four subject matter experts, which included two roasters, one cafe owner, and one coffee sommelier. Here's what we learned.
“When I’m in the grocery store, I’ll try to find the cheapest Chicago brand, something that I’ve seen at a coffeeshop before.”
Coffee enthusiasts tend to buy their coffee locally. Opting to buy from the grocery store, or from their local coffeeshop. Our survey results supported this, with only 34% having purchased coffee online. So while good quality coffee is important, so is the value.
“I buy things online if they’re from a brand I like or I’ve tried it before.”
Though only about a third have purchased coffee online, that doesn't mean they aren't willing to change their behavior. Those who buy at their supermarket or coffeeshop cited reasons including the experience of picking up a bag and being able to smell it, and also the convenience factor, since they were already at the supermarket or coffeeshop anyway. Though they also said they'd be willing to buy online for a brand they familiar with.
“I splurged on a $22 bag of coffee once because it was supporting a women’s cooperative, which is important to me”
While coffee is an everyday experience to our coffee enthusiasts, they also treat it as a luxury as well, and are willing to splurge on it if it also aligns with their values. Organic, fair trade, or supporting people, relationships or businesses they care about.
Millennials account for a large share of daily coffee consumption, with those in urban areas having a more cultivated preference for high quality coffee. They care about brands they are familiar with, especially those that share their values.
Coffee drinkers prefer to buy coffee in person due to convenience and the experience, but with more people looking to online shopping for convenience, there is an opportunity to change that behavior.
Millennials are a huge share of daily coffee drinkers, and those that use craft coffee makers at home. While millennials are accustomed to shopping online, the majority have not bought coffee online, and buy in-person.
Taking our insights from our research, we created a persona to help us keep our user top of mind.
Currently, urban millennials prefer to buy coffee at local coffeeshops because it’s an interactive experience—they can smell, taste, and ask baristas about their coffee.
To incentivize them to buy coffee online, they need digital tools to help them understand the coffee and the story behind it.
Show me the process behind the craft
Tell a compelling narrative through visuals and descriptions— Stories help people understand the uniqueness of coffee.
Know what I like, but give me options
Guide people towards their favorites but still allow them to discover new products—People have specific tastes but like trying things when it’s from a credible source.
Speak my language
Communicate to people in terms that they understand—As an everyday treat, coffee should be accessible, not pretentious.
Give me the full coffeeshop experience
Recreate the best elements of a coffeeshop online—People frequent coffeeshops for the friendly atmosphere and reliable coffee.
Using what we learned from our user interviews, we whittled down to 3 different concepts as a lean way to test with users before we dove into designing a solution. As the internet provides users with a platform to educate users, we wanted to learn whether they wanted to learn more about coffee, the roaster, or how to find the coffee they liked.
Knowing that users tend to go for coffees from brands they are familiar with and trust, we wanted to see if a more in-depth roaster profile would help users build that familiarity and trust, or help them find their roaster and coffee they want. Users want to know what makes something unique, whether it's the roaster, or the coffee. So a section for "Why we love them/it" was included.
To replicate the expertise that a barista provides in an in-person setting, we wanted to see if users were interested in learning more about what makes good coffee, why freshness matters, and the process of roasting.
I created this concept to learn how users would prefer to find their coffee. The first option utilizes a quiz to simplify the flavors from the coffee flavor wheel. The second option offers users to find similar coffees based on a brand they are familiar with. And the third option utilizes a flavor wheel for advanced enthusiasts to explore based on flavors on the wheel. This would help us understand how users would want to explore.
People need help understanding coffee. With so many options, people need a way to distinguish between them. Flavor details and descriptions guide people to a coffee that meets their needs, in the flow of their process.
People like personal guidance. Recommendations create a positive experience by reducing the burden of choice and building trust. People like the quiz format and found it fun, but want it to be designed for their needs, using language they understand. (Due to their preference for the quiz, we moved the similar coffee option and the flavor option to the backlog.)
Coffee reaches a broad audience. It is a popular beverage, but everyone develops their own preferences. While I thought we would need a unique concept to entice users, we found that when users are shopping for coffee, they wanted it to be easy to find what they want, whether it was coffee, or information about coffee. And no matter what, they wanted the buying experience to be accessible no matter their level of expertise.
Utilizing the base of the existing website (spoiler alert: they've since updated it) we incorporated the areas of opportunities we identified in our concept testing to build our prototype. This allowed us to A/B test with users to learn their preferences.
We simplified the navigation menu to improve information architecture, and updated the hero section to concisely explain Javaya's value proposition, and why that matters to the user.
We updated the filters to be organized by priority based on user research. Having expandable and collapsible filters help to reduce the visual clutter.
Designing the quiz, I used friendlier (and fun) language in the quiz that speaks directly to the user. The results offers options, as well as explaining the reason behind the recommendations, so the user is not left wondering why it was recommended.
Based on A/B testing, users found the prototype improved on the existing website. Allowing them to easier find the coffee they wanted. We found areas where users wanted more information (i.e. location of roaster on product cards so they could support local roasters), and areas where they wanted less clutter (top navigation). We also found that users wanted a more consistent product page, so they could easily find and compare information. And users continued to enjoy the quiz, but the language still needed further refinement, and wanted questions explained earlier on the page.
Taking these insights into account, we created an updated prototype of the website. A quick animated version of the quiz can be seen above. With the insights we learned from our users, we compiled a thorough usability & heuristic analysis of the current website as a stopgap for the client to improve as they took our findings into consideration.
Our client was impressed with our research and findings—especially with the usability improvements throughout the site, and being able to incorporate those changes rapidly to help users find what they want. While users enjoyed the quiz, further testing will be needed to refine the language and the algorithm behind the recommendations.
With our prototype and recommendations, I was able to work with our UI team to help them understand the rationale behind the design decisions we made, and ensure a smooth handoff, as they incorporated our improvements. Overall, we were super happy with our findings, and our ability to deliver value to our client.
Throughout this experience, I learned that users aren't always sure about what they want, but their actions and behaviors speak louder than their words. I found our biggest insights came from observing their interactions and how they navigated the website or prototype, and using that to guide our designs. Uncovering this gave me a huge boost to my confidence in my ability to lead and conduct user research.
I also found that it isn't always necessary to reinvent the wheel. While I thought we might end up with a design that looked vastly different from the existing site, the ultimate goal is to provide a better user experience, which in this case meant incremental changes that could be implemented rapidly. It's all a matter of trusting your research and letting those insights guide our decisions.