Ayssa Adnani of jamieoliver.com on a UX-focused redesign

Jamieoliver.com was redesigned recently, with a focus on providing an improved user experience, and tempting visitors to look at more than just recipes. 

It’s a tricky balance to strike, and the aim was to continue the focus on recipes, while attempting to showcase the other content and areas of the site. 

I’ve been speaking to Jamie Oliver Head of Online Ayssa Adnani, and Pixelgroup, who were responsible for the redesign. 

The three respondents are: 

  • Ayssa Adnani [AA], Head of Online at Jamie Oliver.
  • Nish Trivedi [NT], Strategy Director at Pixelgroup.
  • Dilesh Lalloo [DL], Head of Design at Pixelgroup.

Why did you decide to redesign the jamieoliver.com site?

[AA] It was time for a refresh! The site had grown organically around Jamie’s activities over seven years and it needed a review of its vision, strategy and user experience.

JamieOliver.com is all about food, inspiring and empowering people to cook, which is at the heart of everything Jamie does. The content grew rapidly over the years and it now focuses more on beautiful accessible food.

We are also introducing a How To section to support novice cooks with basic cooking skills.


What are the major changes in the new design?

[NT] We considered how Jamie’s businesses and initiatives can be represented using a ‘channel strategy’ approach. This was essentially to prioritise how users navigated through the different channels of Jamie Oliver.com and create a focus on the types of content, information and user journeys the experience should cater for.

The channel strategy allowed for individual businesses to gain more control of areas of the site, and organise specific content of user needs. In addition, this approach also helped with users understanding the structure of Jamie Oliver – and differentiate between content, campaigns, initiatives, products and restaurants.

Creating the ‘Jamie Oliver Feed’. A major consideration was to try and get the audience to ‘discover’ and ‘explore’ the vast amount of quality content that was available across the site.

In addition, taking into account the social presence of Jamie. We defined a strategy that augmented all this content into a single, dynamic feed. The principle behind this was to look at popular content items, including social media and have these dynamically presented on the homepage, by calculating how popular a content item was.

For example, if a recipe was viewed a certain amount of times, then this content would appear in the feed automatically. The content team also had the opportunity to push relevant content to the feed. This enabled the audience to quickly get an idea of the depth of the website.

Also, commercially, we created the feed to allow for contextual advertising based on Jamie content. There was the ability to ‘sponsor’ aspects of the feed to generate revenue for the business. 

The information architecture required a major overhaul, and now includes several layers of navigation. Many interaction principles were considered to help users navigate through reasonably deep levels of content and categories.

We introduced navigation paradigms that allowed frequent users to ‘jump’ to relevant parts of the site quickly through ‘quick links’ and the introduction of a mega drop down – to allow users to navigate through multiple levels of content

Introduction of video was a major consideration of the project, and having this contextually placed throughout the website. We understood from research that video would not only drive more traffic, but was likely to convert users to dwell more on the website and visit more pages. We solved this by restructuring how the videos were organised and presented on the site. 

The approach to blogs allows different businesses in our group to create content relevant to their customers. However, the website structure allows users to engage and interact with multiple blogs from a single place. We also considered how to contextually represent blogs into other pages of the site

Defining the content strategy was key to the success of the delivery. The major difference is the type of content that the audience can now consume. There are dedicated people who write specific content for the website, of which a large part is new content.

The experience needed to define how this content is contextually mapped to each other, and present users with content relationships and links – so that users can not only complete specific tasks (find a recipe) but discover supporting content around recipes. 

[DL] We also wanted to make jamieoliver.com it’s own entity/property, a destination where users would feel welcome like in the restaurants. We worked closely with the in house creative team who had already created a ‘shabby chic’ / formica style look & feel for the new site which Jamie was so fond of.

What were the major issues with the old version of the site?

[NT]

  1. Overall, the information architecture was not consistent, and given the level content, it was difficult for users to navigate around the site. 
  2. The website structure represented all the businesses in a single navigation, that did not help users differentiate between different parts of the business causing clutter.
  3. Content presentation and layout was limited and did not give users the opportunity to explore and discover content from around the website.
  4. Some older practices of website design were still being employed from legacy – and there was a need to create a ‘modern’ interpretation of Jamie Oliver as a brand online.
  5. The Advertising and commercial aspects of the site were distracting and were not contextual to the content of the site. We needed to create an experience that allowed for the commercial aspects of the business to continue with revenue generation whilst not distracting users.

    In addition, we wanted to create further commercial opportunities for the business to take forward using the new layout, navigation and experience

.

How did you identify areas for improvement? What kinds of tests did you conduct?

[NT] We conducted an internal review with key stakeholders within the business from the marketing, editorial, digital and food teams. We started by brainstorming around what JamieOliver.com stands for today and its vision for the future based on Jamie’s values and goals.

We identified and prioritised the primary objectives the website should meet moving forward and reviewed the old website against those. The branding and overall look and feel was out-dated and needed a refresh to fit better with Jamie’s style as it is today.



How does the site make money?

[AA] The website is an investment for Jamie and revenue isn’t the main priority. Advertising revenue covers the operating costs and helps us develop the best possible food destination online.

Can you give me an idea of traffic and membership numbers on jamieoliver.com?

[AA] JamieOliver.com receives 4.5m unique visitors each month and counts 300,000 registers users.



How do people come to the site? Do you get a high proportion of search traffic?

[AA] The majority of the traffic is indeed search traffic.



How have you built a community on the site?

[AA] We created a Forum which allowed members of the website to join and discuss all things food. We started by creating specific topics but we did not limit the conversation to those.

Members were allowed to create their own topics and threads as they would do on any other forum on the web. Jamie and his team interact with the forum members by answering their questions or asking them to share their knowledge of cooking or their opinion on subjects.

We built a close relationship with a small number of key contributors and most active members, and invited them to help us maintain the forums. It takes a lot of monitoring and some moderation to ensure the forums are a safe and trusted place for people to feel welcome to join, and we could not have done it without our key members.

Some of them are still on the forums daily after many years, they welcome new members and answer their questions. We also extended the functionality so our members can create their own their own blogs on the website, and we also created a ‘member recipes’ section which today counts over 5,000 recipes.

The community plays a crucial role in the vision for JamieOliver.com to be a trusted food destination online by providing anyone who is interested in food and cooking, from novice to expert, a platform to learn, share and be inspired.



Did you look at user behaviour on the site? How do people tend to use it?

[NT] We worked from an initial survey to gain insight to user behaviour and opinion. From this survey data, we defined segments of users and created personas that included user goals, demographics, and behavioural traits.

This was used to define key user journeys, and understand how the users wanted to explore and consume content on the website. We explored various tasks for different user groups and ensured that the information architecture represented these tasks. 

[DL] We also know from previous user tests and our own research that with food (like clothes or shoes) people navigated by sense.

They are drawn in by strong visuals and then look closer – much like you do in a shop – you find things you like the look of and then gravitate towards them, have a closer look, and it you’re still interested by look, feel, details, price etc you stay and start making decisions about buying/trying/saving/liking.

David Loftus’ photography is a huge part of the site. His photographs are world class, enticing people in to the site and explore for longer.

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Ayssa Adnani of jamieoliver.com on a UX-focused redesign

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