Redefining The Economist subscription journey
I joined The Economist as part of a new dedicated future customer experience (FCX) team. The Economist identified many of their customers found the online experience disjointed and frustrating, leading many to unhappy churn.
The goal was to implement a seamless, cohesive and streamlined end-to-end experience. An integral part of this, in line with the businesses objectives was to dramatically improve subscription sales. A key part of FCX was improving the subscription journey from selecting an offer to registering and checking out.
I was the principal product designer working on FCX alongside a dedicated PO, scrum master and a business analyst. We worked with a large team of developers across two platforms; Salesforce and Limio which together created FCX.
Defining the work
I conducted hour long moderated interviews with 16 users. Looking at the existing subscription journey. The testing was broad but we started to establish and map out common themes using air table.
I grouped the comments into the areas of the existing journey: offer page, registration / checkout and confirmation. I then held a workshop with the team and stakeholders from the business. We scored themes and rated potential solutions.
Using user zoom I then conducted a series of un-moderated tests; using The Economist existing and target demographic. Questioning was directed towards themes we’d established, to validate or challenge ideas from the workshop. It was useful as we could play back videos of users interacting with the product giving accurate timings of users interactions and view heat maps.
I did a competitor analysis and established paint points in the existing journeys. I asked members of the team and stakeholders to comment on our findings.
- Better and clearer layout of benefits
- Clearer comparison of prices
- No differentiation of gifting and student prices
- Too much information on the page
- Poor accessibility on smaller devices
- Auto-renew terms unclear
- Metric: Decision making time averaged 3.35 minutes
- Clearer terms and condition
- Clear registration fields
- Progress bar to know where I am in the process
- Remove login and registration from checkout
- Continue button is confusing
- Checkout feels disjointed
- Payment type is unclear
- Checkout slow to load
- Metric: Bounce rate is high 57% at checkout
- Unclear if my purchase had gone through
- Confirmation didn’t load
- No clear confirmation of purchase
- No clear cancelation terms
I then started to map out user journeys and consider any pain points that would arise.
On the offer page we looked at having a combined approach showing digital and print + digital together for a clearer comparison and individual pages for subscription types. Currently the most popular subscription was the print+digital quartley with 35.8% share of subscriptions followed by the digital Quartley with 35.2%. The key push from the business was to increase Annual subscriptions and digital only subscriptions.
From here we then put together low fidelity wireframes and prototypes. We presented these journeys and prototypes to the developers to establish any limitations. Vital, as the end product would be built across two platforms and we’d need to ensure they interacted correctly. We then used user zoom for some initial un-moderated testing.
Validation and prototyping
I established the combined approach was favoured both by the business and decision making was quicker in user-testing. Design it did present a challenge, with so much information we wanted to avoid cognitive overload.
To help, I worked with a UX writer to keep wording concise, established a simple pricing strategy with the business for quick comparisons, gave elements space to breath and hide non-vital information on smaller devices. I iterated and tested throughout the design process.
Registration needed to be clear and I followed common patterns seen in competitor analysis.
We needed to keep this simple and reduce friction where possible. I opted for a one page checkout with pre-filled sections from registration and auto detect fields. We also introduced payment methods and design wise future proofed this section for future payment options (Google pay, paypal and saved details).
User testing had flagged a lack of clear feedback for the user after their purchase is complete. Details of their order being unclear was also a pain point. A requirement from the business was to create an MVP onboarding experience. Design wise I looked at the information architecture of the table and using typography weight / colours to give prominence to the vital information.
Prior to a big promotional push I looked at how we could improve the offer page.
I wanted to improve decision making time and increase Annual digital subscriptions. To achieve this I used typography with less weights / sizes and more space. This created a new hierarchy which put more emphasis on the pricing over the term. We also move Annual above Quarterly so this was pre-selected.
Results: Decision making time improved from an average of 03.23 to 02.58 minutes. Moving Annual above Quarterly didn't indicate to increase user selecting annual subscriptions. Further A/B testing was needed to properly test this hypothesis.
We early user testing navigating to gifting prices and know when they were viewing them was badly signposted. I created a tabbed version with different colour backgrounds.
Results: User found it easy and intuitive to use. User found the tabbed version quicker to use.