Wells Fargo Internal Search Redesign
Note: Due to signing an NDA, app screens in this case study are NOT the real production screens. With permission from management, they are recreations with entirely different typography, colors, spacing, flows, etc.
Teamsites Search is Wells Fargo’s internal search engine. The design had not been updated in many years and the search results often received very negative feedback from users. I previously completed a separate research project interviewing 20+ team members on how to improve the search results. This study was a redesign of the search results page itself to make it more modern and improve productivity or the 280,000+ Wells Fargo employees.
This study involved two rounds of testing. Both rounds of interviews, prototype iterations, and Round 2 coding were done solely by me.
Team members use Teamsites Search as a primary way to find information within Wells Fargo (anything from company Holiday calendars to specific documents relevant to their individual roles). My project manager opened this project to study team member expectations around the search experience and understand the types of enhancements team members would like to have. Search at the time was also not optimized for mobile, so a large part of the research was to focus on that experience.
Benefit to Wells Fargo
The benefit to team members is an improved search experience that provides them with the information they need in a fast and user friendly way. In turn, with knowledge based off the results from a previous study I completed, improving the search experience could save Wells Fargo tens of thousands of dollars and hundreds of man hours per search term per year.
This project officially kicked off in July 2018. Our process always involves approval of all of my deliverables from my team, manager, and project manager in order to move forward at each step.
My first task was to create a research plan. My plan was based around the most pressing questions from my team and project manager:
What are the most and least necessary features of search?
Does the new prototype help team members accomplish their searches more efficiently?
What type of emotions do users have around the new prototype?
Is the new prototype organized, personalized, modern, and friendly?
I planned to conduct each 60-90 minute long user interview in 3 stages. Stage one was to have participants use the current search results page and get baseline data on how they feel about it, then I had them compare it to the new prototype, and finally I had them perform timed tasks using the new prototype. The tasks involved observing them searching for specific results, timing them, and gathering their opinions on the experience.
The next step was to create an interview guide with all the questions and usability tests to answer the research questions above.
This project was based heavily on user research (big win!). This round of research included the following:
16 user interviews for desktop design
10 user interviews for mobile design
6 usability tests per interview
Instead of giving you a book of text, let’s take a look at the initial search results page and compare it to the redesign.
Initial Search Results Page:
Now let’s take a look at the new search prototype I tested. In the image below, I have called out all the things that we tested and received feedback about in the interviews.
Desktop Prototype (Round 1):
The following changes to the desktop search results page were focused on during testing:
Top banner - language, friendliness, font, filters
Filters - relevancy, usefulness, etc.
Top Match - design, usability
Widgets - usefulness, order, relevancy
Link descriptions - usefulness, friendliness. The previous search results pulled descriptions from the first paragraph of each result page. The new prototype allows site owners to enter their own description text (like Google).
Icons - recognizability, design
Grouped results - understandability, usefulness. Results are now separated into groups.
Text/Font - friendliness, length, accessibility, usefulness. One of the biggest goals my PM focused on was “friendliness,” particularly the text on the headings.
Hide button - Usefulness, preference. This button collapses each group.
More button - Understandability.
Pagination - Findability, expectations on what appears on page 2.
Feedback button - Understandability, usefulness.
Mobile Prototype (Round 1):
The same features from the desktop prototype were focused on during testing for the mobile prototype with the following additions:
Filter scrolling - to understand if users knew they could swipe for more
Widgets - to understand if users knew they could swipe for more
Collapsed groups - understandability, scrolling preference
Round 1 Results
Here is a summary of the 26+ hours of user interviews:
Highly rated features of search the prototypes included Top Match, Related Searches widget, Acronyms widget, refiners, grouped results, and link descriptions.
Low rated features included “More results” section, webpage icon, Video results widget (desktop), and grouped results (mobile).
Team members were able to accomplish relevant tasks more efficiently or as efficiently with new prototypes.
User’s emotions strongly leads towards positive for the desktop prototype and positive and neutral for the mobile prototype.
User’s opinions leads towards organized, personalized, modern, and friendly.
Almost all participants believed the prototypes are an improvement over the current search.
The full presentation of the results took over 90 minutes and I presented them to the project manager, outside teams, and executives high up in the organization. Most of our hypotheses were validated but I recommended we continue the next round of research as planned with a new iteration.
The project manager was quite ecstatic and agreed with most of my recommendations to improve the prototype based of user feedback. However, there were a few aspects of the first prototype she really wanted to keep such as the conversational tone of the text and the “More results” section. We agreed I could move forward with my changes as well as perform extra tests on the aspects of the prototype she was advocating for.
Desktop Prototype (Round 2):
The following iterations were made to the Round 2 desktop prototype and were focused on during testing:
Shorter banner heading text - preference, friendliness
Filter dividers - findability
E-mail Us button - findability, usefulness, understandability, location preference
Related Links - Understandability. Changed from “Similar Searches” in Round 1
Widgets - order, usability, usefulness
Colors - preference, accessibility
Larger font size - readability, preference, accessibility
Website icon - understandability, usefulness
Shorter heading text - preference, friendliness
“More results” section - location, usefulness, understandability
Mobile Prototype (Round 2):
The same features from the desktop prototype were focused on during Round 2 testing for the mobile prototype with the following additions:
Filter caret - to understand if users knew they could swipe for more
Larger font size - readability, preference, accessibility, scrolling preference
Widget affordances - to understand if users knew they could swipe for more
The Round 2 research included the same amount of users as Round 1 with similar tasks and questions to compare the results easily.
Here is a summary of the 26+ hours of user interviews from Round 2:
Team members were able to accomplish the same Round 1 tasks more efficiently or as efficiently with the updated Round 2 prototype.
Improvements in opinions and times on tasks include:d Related Links widget, refiner design, grouped results design, mobile widget placement and affordance, webpage icon design.
Recommended changes included: “Feedback” button and location, removal of “More results” section, and moving forward with shorter headings and formal tone of text.
Final Desktop Prototype:
Final Mobile Prototype:
I gave the final PowerPoint presentation summarizing my findings 5 separate times to multiple teams and groups of executives. I received high praise for my findings and we got buy in to move forward with our design!
One important takeaway from this study for me was how to advocate for the user while a product manager has their own agenda. PMs can often hold on to their design ideas with a tight grip even if the data contradicts them. I found it best to discuss her ideas with an open mind, while offering to test them against other ideas based off user feedback. I wanted to advocate for the users as best as I could, and luckily, she moved forward based off their feedback on most parts of the design.