Smartbox Group

User Research & User Test with Smartbox Group

User research
User test
Project management
3 projects, each lasting 2 months
Head of Digital Experience
UX Design Lead
UX Manager, Mobile & Partner Apps
Software Engineers

Smartbox Group, now a sector leader, is the first organization to have marketed gift boxes. Headquartered in Dublin, it operates in 11 countries. With 7 million experiences sold per year for an annual turnover of nearly 500 million euros, Smartbox Group employs 1,100 people across Europe, and over 41,000 European partners rely on them (hotels, restaurants, wellness centers, outdoor activities...).

Italian website:
Smartbox mobile app: Google Store, App Store

The touchpoints that make up the Smartbox service are the website (translated into 10 languages), the mobile app, and the physical boxes sold in a diverse array of retail locations, from supermarkets to bookstores.

Smartbox Group has therefore selected our agency for our deep knowledge of the Italian market: given our proven experience in user research and the ability to interact effectively with the local target audience, they have entrusted us with the task of exploring Italian users' interactions with their website and mobile application.

The entire project was managed by communicating with the client in English, remotely, and was based on Smartbox's awareness of the vital importance of user research to guide informed and responsible design choices. This has strengthened our position as a strategic partner in their development in the Italian market.

From March 2023 to January 2024, we conducted three distinct research sessions for Smartbox Group, allowing us to thoroughly analyze the entire purchase and use funnel of their online products.

  • First research session (March 2023): We evaluated two website prototypes, created in Figma by the client and related to two different purchasing approaches: a guided journey and an exploratory catalog experience. Each concept was examined separately by user groups to compare their reactions and preferences.
  • Second research session (September 2023): The focus was on Smartbox's current website. We tested different variants of its pages (Homepage, product page, and list) with the goal of understanding the impact of these changes on the user experience. In this specific case, among other things, having multiple versions of the Homepage with a few different details proved very useful and effective. The idea of using a method called the Five seconds test allowed us to observe what caught the user's eye most in that brief moment.
  • Third research session (December 2023 - January 2024): We focused on Smartbox's mobile app, aiming to understand how users, highly accustomed to using mobile apps, interacted with E-commerce and Travel sector apps. This study was intended to gather insights for developing a new vision for the official Smartbox app, crucial for booking vouchers (with 50% of vouchers being used through the app).
Research and analysis on Italian target audience of the purchase flow and use of Smartbox products, from website to mobile application.

In every phase, we worked closely and agreed with the Smartbox team to define the criteria for user selection, ensuring that the sample accurately reflected the Italian target audience. This selection process was adapted in the last session to focus on users with intense mobile app purchasing activity.

Through these sessions, we not only gained valuable insights into user behavior but also provided Smartbox with concrete data to guide their digital development strategies.

A continuous mutual understanding

Since our first project together, each new initiative has been an opportunity to strengthen our mutual understanding and refine our working processes. The effective management of time and budget has marked the path of these research sessions, serving as key indicators of our joint success.

Our efficiency in responding to Smartbox's needs was based on a well-structured kickoff phase and meticulous preparation, which allowed us to quickly dive into each new project.

Main stages of our process

  • Kickoff: Definition of the project scope, objectives, target audience, and timelines.
  • Targeted recruiting: Through a specialized agency or our own network, we select participants who best represent the target audience.
  • Research preparation: We use FigJam to draft research scripts, facilitating smooth collaboration and immediate sharing of feedback through comments and digital post-its on the prototypes' interfaces, where present.
  • Weekly Iteration meetings: To maintain alignment among all stakeholders and optimize project timelines, ensuring progress according to the established plans.

Collage of images showing different stages of the testing and analysis activity carried out on the Smartbox website and mobile app.

Overcoming the Remote Testing Challenges

Conducting remote testing, especially for mobile apps, presented unique challenges, including managing screen sharing and limited face-to-face interaction. Despite these difficulties, we identified effective solutions that ensured the success of the testing sessions.

