UX Advantage 2015: Reinventing the PayPal.com Experience

Bill Scott, VP of Next Gen Commerce, PayPal

– 4 years at PayPal
– key accomplishement: reinvented “check-out” process – slight variance in conversion is a lot of $$$
– war room: 2-3 designers, 3 engineers, 3 product folks (balsamiq mockups from new CEO); prototype in a day; usabilty testing within a week; whiteboard to prototype, no specs and such
– forensic investigation of existing design process; create things, throw over the wall
– need executive support + ground-swell from the folks on the ground; have to have some principles you believe in; organizations are set up to maintain the status quo; shared understanding between all functions of how you get product out the door; continuous customer feedback; adaptive to current situation, not rigid playbook; “not sure what I’m going to do, but this is what I believe”; wisdom in crowds; many people want to do the right thing; dogged persistence + humility and improv
– PayPal experince in 2011 felt like 1999
– adjust the playbook as things change
– principles that drive the playbook: get engineering, product, and design working together, other functions like legal as well (legal became a design team); always make sure you ask what problem are you trying to solve; get customers involved (field research, user testing, etc)
– put a smart team together, soak them in the users’ problems, you’ll have a good product
– when from 500 people on design team to 10 reallly strong cross functional people
– how do you start working with a new culture when you start the job: people are a common element of all orgs (we’re all messed up in different ways; each has an agenda/self-interest); don’t sacrifice principles or the product; sometimes make a key decision successful and don’t be in the forefront; don’t worry about who gets the credit; identify those few people in the organization who won’t change, but have to route around (and hope for them to leave)
– how do get executives to support you: speaking the language of the customer is speaking is speaking the language of the business; UI layer is the experimentation layer; “tweetable moments” sound bites; moving from culture of delivery to culture of learning; where multiple hats as necessary, come from each peson’s angle; connect at base need level
– organizational structure influence: who you end up being in exec staff each week affects the whole organization; real work happens across organizational boundaries; identify where the connections aren’t happening; did 100 interviews in the first 45 days, across all parts of the org at all levels, for a short a time as 30 minutes; organizational map; lots of weird overlaps in a large organization; learn a hell of a lot; apply design research methods to changing the organization; then diagnose and intervene
– what did you discover about design in those interviews: design and front-end engineering were not well-respected; developers (engineers) vs “web dev” (wrote templates); changed “web dev” into “user interface engineers”, bring in good people and solve hard problems; on design side, many different leaders with different attitudes; design done at the end to make things pretty; new leadership came in and helped make the change
– how do you get alignment among various UX teams that don’t report into the same places in org; PayPal was trying to create a pattenr library (really becoming Pattern Police); if the core design team isn’t solving real problems for those other groups and helping make them better, they will fail; start thinking of those other teams as customers, understand how they work, and improve their work; make them more successful and they will embrace you
– does it get political around design at PayPal: 18-19 anti-patterns on Lean UX (http://www.slideshare.net/billwscott/lean-ux-antipatterns); different actors play a big role; “genius designer” (usually from Apple :)) – won’t hear usability feedback; need a dose of customer/user reality
– can you do something through hiring: need design leaders who’ve worked with engineers and product; some from agencies and such retreat back into their studio
– how did you get the company to change from long-planning process to lean ux: if you don’t have high-level support giving you carte blanche (like he did at PayPal “make us love usability”), you need to create a sandbox to try something and show the difference, hopefully something important
– how important is evangelism: coming to PayPal, lots of front-end engineers were leaving; had to change the story; lots of presentations but CEO wanted the message of the change to be heard publicly; got in trouble with PR a few times
– transformed in 6 months with 7 people what 100 people couldn’t do in 4 years (moving to new technology stack)
– any resistance to war room, and has it propagated to other projects: president got them the best conference room and offered the board room; results are best when people are co-located and right next to each other (less than nuisance distance)
– how do you deal with the disruption to existing flows when an outside firm is brought in from the outside: intervene and ensure that a) real problems are being solved and are the focus, and b) collaboration across the groups must be maintained, and c) the deliverables from the outside group need to be understood, consumed, and used
– stripe was founded by folks who tried to use the paypal API and said they could do better; PayPal didn’t have enough fear of disruption; as long as we engage and enable every type of transaction, we win; can’t obsess over the fear; payments is a hard problem
– most exciting thing coming up that you can talk about: next gen commerce – enable people who don’t have good livelihood now to get access to money through loans and such; working with the unbanked and underbanked; equal access is exciting

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