Whilst working with London agency Essence, Pret a Manger approached us to pitch our ideas for a new mobile site. As Pret is the ultimate on the go lunch for busy city-types it made sense to approach this from a purely mobile perspective.
This was at a time where terms like “mobile first” were being thrown around without any real consideration. Many designers, bloggers and marketing departments were claiming everyone should have a mobile ready site, but they couldn’t really explain why. With Pret we had a really good business case, as an increasing amount of the traffic to their desktop site was coming from mobiles and tablets.
Pret wanted a new and innovative way to market themselves on mobile and tablet devices, it was really a blank canvas. They had a few minimum requirements, such as showing the product range and being able to find the stores. Other than this it was up to us to wow them with a mobile optimised experience and brand UI in keeping with their current stores and offline activity.
When we presented the pitch we didn't actually show any design work. The focus was on the customer journey, and we showed some examples of mobile user experiences that would supplement, and enhance this. We also showed them how it would open up new revenue streams and brand awareness opportunities.
A long research phase started with questionnaires to the public on Oxford street, where our office was based and conveniently a large concentration of Prets! We made multiple visits to stores and spoke to staff members and customers. This gave us a good base to create some product principles. We decided that the app's prime function would be to drive them to their nearest store. If we could do this first off e.g. on the homepage, then we had achieved our goal "driving footfall to stores".
The experience would be supplemented by putting the friendly staff at the forefront (or storefront if you like). So not only could you find your nearest store easily, but you would also be introduced to the manager of the store. This added a face to the app and a human connection, it represented the kind of customer service Pret had spent years refining in store.
Furthermore, we came to understand how time had a big part to play our audience's behaviour. Some would go for breakfast, and some would only go in the winter for soup. These behaviour lifecycles gave us a top down view of the multiple touchpoints that were already being used, or where there was an opportunity to re-engage with customers. Using Geolocation and time-based events, we were able to create a more contextual, and rewarding experience for the user. After we had defined these high-level concepts and tech, we started creating multiple user flows. These spanned into the hundreds as we iterated again and again until we had something really succinct that felt suitably Pret.
The early UX work was done through a combination sketching, scamping flows and low-fi HTML prototypes. When this started to come together into some core sections, there was another research phase that needed to be carried out into the brand.
Although Pret had a very strong brand they actually had no brand guidelines and no mobile properties, apart from a failing app (that didn't even work!). So we took a fresh approach to the brand. We combined UX and UI principles with anything I could find, in the store, on the web, even in the bin!
From this, we created a UI toolkit and styleguide that would be the basis for every "view" on the app. We presented a few of the key userflows in an Invision prototype to Pret. The results were strongly branded but brought something new to the table, something they could re-use as well. It was also the first time they had seen a prototype they could play with on their mobile. This gave them the chance to do some user testing at their end and get the buy-in of the stakeholders.
From that stage we started building the web app and tried to keep it as simple as possible, driving people to stores at every opportunity but in a way that felt natural. There were many iterations and lots of walking around London in search of Prets! After the initial launch, we added features like in-store coupons and delivery. The mobile app was a great success and was nominated for a couple of awards too, we didn't win but were pleased to be recognised nonetheless.
Pret’s core values have informed each stage of the build... and to deliver what is best for our customers. This has all led to us creating a dynamic mobile experience that is truly innovative.Jamie McRonald, Pret a Manger
The site attracted 52,000 visitors and 235,000 page views in the first month with no formal advertising, a bounce rate of 14.85% (way below industry standard) and dwell time of over 4 minutes. Assets were cached using an HTML5 to keep the experience, super fast and even BlackBerry visitors were able to enjoy a site that worked on their phone (we optimised for this as the GA stats showed lots of city types used Blackberry's) – their average dwell time was 6m 49s!