My Role

Scrum master, initial research, concept ideation, sketching, wireframing, prototyping, visual design, tree testing



Liz Mak, UX Designer

Ajani Oloye, UX Designer

Google Drive, Trello, Sketch, InVision, Optimal Workshop, Keynote


3 weeks

Especially Puglia is a startup that seeks to connect customers with independent farmers in CEO Michele ladarola's native Puglia, a region in Southern Italy.

Through adoption programs, customers are able to support their farms in exchange for a variety of Pugliese culinary goods, such as olive oil. cheese, honey and more. Our team was assigned to redesign their website to aid in their customer retention efforts.


Most purchases are one-time gift adoptions and customers are not signing up for recurring subscriptions.

Michele ladarola, the founder and CEO of Especially Puglia, is driven by the mission to bring the Pugliese lifestyle to the United States. However, his establishment was struggline to establish brand affinity and a simplistic user experience.


How might we engage users through Especially Puglia's website and content strategy to improve their experience in a way that will build trust and brand loyalty?


Our team decided to revise the information architecture and work on ways to build upon the current narrative that Especially Puglia is providing to their customers.

The current narrative does a great job of using design and products to foster a connection between their customers and their products, but there is always more that can be done to enhance the experience.



We started off with a screener survey to find users who had experience with subscription boxes.

We asked questions to include people who currently have a subscription to one of these services or had one and canceled. Further, we were interested in speaking with people who purchased a subscription as a gift to better understand this subset of the user base.


Our team conducted interviews with 13 individuals, asking them about their general experience with purchasing a subscription box for themselves, and experience as recipients/gift-givers of a box subscription from/for a friend or family member.

In total, we received 20 survey results, but we chose to interview 13 of those respondents. These interviews were done to help us gain insight into the kinds of customer experience that build trust and brand loyalty.

Here are the key insights we discovered from those 13 interviews:


We used these insights to paint a portrait of the typical user who is gifted a specialty food box subscription.

Jules is educated on sustainability and food sources, but wants to learn more. Her job allows her to afford products that can be on the higher-end of things, but she values quality as well.

From there, we created a journey map to understand what a typical specialty food box subscription recipient goes through, from receiving the gift to subscription renewal. Currently, Jules faces some issues that cause her hesitation to resubscribe, such as inconsistent product quality, poor communication with the brand, a perceived lack of personalization and a lack of personal connection to the brand's mission.


Our team performed an audit on the current website to determine whether it provides a good user experience. 


After analyzing the current website's site map, we found that the current content structure works, but a lot of useful content is stashed in the footer, so in fact, Especially Puglia's website is not deep enough.


Then, we conducted a heuristic analysis on Especially Puglia's website to understand whether the existing user experience meets best practices. From this analysis, we determined that the website generally uses good practices, but there are areas where it can be improved.


It is important to note that Especially Puglia's website did not fully meet the accessibility standards outlined by the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines in regards to items, such as text/background contrast. In light of this, we have made suggestions to meet the standard contrast ratio.


Especially Puglia's website demonstrates an ability to bring delight to its visitors with its clear vision and storytelling juxtaposed with beautiful images of scenery, products and the people who make them. Thus, we suggest to include more pictures of people in order to create a greater connection for users.



Based on insights from user interviews and the heuristic analysis, we created a list of potential features for the proposed design and organized them on a matrix to determine which features to prioritize.

We decided to prioritize the following features in our design:

  • Adding "Our Story" to the primary navigation to improve storytelling

  • Highlighting the adoption program

  • Making the recipes and "How It's Made" content more evident

  • Creating a page dedicated to subscriptions called "Subscribe"


We identified the key design requirements as a team to ensure we design with the same goals in mind. 

Here are the key design requirements we agreed on:


Our team conducted 2 rounds of design studio to consolidate our ideas for the essential screens through low-fi sketches.

During design studio, we individually sketched out ideas first. Then, we converged and refined these ideas as a team to create the final layouts.

We designed layouts for the following screens:

  • Landing page

  • About

  • Farmers

  • Adoption (the main page and the Adopt an Olive Tree page)

  • Subscription



We took into consideration the colors of Puglia to form our color palette for the website, while keeping the current typography.


Our team put together a moodboard to develop the website's color palette.


Based on the moodboard, we created our style guide, which we used to design the web pages.


Our final design embodies the art of storytelling, as well as the design criteria that we agreed on based on research.


Along with our new design, we proposed a new site map for Especially Puglia's website.

We recommend moving "Our Farmers" under "Our Story", as the farmers' stories are essential to Especially Puglia's story. Additionally, we recommend putting content not found in the primary navigation (e.g. blog, recipes) under "Learn More", as well as differentiating "Adopt" and "Subscribe" through added content. We also believe creating separate shop pages for categories of products will make items more findable.


Since we were looking for data on customer retention, we opted to conduct tree tests instead of the typical usability test sessions.

We performed tree tests on the current and our proposed information architecture for Especially Puglia's website by asking participants to complete the following three tasks:

Task 1: Adopt an olive tree.

Task 2: Sign up for an olive oil subscription.

Task 3: Find information on sustainable farming practices.

The results from the two tests demonstrated that there is a need for restructuring/reorganizing the current navigation, as improvements were seen in the second test across all three tasks. However, there is still a need to tweak and test the hierarchy of the subscription pages because although results from the second test showed improvement over the first test, the second task still had a relatively high rate of failure.



In addition to changes to the information architecture of the website based on the tree tests, we would like to speak with actual customers of Especially Puglia because we could not get in contact with them during our sprint. There is still a need to connect user needs and wants with the business goal of Especially Puglia, which is to create a membership/loyalty program to retain customers.

Some considerations for next steps include:

  • Conducting additional interviews with existing Especially Puglia customers

  • Enhancing newsletter and communication content

  • Continuing tests to further validate website changes (e.g. A/B testing)

  • Integrating membership details

  • Making it a responsive website


Working within the 3-week time constraint, while satisfying our client's needs, was a challenging task because it was difficult to maintain regular communication with our client who was on a business trip during the entirety of our sprint.

Regular communication with our client is important to make the most effective changes and needs for the business goal.


Through this experience, I realized that what captures users' eyes and turns them into potential customers is a unique story that builds trust for the business. Further, we need to do more research in order to make the most effective changes to Especially Puglia's website for customer retention.


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