Design Strategy / Leadership
WIX, Tel Aviv Design Studio
Templates Team Lead
In 2010, I took a leap of faith and moved to Tel Aviv. After a year of teaching yoga, learning Hebrew and eating all the hummus, I was approached by a product manager who was a regular in my yoga class, from a start-up called Wix. After a few intriguing discussions, I signed on to join the freshly formed content team, having no clear idea what I was being hired to do, but knowing that this company was doing something exciting and I wanted to be a part of it.
I was right.
I soon realized what I was there to do. Wix was building website templates, but their greater mission was to provide tools to small businesses to help them grow their web presence without the need for coding or to hire a professional developer. But the templates were generic and nonspecific. They may have looked stylish and modern at first glance, but dig a little deeper and you'd find that they were all variations on a few themes with minor differences . And furthermore, they lacked the kind of ready-made content that could help an inexperienced user to make it unique.
How do we give people who are not designers or engineers, the confidence to build their own website?
How do we gain their trust and demonstrate that we understand them, their industry and the needs of their specific business?
The motto of our team became:
We must be our users biggest advocate.
We studied how users were actually using the templates, opening hundreds of real user websites a day. We identified fascinating patterns in user behavior.
The same templates were consistently opened but eventually abandoned, sometimes immediately but sometime after hundreds of edits and saves. What was so attractive about these particular templates that made people want to open them, but that led to them eventual giving up on them?
The best results often came from users who had started with a template that was specifically designed for their type of business.
Templates that were technically identical, having the exact same layout, content and site structure, performed completely differently when dressed up with different images, colors and fonts.
Users gravitated toward the familiar. If visually, a template resonated with their industry, whether through the use of color, font or images, that was the one they were going to choose. Perhaps they didn’t have the time or imagination to take something that didn’t exactly fit the look of their industry and make even simple aesthetic changes.
The pictures we put in templates mattered. They weren’t just placeholders. Users could not find high quality images on their own and looked to us to provide them with the perfect images right from the start.
These two insights guided the work of my team, which was to give users exactly what their business needed – not a generic template that could be used for any type of business, but a content-driven and visually specific website that they would simply need to customize, not design.
This is how research became the foundation of our work. We not only saw ourselves as responsible for following trends in web design and UX but for each new industry vertical we tackled, we dove deep, looking at thousands of websites and talking to users to make sure we understood exactly what it needed to look like and how it needed to function. We translated design standards to the studio and made product feature and functionality requests to the many different product teams we collaborated with.
INITIATIVES, COLLABORATIONS AND ACHIEVEMENTS
More robust and stylish galleries for photographers
Dynamic menus for restaurants
Functional booking app for hotels
EPK (Electronic Press Kits for musicians)
Partnerships with external content providers like Shutterstock, iStock, Offset and Stocksy in order to elevate the quality of visual content offered to users
Commissioning unique icons and vector art from independent artists and creating proprietary "Wix Exclusive" videos for use as backgrounds
Regular Template / Editor Usability Testing
Using robust data to understand template popularity in order to replicate the success of certain templates (and learn from the low performers)
Led content management re-organization in order to provide users with more relevant search results and accessible images
Reorganization and renaming of Templates Categories
Responsible for hiring and management of my team
The four years I spent at Wix taught me the importance of leaders who value open communication, lift up others, lead by example and believe that we all share in our successes and failures. I learned that I love leading when I can also be in the trenches with my team and that how you show up every day is perhaps the most important determinant to the success of a team.
A core value of mine was reinforced: collaborating with diverse and multidisciplinary teams to achieve a clear objective is the fuel that ignites my creative spirit, just as it did during the entirety of my career in theater.