An Online Education Solution, Backed up by Rigorous Discovery Research

About the Client

BASF is an international chemical company who create, manufacture and sell pigments and resins used for painting vehicles/automotives. They are pioneers in their industry, leading to their investment, in 2016, of over £1 billion into Research & Development, to create chemistry solutions for a sustainable future.

Business Challenge

Our first step was an in-depth discovery process, specifically tailored to target the ideal user and to deliver the client’s business goals. After defining the client’s key success factors, we engaged with stakeholders, created user personas and specified intentions, to create a site that would deliver on specific targeted outcomes.

Our research aim was to evaluate how potential users of the system currently learn about and resolve issues with BASF refinish products. Through user surveys, telephone interviews, meeting face-to-face and speaking with technicians, we were able to identify key user personae. Pinpointing their goals, frustrations, motivations and personality types enabled us then to build a website that not only provided pertinent answers, but that also spoke to users appropriately.

Initial Strategising

The latest BASF products are intended for use across a variety of skill sets; as such, a range of allowances needed to be built into the new website. Accounting for variety, it was important to define what success ought to look like from the outset. The success factors (as defined in our initial strategy freeform discussion) in this case would result in fewer phone calls to the BASF technicians, indicating that users had been able to source the necessary information easily online instead. We focused on encouraging self-help troubleshooting, delivering detailed information quickly.

We also analysed the key stakeholders involved, aligning each according to their level of interest and influence in the project. This way we were clear on who to contact and who to please.

Discovery Process

On-site Research Workshops

After an initial core group workshop at CTI, we sent two of our lead team members to Germany, to conduct wider research. Meeting with key stakeholders beyond the management sphere allowed for a more detailed, well-rounded discussion. We were able to refine the key target personas after gaining an in-depth understanding of the products in their natural habitat: the body shop.

Individual User Interviews

Conducting individual interviews with a range of users, from painters to decision makers, field technicians to promoters, allowed us to identify the variety of skill levels that the site needed to cater for. One-on-one detailing is not always a part of our discovery process, but we felt the user-centric ambitions of this site warranted the specialised research. These interviews also enabled us to clarify what the users ultimately wanted the site to achieve and which aspects could use some development. Whilst this did require a translator at times, the insights gained were invaluable in ascertaining end goals and success factors.

Detailed Story Mapping

Story mapping provides the answerable end result for every website detail. Each additional module must answer to a specific target or goal, as defined in the user story.

The process begins by defining broad goals, before refining these into individual actions. Actions can then be grouped into a logical order and aligned with relevant personae. Our final story board combines hundreds of plot points, allowing us to prioritise key actions and to build a list of points for later development.

This process also enabled us to translate general business goals into manageable, specific deliverables, each aimed at fixing a personalised issue.

For example, in order to resolve troubleshooting issues in a fraction of the time, we needed to create content servers for necessary technical manuals, to provide an intelligent search module and to enable downloads; these steps would facilitate the transfer of the right information from BASF technician, to web content creators, and ultimately to the painters in the body shop.


As a result of our intensive research and discovery process, we produced an interactive prototype design. This enabled us to process and prioritise the vast array of information we had gathered and to present it in a tangible format. The prototype allowed for rigorous testing, further involving the intended user in the design and build process. After feedback, the next steps will be to develop the final, fully functioning site, ready for launch.