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Ryan E. Day

Customer Care

Should User Experience Influence Your Business Strategy?

Bespoke jewelry company Gemist says yes

Published: Wednesday, October 14, 2020 - 12:03

In our ultra-connected world, user experience (UX) can be a life-or-death matter for consumer-facing businesses. User experience is so critical that savvy leaders integrate UX/UI (user interface) design with product development and even consider UX when shaping business strategy. Madeline Fraser, founder and CEO of Gemist, is one such leader.

“I came up with the idea for Gemist when I tried to design myself a custom ring,” explains Fraser. “That experience showed me that the custom jewelry process is manual, antiquated, and in need of a big refresh. Gemist was born from my desire to let the consumer drive a process that should be custom, personal, and won’t break the bank.”

In fact, the entire team at Gemist is involved with this UX-integrated-with-business-model approach, including Katherine DePaolo, product designer for Gemist. DePaulo was kind enough to answer some questions regarding how Gemist uses UX as a differentiator in the field of bespoke jewelry.

Quality Digest: It’s obvious that Gemist leans heavily on UX to engage customers and influence product design, but let’s talk about strategy. In your mind, how does UX translate to business strategy?

Katherine DePaolo: Product design should always be developed in tandem with business strategy—never shape it but enhance it. Our leadership team will identify priorities for the business, and our goal is to set a road map of product features that can achieve those strategic goals. Sometimes there are compromises with a small startup team, but our goals are generally met, and we often iterate on product design based on data and user feedback. It’s always evolving and exciting to see how things develop as the business grows.

QD: It seems like the advent of social media has catapulted UX to the forefront as a factor in forming a brand differentiator. How does Gemist’s UX mesh with its value proposition for customers?

KD: Gemist’s UX procedures consist of features and experiences that reinforce Gemist’s unique value proposition. That value prop is what engages and excites customers. Gemist is not a standard e-commerce platform for jewelry. Customers have freedom of choice and the power to design with Gemist. They can browse products like a standard e-commerce site but also filter by metal and stone type. You can also customize SKUs by price based on material differences, like gold filled vs. gold. And you can even design your own piece of jewelry in our proprietary online jewelry designer. The UX we established is there to support those product offerings. It’s exciting and new, but it also feels familiar, so there is ease of use as we educate our customers around our different ways to shop.

QD: Do I understand correctly that your UX also influences your web and product design?

KD: That’s true. Our unique offering also influenced our user interface design. Given the wide range of stone and metal options, there is quite a rainbow of colors available on the site and app. We wanted the brand and product design to reflect those colors in an upscale way. We have color blocking of sections with subtle animations to give the site life and personality. Our product is high end, but we like to have fun with jewelry and not take ourselves too seriously.

QD: How did you come up with this UX strategy?

KD: We came up with our general UX strategy by bringing my e-commerce experience to the table—foundation setting. I established some best practices and basics for Gemist. But Gemist is not a standard e-commerce company, so some of our strategies have developed over time as we solidified our business strategy. The company started with rings only, and now we’ve expanded to earrings. Those two SKUs have so many differences that require separate UX approaches. That catalog expansion impacted backend work as well as front navigation, and general browsing and shopping behavior. There is no clear answer to this question because this is a new type of jewelry company. The UX strategy comes as we develop new concepts or identify new problems. But each day is exciting as I work with the team to find new solutions and we problem solve together.

Discuss

About The Author

Ryan E. Day’s picture

Ryan E. Day

Ryan E. Day is Quality Digest’s project manager and senior editor for solution-based reporting, which brings together those seeking business improvement solutions and solution providers. Day has spent the last decade researching and interviewing top business leaders and continuous improvement experts at companies like Sakor, Ford, Merchandize Liquidators, Olympus, 3D Systems, Hexagon, Intertek, InfinityQS, Johnson Controls, FARO, and Eckel Industries. Most of his reporting is done with the help of his 20 lb tabby cat at his side.