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David Austin Roses

Iterative prototype testing helped David Austin Roses develop the product page their users wanted

  • Who: David Austin Roses; the leading UK supplier of fantastic roses
  • What: Usability testing to review and update their online product page, on a budget
  • How: 2 rounds of observed prototype testing with on-the-day consensus discussion and slimline reporting
  • Results: A shiny new, user-evidenced product page


David Austin Roses (DAR) breed a vibrant array of roses, all with incredible colours and wonderful fragrances. Started 60 years ago by David Austin, they have been the leading producers of roses in the UK for many years.

Richard Austin, the founder’s grandson, heads up DAR’s marketing activities. He was keen to review and update the existing website to keep pace with growing online demand.

This was the DAR team’s first foray into usability testing. With a tight budget to work with, Richard was looking for a solution that would give him and his designer, Sophie, the right feedback to make changes, at a low cost. They also wanted to promote the benefits of user testing more widely within the organisation, where current awareness levels were low.

Specifically, Richard wanted to look at improvements to the rose product page.

What we did

Initially we worked with Richard to establish a project approach that would deliver results within the budget constraints. Key steps were to reduce the time dedicated to reporting by increasing collaboration between ourselves and DAR on the day of testing.

The first round of testing focused on three diverse prototypes, produced by DAR. We wanted to identify which prototypes – or more specifically, which elements of the prototypes – were most effective i.e. which were the most intuitive to use (by observing user behaviours) and what content made it easiest for customers to choose a rose.

Five testers were recruited in line with DAR’s key customer demographic, all of whom had varying knowledge of roses, ranging from beginner to expert.

We undertook the research at our research studios. One of our Directors took the lead on facilitation. Meanwhile, Richard and Sophie were joined by one of our UX Consultant in the adjacent observation room, where they could watch what was going on.

Throughout the testing, the back-room team reflected on what they were seeing, identifying the good and bad points of the various prototypes. As they day went on, the team began drawing conclusions, with support from our consultant, before rounding off the day with a facilitated discussion on the key points for improvement.

A few weeks later, there followed a second round of testing with a newly developed prototype. Following the same process, Richard and Sophie were able to leave this iteration with clear, user-evidenced conclusions of how their product page should be developed.

The outcomes

David Austin roses launched their new product page safe in the knowledge it was useful and usable.

We are pleased to have had the opportunity to work with Richard and Sophie again on a number of projects, including testing their online product category page and a hardcopy of their Handbook of Roses.

“Web Usability has helped to improve both our online offer and offline brochures. We have always been very happy with the service they offer and have found their expertise and facilitation skills to be very high quality”

Richard Austin, Head of Marketing

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