Challenges Faced

  • Smartphone screen sharing: We implemented clear procedures to facilitate screen sharing by participants, overcoming initial technical difficulties. It's anything but simple and straightforward.
  • Communication: Through Zoom Webinar, we maintained high-quality communication, ensuring that participants felt comfortable, even in the absence of direct eye contact.
  • Backup plans: We developed alternative strategies to manage potential technological hurdles, ensuring the continuity of the data collection process.

From Insight to Action

Our approach to analyzing data collected during testing and reporting begins with a precise definition of guiding questions, followed by effective clustering of feedback to quickly extract meaningful insights. We then organized and analyzed the collected data, transforming it into concrete actions and development strategies for our client.

Key elements of our research approach, from preparation to reporting

  • Research question definition: Before even starting on an interview script, it's necessary to define the questions that will guide the collection, analysis, and presentation of data.
  • Report format: It should be clear from the beginning what medium the report will be delivered on, while remaining open to possible changes in direction.
  • Clustering and analysis: Clustering feedback allows us to identify trends and patterns in the data, facilitating the extraction of relevant insights.
  • Dovetail as a research support tool: The use of collaborative platforms like Dovetail enhances analysis efficiency and enables smooth sharing of results with the client.

Accessibility initiative:

In addition to the planned work, we undertook an accessibility analysis for some key pages of the client's website, such as the Homepage, the list page, and product pages. This effort aims to raise the client's awareness of the importance of accessibility, suggesting improvements that could make the site more inclusive. Indeed, our analysis provided the client with a series of insights on how to make the site more accessible, highlighting cross-cutting improvements that could be applied throughout the site or vertical ones on specific pages.

The evolution of the provided documentation

As our understanding of Smartbox's needs evolved, we refined our documentation and reports, adapting our techniques to meet the specific demands of each project.

For preparations, we favored the use of Miro, FigJam, and Dovetail, essential tools for organizing information and facilitating collaboration. Miro and FigJam emerged as dominant shared workspaces, allowing us to annotate client goals and needs in real-time. We opted for Dovetail for the effective tagging of collected data, while Google Docs was soon replaced by more agile solutions for tracking interview questions and managing prototype links on Figma.

These tools served as catalysts in the feedback collection and analysis process, with Miro and FigJam providing a visual platform for aggregating notes and observations directly next to the reviewed prototypes.

The Tangible team during an analysis phase of the Smartbox website.

In this way, the client never faced technological or temporal barriers to accessing the information collected. They were able to read what we discovered in real time, not only thanks to direct access to the notes but also during the interviews, thanks to the use of Zoom Webinar.

Client feedback guided a transition towards more visual and less verbose reports. The demand for immediacy and concreteness led to a preference for images, gifs, and concise diagrams to illustrate insights and conclusions. This approach made our reports not only more accessible but also more impactful, facilitating a quick understanding and application of the results. The integration of these visual elements transformed our documentation into a more direct and effective means of communication, significantly improving knowledge transfer and strategic action by the client.

Active engagement and adaptability

The exploration process with Smartbox not only marks a critical preliminary step in listening to customer feedback towards a significant improvement in online consumer interaction, but it also underscores the company's commitment to innovation and customer satisfaction.

Our collaboration with Smartbox has demonstrated over time how, despite challenges posed by time constraints and geographical distances (between us and the client, and between us and the interviewees), it is possible to achieve motivating results.

This project with Smartbox attests to the importance of an innovation-oriented mindset, coupled with genuine customer engagement, not just as a strategy for improvement but as the true driver of a successful digital transformation that benefits both parties.

We were delighted to work with Tangible. Their expertise in conducting user testing in Italy allowed us to gather invaluable insights that directly informed, not only the designs that were being tested but also, our design strategy. Their professionalism, attention to detail, and commitment to delivering actionable results were truly commendable. I look forward to collaborating with them again in the future.

Frank Gaine

Head of Digital Experience

Photo of the team sketching on some sheets

Want more information about this project or would you like to discuss a similar project for your business?

Enter your name

Enter a valid email address

By sending this request, I declare that I am of age and that I have read the Privacy Policy