As the designer in charge to deal with the project I was meant to understand the data with the BA of the project and work with the designated development team (formed by front-end and backend developers as well as a QA) to get to the right solution, as well as ensuring it corresponded to a vision on where our product was headed.
Understanding the problem
For this projects we didn’t have time to research or user test properly, at the same time we knew making an improvement was going to be easy, the tricky bit was doing it in the best possible way.
We gathered data with the help of the feature team to be able to understand what the behaviour of our users is when they get to ‘no results’. This way we got a list of most frequently taken actions. For example, apart from leaving the page, most users decide to change their search radius filters when they face no results.
In addition to the gathered data, we had previous research that told us more about our users mental models, like for example what criteria was usually flexible and what wasn’t when looking for a property.
Designing & prototyping
After kicking off the project with the team and the involved people, were data and solution directions were shown, I headed off to ideate a few hypothesis that could solve the problem: from seeing if we could show straight away some extra related properties in that zero results page, to creating shortcuts for users to quickly amend their search and therefore get to see more relevant results.
Working collaboratively is great cause one gets to understand what ‘everybody’’s point of view looks like and how can it help. At the same time ideation takes place in all corners which could be beneficial for the product but, from a design point of view, communicating the pros and cons of solutions from both user and strategic points of views gets as interesting as challenging.
A good example here was that, it was of course easier to show results straight away to users so they never face the ‘no-results’ situation, as for example Gumtree does. But at the same time doing so may confuse the users or show results that were not relevant enough (specially if we consider that in our site people is looking mostly for properties to buy or rent mid-long term and therefore their filters are a bit less flexible that if you’re using Gumtree to find a toaster around North London).
After some iteration and get togethers with the team, we agreed to move on with a solution that would let the user take control of the next steps after no results, rather than trying to be too smart and make decisions on their behalf.