John Dozier and Christian Manzella, Lowes.com
As one of the Event Directors for the Triangle UXPA this year, I’ve learned that there is a little bit of magic that goes into each event.
The Lowes.com event was born when one of our Advisory Board members recommended reaching out to our neighbors in Charlotte, specifically Lowe’s Home Improvement. Looking at my LinkedIn, I recognized that I was connected to a UX Researcher at Lowe’s (John Dozier). I reached out to John and, to my surprise, an event was born.
On Wednesday, June 20, 2012, approximately 30 Triangle UXPA’ers filled the Training Room at Railinc. John Dozier and Christian Manzella (Sr. User Experience Architect Manager) led a fascinating talk about the Lowes.com UX process. The Experience Group for Lowes.com was revitalized about two years, which led to the creation of specialized groups, including UX research. Today, the UX process is much more mature; Lowes.com introduced a Chief Customer Officer on the Executive Management team in April 2012.
The Experience Group at Lowes.com consists of many job titles, including:
- Visual Designers
- Interaction Designer
- Content Strategists
- Content Editors
- Front-End Developers
- User Experience Architects
- User Experience Researchers
The Experience Group primarily uses an Agile-like methodology. Lowes.com has three layers of Agile: Strategy, Planning, and Development. The Strategy layer is for brainstorming/discovery and should have very few time constraints. The Planning layer is where ideas are refined and documented. The Development layer is when the output of the Planning layer gets coded.
John and Christian covered a variety of topics. Here are some of my favorite nuggets:
- If using Agile, consider an Agile coach. Ask if they have experience with UX (if they don’t, then you may not have the right coach).
- Make your workspace collaborative. Remove tall cubicle walls and add whiteboards, paper, post-its, and markers.
- Stick wireframes on the wall to encourage feedback from introverts.
- Adobe Test & Target and UserZoom are used regularly for Lowes.com. Adobe Test & Target supports multivariate and A/B testing. UserZoom is for unmoderated remote usability testing.
- Realize that not everything will get coded and not everything gets shipped. It’s ok!
- Send as many of your employees to UX conferences as possible. Do not send only managers that are not doing any research or design. But it is still important for management to be tied into the UX community so that they can provide support when it is needed.
- “Always advocate for the user” (this is one of the Experience Group’s guiding principles).
As of writing this, Lowes.com still has job opportunities listed on the Triangle UX Job Board. All job opportunities are in Mooresville, NC, approximately 20 miles north of Charlotte – check out www.lowes.com/hireme/index.html
Andrew Wirtanen is 2012 Director of Events for the Triangle UXPA. He is a User Experience Specialist at Atlantic BT in Raleigh, where he focuses on usability engineering, interaction design, and information architecture. Follow him on Google+ and at @awirtanen.