Located in central New Jersey, Salon Elan is a small independent business serving the Hillsborough and Belle Mead areas. Housed within an unassuming white stucco building off of Route 206, the salon never seemed to have a filled parking lot or talked about within the community.
Curious, I did some research and found their website. What greeted me was essentially a Microsoft Word flyer. Inspired by the opportunity to increase user experience, my usability report documents a redesign process for Salon Elan from preliminary research to proposed execution and solutions.
I started assignment of business, marketing, and user requirements. These sets of requirements would ultimately drive all of the decisions made for the redesigned website. Business requirements would dictate ways to gain revenue, marketing requirements to help sell and attract customers, and user requirements to ensure site visitors have a seamless and enjoyable online experience.
Once the requirements were set, a competitive analysis was conducted to get a better understanding of where Salon Elan’s website was lacking. Three competitors from the surrounding area were selected and analyzed for design strengths and weaknesses, as well as core and unique features. This would provide a clearer picture of the standard for salon websites and how they are typically organized.
Lastly, to better understand the Salon Elan’s user needs, I created a suite of three personas and scenarios.
Collecting Data & Conducting Research
To increase usability, it’s important to get close to the users. This might sound self-explanatory, but it’s surprising to discover how many businesses create “solutions” without even consulting the people they serve.
For the most well-rounded perspective, both quantitative and qualitative data should be collected. The quantitative data will allow for statistic-driven solutions, while qualitative data will allow for more creative, need-based solutions.
For this project, I employed a variety of methods to get feedback from real current or potential users of the Salon Elan website. Interviews, surveys, and diary studies were used to obtain information about the users demographics, psychographics, online browsing habits, routines, pain points, likes and dislikes.
To gain insight on how to improve the Salon Elan website experience, a card sorting exercise and heuristic evaluation were conducted to help inform a streamlined information architecture and more user-friendly environment.
Combined, these research methods would allow for a holistic view of what the typical user would want and expect from a salon website.
With help from a professional website development team, and a redefined brand, Salon Elan could drastically improve their business. The following are recommended solves for some of the key issues that the salon is experiencing:
- Move the website to a hosting platform like WordPress or SquareSpace for easy customization
- Include more photography to better represent the current and future clientele
- Use the website pages more intentionally, consider seasonal features and reworking content to fulfill user needs
- Remove hyperlinks from the website if they lead to other internal pages
- Improve recognition, recall, flexibility, and efficiency by conducting additional testing
While completely overhauling the website is an option, it is also possible to fix one thing at a time. Small improvements are still improvements! For the best value, Salon Elan should look to develop their website in phases to test new features while enhancing key aspects of usability.