Project Roles: Project manager • UX research lead • UX/UI design
Prototyping Tools: Sketch • Marvel


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In teams of three, we were given the task of redesigning any mobile app. We decided on IKEA, due to

  1. Its relatively low rating (2.6/5 on the Apple app store), which indicated issues as potential that we could work with
  2. Our team having a network of people who shop at IKEA, who we could approach for user research

Quick Overview
of the Process

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About the IKEA
Store App... Today

At IKEA, the customer is at the centre of everything that the brand does, and the brand is working towards being more accessible to customers.

The app is part of IKEA's efforts towards that, and aims to support the shopper's in-store experience by providing:

  • A check list feature to keep track of items on the wish list
  • Provides shoppers with product and store information
  • Has a product barcode scanning feature to gather pricing whilst in-store, which works for small items but is not applicable for large items
  • Important note: it is not an e-commerce app

The App's
User Persona

Tech-savvy Jeremy was our selected persona - newly married, and looking to buy a sofa for his new home.

After the empathy map was drawn up, the persona's key attributes were quantitatively validated via n=31 surveys, and further fleshed out through n=11 qualitative interviews.

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Jeremy's Customer Journey & Paint
Points with IKEA

User interviews aided in mapping out the customer journey. To recap, the app's main objective is to support the shopper while they are in the IKEA store:

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However, user interviews revealed that customers begin their browsing and shopping process earlier than whilst in the store. 

While the original intention of the app was to support the in-store shopping experience, shoppers' key needs and pain points experienced expand beyond that into the pre-store consideration stage and during the purchase process.

Key frustrations identified in these three stages (derived from user interviews and subsequent affinity mapping):

  • Hassle searching and finding items that fit dimensions for the home
  • Difficulty visualizing the item within the context of their home
  • Not being able to find product information
  • Spending more time than they would like during the tedious payment process (e.g. scanning items for payment)
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Key Issues with the App and its Impact on Jeremy's Experience

Through heuristic evaluation, five key problematic areas were identified

Competitive evaluation of the apps HipVan and Houzz revealed that they do not have these issues, which elevated the urgency to address these areas on the IKEA Store app.

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These issues therefore have an impact on the user experience and flow on the app, specifically impacting three key areas of the user flow. These areas are also problematic areas of the customer journey:

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In addition, usability testing for the app across four scenarios also revealed that most tasks were difficult to accomplish, or led to failure:

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We sought to build an app which addressed these issues and help bridge the gap in the customer journey - allowing IKEA customers to intuitively browse and quickly locate products that fit their needs, and utilize the app to ease the payment process.

The revised app takes into consideration major customer pain points across different stages of the customer journey, and aims to support users beyond just the in-store experience.

Alongside this, we also looked to address the problematic areas of the user flow.

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Feature Prioritization and Considerations

Key priorities:

  1. Address customer pain points in the customer journey and user flow
  2. After speaking with IKEA staff, barcode scanning made sense as a second phase roll-out for the business - it is currently in place for small items but not large items, making it a more cost-effective option for IKEA to roll out across the store. 
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Side note:

We had also considered image recognition as a replacement feature for the current barcode system - it could not only help users identify items. but also add to the novelty factor.

However, there were certain limitations, hence we decided against it and went with barcode scanning instead:

  • Limited accuracy with higher chance of failure
  • Takes more time for the image recognition request to be processed as compared to barcode scanningPotential social awkwardness for the user when attempting to use
  • image recognition in a crowded store, bumping into other shoppers or waiting for them to pass
  • Requires more time and money for the business to implement, since it is a completely new feature 
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Improvements were also made to resolve the heuristic issues with the app:

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Key Iterations

Users testing the redesigned prototype did not appear to have issues with the key task scenarios. Instead, feedback for iterations revolved around the following areas. 

Match between system and the real world

  • Moved the ‘Add to checklist’ button to above the augmented reality button for greater impact
  • ‘Invoice barcode’ label was renamed to ‘Checkout barcode’
  • Splash screen: segmenting the greeting by English then Swedish'

Visibility of system status

  • Added a status column to the purchase history, while the IKEA system checks and confirms the purchase

User Interface

  • Camera icon: a brighter blue for greater visibility

Usability Testing: Current vs. Redesigned App

Usability resting on the redesigned app was done for the same tasks tested previously, with a higher usability score and quicker completion timings achieved by users. We achieved positive results with scenarios based on the new features of the app.

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Potential Features
for the Future

Never stop improving! Future app features could include those that are relatively low effort/expensive, yet are still relevant to users by easing pain points in other parts of the customer journey - specifically: 

  • Pre-store consideration: AR measuring ruler.
  • Assembly: self-assembly videos
  • Loyalty & Advocacy stages: IKEA membership
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Challenges Faced and Pivoting from that

We had an initial idea to include an inspirational moodboard as a feature, where users could select items from the IKEA catalogue, mix and match them together in a template of an empty room, to create their ideal room.

Our thought was this would create excitement and enhance the sense of inspiration for shoppers, to let them bring their own 'showroom' to life - similar to what the physical IKEA showrooms do for shoppers.

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Instead, user interviews revealed issues when we tested the concept:

  1. It is not a practical feature for shoppers - their rooms are already filled with their own furniture and items, so an empty room for a template is not very helpful or inspirational to them. 
  2. Shoppers are not looking to invest too much time in the browsing or consideration process - they would rather browse a catalogue; they do not want to spend much time putting together their 'ideal room'

We had to pivot, going back to the drawing board, and refocusing on IKEA shoppers' needs and pain points, so that we could elevate existing features or add new features to improve the experience. 

The resulting features did well during both usability testing and qualitative interviews after the redesign.


Key Takeaways

Users ALWAYS come first in design thinking.

In future, first speaking with users to gather meaningful insights, followed by building relevant features that meet their needs, would allow for more meaningful outcomes - for the business, product and users.