Lincoln Motor Company

An AEM migration exercise

From October 2016 to August 2017 I joined Hudson Rouge NYC as a UX | UI contractor to work with their web analysts, strategists and design teams across several initiatives for the Lincoln Motor Company. The focus of this case study is my role on the initiative to migrate the older lincoln.com web experience to the Adobe Experience Manager (AEM) platform.

Client: Hudson Rouge
Date: 2016-11-02
Services: UX, UI, Strategy

In a perfect world I build the exact car I want and get a price. It's rare to get a car with all the options you wanted

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Ben

In a perfect world I build the exact car I want and get a price. It's rare to get a car with all the options you wanted.

Ben

I've already done my research, it should be this price for this.

Robert

Methodology and Process

The four buckets below represent my approach to the work at Hudson Rouge

1. Research

Onboarding and research into the Lincoln brand, their competitive set and the two specific user groups of the Lincoln website experience, shoppers and owners. Later research came from several usability studies, user interviews (observer), vendor demos and Hudson Rouge web analysts.

2. Develop Insights

Insights for internal team work and client presentations were gathered by working closely with the Hudson Rouge web analysts and strategists (qualitative and quantitative data) in addition to ones gathered from the previous research step.

3. Develop UX | UI Recommendations

After the research and insights informed what solutions the pages would need I started the process of low fidelity sketches, white boarding and later computer generated deliverables. Except client decks with more visuals and large slides, the core deliverables created in this phase are internal facing only.

4. Deliver Assets

Once the wireframes, user stories and other deliverables had gone through any rounds of internal changes and then received final approval they were placed on a server and shared with the project manager for delivery to the design team for execution.

Identifying our challenges

When the lincoln.com website was redesigned in early 2016 (prior to me joining the team), it unfortunately didn’t start with the benefit of an audit and thorough UX process.

This meant while mapping older pages to the new AEM experience we now had a larger than anticipated list of problem sets, bugs and future feature requests.  A “problem set” within the context of this project is defined as UX, UI, a page feature, functionality or needed AEM component issues. Here are some of the areas I focused on due to finding some of the largest problems sets within them:

  • Navigation
  • Brochures, Manuals & Guides
  • Concierge
  • My Profile
  • Shopping Planner

How were these sections chosen?

  • Highest impact to the user experience
  • Part of existing experience and AEM migration
  • High gain, low effort opportunities (budget friendly)
  • Qualitative and quantitative data

Below are a few sample areas of the Navigation and Brochures, Manuals & Guides work shared with Hudson Rouge and the Lincoln client.

Navigation

A. Main Navigation

  • Does not have drop down menus so the user has to travel farther down the page to the site map for access to familiar sections within an automotive shopping experience
  • There is no language picker, only in the footer
  • “Shop” is not obvious automotive nomenclature to describe Build & Price or it’s process

B. VHP (Vehicle Home Page) Navigation

  • Does not allow a user to immediately download a brochure (high KBA) for the vehicle
  • The footer while on the VHP inherits the nameplates sub-navigation in place of the full Lincoln model list, but should not
  • The nameplate sub-nav does not have “compare” as a feature access point but should

C. Footer

  • Has Brochures, Manuals & Guides as one use case, under one footer bucket
  • “Language” switches the site into the Spanish version without confirmation or notification to the user

Early mouseflow and iPerception tests strongly suggests users are interacting with the footer as they would a traditional navigation with drop down menus at a much higher frequency than normal.

The Net-A-Porter 2017 online experience
Land Rover and BMW 2017

Main Navigation Considerations

  • One of the primary recommendations is adding drop down menus in the main navigation
  • Consider a visual gallery for the vehicles drop down sub nav if drop downs are adopted
  • Per tests, change “shop” back to “shopping tools”
  • Move “Build & Price” out of the “shopping tools” sub-navigation to a more obvious top level space
  • Consider other language changes and conducting a usability study and sprint for “retailers vs dealerships”

Brochures, Manuals & Guides

When I conducted the audit one area of focus was how the lincoln.com experience handled Brochures, Manuals & Guides. This turned out to be a feature  particularly problematic to the shopper and owner experience.

  • The experience bundles “brochures” and “manuals & guides” into one location and use case (on the shopper website) but Lincoln has another website specifically for owners and that’s where they go and assume they would find materials that may be associated with ownership of a vehicle, such as a “owners manual”. Out of the 10+ luxury automotive brands I audited Lincoln was the only brand that had both as a single use case and destination.

 

  • Brochures is not a direct download. When a user clicks the “download a brochure” button they are taken to a page that gives them a bullet point list of benefits in downloading the brochure. When the user clicks “next”, they’re shown a tab for either a “brochure by mail” (default) or PDF Download. If the user switches the tab to “PDF Download” they’re given the option to provide their email.

It’s at this point that the user can finally download the PDF Brochure if that was their job story.

Solutions

Top level statement if something sensible comes to mind.

Here are a few of the UX recommendations and solutions that were proposed for some of the issues above as well as some of the annotated wireframes from various migration deliverables.

lincoln-migrations-05
lincoln-migrations-01
lincoln-migrations-03
lincoln-migrations-04

Conclusion

While Lincoln has a lot of work left to be done across several of it’s digital experiences, there are already signs of change for a better user experience. Since having left the UX work and role at Hudson Rouge I have seen many of the recommendations I put forth but were in doubt due to budget reasons or politics, go live.

Here’s a few big takeaways from this project:

  • This is my 3rd AEM project in a UX capacity. I can’t state enough how critical it is for vendors and their clients to gain a complete and thorough understanding of the included features, core components, Wiki and flexibility within the AEM package/contract they’re considering. The out of the box components may not suffice for the vendors solution, the timeline for feature requests may not align with launch dates, there may be no more funding for extending the functionality of components and the time spent working with the AEM teams to get bugs things ironed out before launch should be well thought out or the experience will launch with UX, content alignment or misplacement issues and functional bugs.
  • Designing towards specific internal or clients goals versus treating the project like a holistic design system and experience carries more risks than benefits when sprints or agile are not a fit for a business models work flow and process to execution and delivery.
  • Avoid falling into the agency silo trap. The advertising agency model has not seen a full adoption to the type of environments that can be found in product design and service design shops, which many might argue approach problem solving in a more beneficial way to clients. Work collaboratively and remember, sharing is caring about the outcome of the clients work.
  • The automotive industry on a whole has more problems to fix that can translate as springboards into autonomous solutions than most of us realize, unless we’ve spent substantial time in or around this industry.
  • Smaller automotive brands are doing bolder and exciting things with smaller budgets due to a great understanding of all things digital.