Over the past 10 years, my shopping habits have changed. I carry out most of my shopping online. The small town I grew up in offered little in terms of choice. Browsing online changed that. It offers me convenience, freeing up my time for hobbies and activities at the weekends. When I do venture offline, it can be a source of frustration. Case in point, on a recent trip to a supermarket for my monthly food shop, I found that most of the produce had moved, but not the signage. These kind of user frustrations are quickly resolved online, as you can go elsewhere. But offline when you have a trolley full of shopping, there is not much you can do unless you want to waste even more time. 

Being quite thrifty, I always look for a bargain when the opportunity arises to save money, so I use a number of cashback sites for this each time I shop online. 

In 2008, I registered with Quidco. It has evolved quite significantly in recent years. In fact, when changes are made to the site, they are keen to communicate these to me.

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*Click on the screenshot above for a message from their UX team on the new look

Both online and offline, visitors will take time to familarise themselves with the layout of a store, but what happens when they return at a later date to see a change in layout? 

We can only hope that organisations and their respective designers have considered the implications for the user, with clear signposts, taxonomies and simple user flows considered.

If anything, Quidco have not only simplified the layout of their account summary, but also communicated these changes to me...bonus points!

There are many excellent cashback sites out there, however Quidco is one which I can vouch for as my account summary below indicates:

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Keen to introduce our readers to the site, and to find out more, I spoke to Elaine, Quidco's Head of Design & UX.

1. Hi Elaine, please introduce our audience to Quidco. How does it work?

If you’re not familiar with cashback, I normally explain it to people like this. In the mid 90s affiliate programs were created to drive traffic to e-commerce sites. Site owners were paid commission for sending traffic to online retailers. When Quidco began, we charged members an annual fee of £5, then the commission Quidco would have earned was given straight back to the member. Quidco’s model has grown since then. We have both free and premium accounts, and in the past decade have returned over £400million in cashback to our members. 

How you use it is actually very simple. Visit Quidco.com and find a cashback offer or retailer that interests you; click through to their site and purchase as you normally would. Cookies track where you came from, and the retailer will send Quidco the commission, which is then passed back to you. We’re always innovating new features too, and now you can earn cashback on groceries and on High Street purchases.

2. How do brands benefit from registering from Quidco?

Consumers have evolved. In the past there was the belief that the target cashback audience were hard-core deal hunters. This really isn’t true anymore. People expect more from retailers - they want to feel valued by their favourite brands and get the best deals when they try something new. We give brands the opportunity to have targeted access to our 7 million + database of members, giving them a platform to engage with new customers and increase loyalty from their existing customers.

3. What is your role at Quidco and how big is your digital team? 

Our core business is digital, but we’re a small design team, with myself as Head of Design and UX, and currently 4 other Visual and UX designers. We’re very much in the heart of the company, facilitating other teams in achieving their objectives. 

Primarily that’s optimising the online and mobile products; working closely with the tech teams through implementation, but we also shape and define the Quidco brand, and produce onsite and email marketing campaigns.

4. What factors impact your decision to make design changes? Do you have in-house analysts, or do you use insight tools beyond Google Analytics? 

Some of our core objectives are around building long-term, engaging relationships with our members and building new products and experiences that meet changing shopping behaviours. This is key to the decisions we make on how to improve Quidco. 

Our in-house data analysts are able tell us about our members’ onsite behaviour; very quickly we can tell the impact of any changes we make and make any necessary improvements. We also get some great insight into shopping trends; for example we know that as soon as it hits around 4pm on a Thursday afternoon takeaway visits dramatically increase all the way through the weekend, or on a Monday morning people research insurance and finance services. 

We’re now doing much more user testing and face-to-face interviews as well to find out how our members use and feel about Quidco. This has given us some great insight that has helped shape how we design new features and functionality across the site, but it has also really shown how much people love what we offer. This drives us to give our members’ much more value where we can.

5. Are there any particular UX tools or behavioural insight tools, which you would advocate for designers to use? 

I think any tool you use should suit the context of the information and the context of the audience you are presenting to, so I’m always looking at new ways to develop insights and demonstrate findings. What I do advocate is to do this visually. Prototypes, customer journey maps, user and process flows and infographics are always much more successful at engaging stakeholders that spreadsheets or long-winded reports.

6. What is your driving motivation behind what you do as Head of Design and UX, and what continues to fuel your inspiration?

Quidco is a very simple product to use, but it can be difficult to explain. Clarity and communication is a big driver for me – I love getting to grips with complexity then helping people understand information more easily, whether that’s detailed business requirements, or a user interface on a site or app.

7. Why should readers of this post register for an account through Quidco?

Our members regularly say ‘it’s a no brainer’ – and it really is. A few extra clicks and you can easily earn hundreds of pounds a year on your purchases – online and on the high street. We’re continually improving our product to give members access to more retailers, and even more opportunities to earn cashback. 

Elaine McVicar - Head of Design and UX, Quidco 

Elaine has over 15 years’ experience both agency and client-side, working for a variety of industries, principally within the travel and tourism sectors. She specialises in user-centred design for complex interactive processes across web and mobile.

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You can follow updates from Elaine and Quidco on Twitter.