UX Reflection: Patterns and Flows
How social distancing made me a happier online grocery shopper.
I’m sure there are plenty of articles out there now starting with “Before the pandemic…”. Probably just as many as there are hipsters that liked something before it was cool. I think I just dated myself by talking about hipsters, sorry millennials. Hipsters were millennials before it was cool.
Before the pandemic, I was already socially awkward. And I didn’t like grocery shopping. So when curbside pickup for groceries became a thing, I was all too happy to pay the service charge, plus a per-item markup. By doing so I got to see just one happy person on my shopping trip. (I don’t know why the curbside pickup people are so happy, but they are. It’s just a fact.)
Way better than wading through a sea of unhappy people as I grab my essentials … and Betty and Veronica comics.
The grocer in my area was early on the scene and I quickly became a regular.
Now, it wasn’t all sunshine and roses though, there was frustration. Like when I wanted three bananas for my family of three. Which trust me is enough because two of them either don’t like bananas or prefer their fruit in gummy form.
And I got three bunches of bananas.
Guess who was real popular at work for bringing banana bread? Someone else I’m sure, somewhere. But not me. I threw most of them away because I don’t like them more than a day or two old.
It’s no sea of carrots, but still seems wasteful, and that’s just not me.
All that to say, while it wasn’t perfect, I was committed to avoiding people that I didn’t pick to be around.
I would go back and forth for a while, sometimes shopping online, and sometimes sending my husband. It worked. Then when 2020 hit the fan, it was an opportunity to find a silver lining, however thin.
I decided on a whim to try out something new. I think if I got one more .18 lb steak, or a personal size bag of Doritos when I thought I was ordering the party size, I was going to give up on eating altogether. Plus the added benefit of not even having to get in the car was too good to pass up. I’ll pick up grocery bags outside of my front door any day!
Instacart starts very simply. When I log in I see a page of beautifully simple cards with My Stores right at the top. The logos are clear and I can see a few details about my previous trips. No judgment, but hey, your last order was 2 days ago. What did you forget?
I select my store and am immediately greeted by my old friends (aka past purchases) and I can click to instantly add them to my cart. (Did I just figure out how they got their name?)
As an alternative, there are simple menu options across the top including Shop, Departments, and Savings that allow me to navigate to specific categories, or search for the latest deals. I’ve made an entire week's menu starting on the Savings page. No shame in my discount game.
As I’m shopping, I always have access to my shopping cart. Just a click on the shopping cart icon tucked up in the corner and it pops out in a side menu where I can see how much I’ve spent, and make adjustments to quantity and preferences. A lot simpler for everyone than when I used to get buyers' remorse in the middle of a trip and would stick items on the nearest shelf rather than putting them back where they belong. I’m not proud of that, but I’m just saying, everyone is better off if I leave the picking to the professionals.
As I wrap up I’ll head to Checkout and stop at the “Got everything you need?” page. I’ve come accustomed to this. It’s not a new design pattern by any stretch of the imagination. I can order a pizza and they’ll assume I meant to add cheesy breadsticks. I usually have triple checked my list by this point so I can just click to “Continue to checkout”.
From there it’s an accordion of efficiency. A quick review of my address and an expanded date and time picker for delivery.
Each selection automatically refreshes the results on the page. Too late in the day for today? Pick Thursday and see what’s available there.
Then a multiline text field for Delivery Instructions expands below as delivery time shrinks to just “Delivery time, tomorrow”.
“Leave at my door if I’m not home” is fine, I don’t go anywhere these days so it’s not gonna happen but, hey. Continue.
Phone number for chatting with the shopper and driver. Or emergencies, not sure.
Payment is stored, but I can totally expand it to change it if I need to.
If I want, I can expand the final section to review my cart and relish (pun intended) in my efficient shopping and wise selections. Despite how it may seem, I do also eat vegetables and fruit and brush my teeth… when not eating Doritos, steak, and pizza.
The final step is a quick question, “Done?” followed by “Complete your order and enjoy your night.” I’ll take that call to action to heart.
Place Order. And it’s done.
I have been pleasantly surprised by my Instacart experience. I appreciate that they employ familiar patterns for selecting items and completing my shopping. I don’t have to guess where I’m at in the process or what’s next.
Also I really really really hope that I haven’t jinxed it by writing these kind words.