When we shop online we expect to be prompted to register. But the difference between acquiring a loyal shopper versus a one-and-done buyer is how that user experience shapes the user's mental model. The user should want to create an account, which increases conversion and retention. I have worked to re-design the first touch-point for new shoppers by getting eBay out of the way and letting users make purchases.


The Problem

First-time eBay users come onto the site, search around, find the right item -- at the right price, tap the Buy It Now button and land on the sign in page, with options to go to registration or a guest checkout experience. They are not 'buying it now' and they do not have sign in credentials. This becomes a separate task for the user, breaking from the user flow, possibly stopping the user from making their purchase, and decreasing the likelihood of a user creating an account.

Our Solution

When first-time users tap Buy It Now, start the purchasing flow.

The idea is that a purchase is a connection between the site and the user. Therefore, by taking users directly to the purchase, eBay is connecting faster and creating a more delightful first touch-point in a user's buyer journey. Then, once the user has invested by making a purchase, eBay can follow up by asking the user to register, in light of how awesome and easy it was, and list out other great incentives, like tracking and loyalty points.

This project focused on pre-purchase experience.



Contextualizing. Making an experience more specific based on the situation's context and user's mental model can shape a more successful user journey.

No matter what path an new eBay user takes, they will experience the same thing, a break from the current experience, both task-wise and visually. So, we made the decision to update the registration experience one use case at a time.


Choosing a Flow. The vast majority of new users go through the full registration experience while in the midst of purchasing an item. This made it easy to narrow our focus on the purchase use case first, which was labeled Buy It Now.



What We Knew. Data identified two key points:

  • Users are dropping off throughout the end-to-end registration experience, especially on the Upgrade page
  • A large number of users already choose to go through the guest checkout experience


Collaborative Discovery. Through a collaborative effort, another designer and I conducted a cross platform heuristic of the first-time user purchase experience to identify the flow's pain points. (See Heuristic Breakdown, and Heuristic Overview)

At a high level, we identified the main problems to be inconsistency, miscommunication, and crippling functional limitations. (See Heuristic Insights)



Focusing the Problem. From the pain points identified during the heuristic evaluation, I focused my exploration on:

  1. Miscommunication
  2. The sign in page being too complicated
  3. Significant drop off before purchase
  4. Visually not engaging
  5. A lack of continuation post-purchase


Talking to the User. The four concepts were then user tested with InVision to see what users expected, what they thought did and did not work. (See InVision prototype)

Insights from the study - 

  • The expectation is to go straight to payments when a user clicks Buy It Now, leaning towards Guest Checkout First.
  • The Social Sign Up and Registration First models also work for users, they just achieve different goals.
  • The original design was never considered by participants, qualitatively justifying our departure from its current state.
  • The question becomes, do we want to prioritize getting the user to purchase or have them create an account?


Mobile Web. The opportunity to use mobile web was presented, as it is the fastest growing platform for eBay users. This positively constrained the design because it now had to fit onto a phone and could not include all the bells and whistles that desktop or native app might consider.




Explorations. Starting out with a broad range of concepts, I used a short internal feedback loop and technical considerations to narrow down to 4 flows.

The Entry Portal Page - the original designs, prioritizing sign in with guest checkout and registration as secondary options.


Guest Checkout First (GXO First) - moving the first-time user from the View Item page straight into the guest checkout experience.



Registration First (Reg First) - having the first-time user go to registration, as most current eBay users stay signed in for a year.



Social Sign Up - use social sites to condense the registration process, getting the user to purchase and creating an account.




    Iteration. Without being able to move forward with Social Sign Up, I iterated on the GXO First and Reg First models, adding two ideas, a directional page and using an email input to sort the user on the backend.

    GXO First iteration



    Reg First iteration



    Directional page



    Email First



    Stakeholders. After a stakeholder meeting with the head of the department, head of the product, the design director, and many other key stakeholders, it was decided that the goal would be to focus on the purchase, answering my question from user testing. (See Stakeholder Deck)

    Having decided on the main goal, along with some behavioral data -- showing the higher purchase conversion for signed in users --, 2 models remained:

    GXO First


    Directional page

    "Data shapes the hypothesis, but doesn't prove the concepts, that's why we need qualitative data"

    - Ben Mitchell, Design Director

    Testing for Implementation. Two rounds of unmoderated user testing were conducted with UserTesting.com to determine which concept would be implemented in production.

    In the first round,

    I qualitatively tested GXO First, the Directional page, and the current flow on new ebay users, comparing user performance, expectations, and if anything stood out. (See User Testing Insights Round 1)

    Results showed:

    • A GXO First approach met the user's mental model - users expect to enter in their payment.
    • GXO First met more than just a functional need - users were excited that they did not have to create an account.
    • Having made a purchase creates the first step in incentivizing users to register.


    In the second round,

    I tested GXO First and the Directional page, comparing how they work for existing users. (See User Testing Insights Round 2)

    Results showed:

    • GXO First worked universally for new and existing users.
    • Both concepts worked well for existing users - it was mostly just a difference in how existing users accessed sign in.
    • There was more room for interpretation with the Directional page.
    Screen Shot 2017-09-19 at 7.12.37 PM.png


    After reviewing the insights with relevant stakeholders, we would implement both, in order to quantitatively test their performance in production.



    Production Prep. With both concepts going into production, there were some design decisions that needed to be made.

    For the GXO First model, the only thing that needed to be determined, within the scope of the project, was the final flow and what the sign in banner would look like on the checkout page.


    For the Directional page, I needed to do a bit more work to determine what the page experience would be. 


    I narrowed the design to two concepts, a stand alone page and an overlay. Due to dependency constraints we moved forward with the stand alone page.

    Beyond the MVP

    Since we will no longer be registering users before making a purchase, we can utilize the post-purchase experience to entice and bring users back, working our way down the experience pipeline. The next steps would be to start exploring the guest checkout success page and guest purchase email.


    If you just want to take a look at the different pieces of research completed throughout this project, you can find them below.

    Heuristic evaluation decks used for discovery:

    The stakeholder presentation used when determining the goal of the purchase experience:

    User testing insight decks used during concepting:


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