Yahoo Mail

Unlocking Savings: Yahoo Mail Inbox Commerce

Leadership · Research · Design · Prototyping

In a world where email and commerce intersect, Yahoo Mail emerged as a pioneer, delivering an innovative solution to bring deals, discounts, and seamless shopping experiences straight to your inbox. With over 200 million monthly active users and a staggering 35 million mobile daily active users, Yahoo Mail recognized the potential to revolutionize the way people engage with commerce. This case study dives into the Inbox Commerce Project, revealing the key thesis, Yahoo's unique leverage, and the role I played as a principal designer in reshaping the landscape of online shopping.

Background

Over half of email opens were related to shopping, representing a substantial yearly purchase volume in 2016. However, this potential largely remained untapped in mobile settings and was not accessible through IMAP. Shopping was deeply ingrained in email usage, with a notable 35 million monthly email opens stemming from a mere 15 senders. Furthermore, there was a swift shift towards online purchasing in the consumer packaged goods (CPG) sector.

Problem Statement

How might we guide Yahoo Mail users everyday to savings?

Understanding user goals

We conducted multiple user studies to gauge user reactions to the new concept of having deals in their inbox. These studies provided valuable insights that aided us in refining a set of overarching objectives.

Reimagining the Inbox

Sketched out the initial concept to showcase the redesigned Yahoo Mail user interface. The goal was to introduce the concept of inbox commerce while maintaining the existing product's familiarity and preserving user behavior.

Onboarding users to the new world of Inbox Commerce

Presented deals and offers from the user's inbox in a clean, organized view. Users could easily explore them by categorization, assess deal quality, and browse by store, location, and recommended options.

A unique experience for category browsing

Crafted personalized experiences for each of the ten leading categories, spanning wellness, fashion, and dining, among others.

Exploring deals nearby

Designed the 'Deals Nearby' experience. The view opens a built-in map that shows deals at retailers in the users area. Stores can further be filtered by deal type and open hours.

Moments of delight

Designed subtle yet engaging microinteractions to enhance the workflow and make the product more enjoyable.

Personalization

As users discovered interesting deals, we extended our assistance in curating and tracking their preferred items. This active engagement contributed to the refinement of precise recommendations and a more personalized user experience.

Onboarding

Created onboarding experiences for new users when they first sign up to use the product. 

Themes

Developed themes for the app to support dark mode, enhance aesthetics, and improve readability.

Deal Extraction and Suggestion

Created designs enable discovery of interesting deals in the mailbox based on relevance, popularity, discounts, sale etc. Also created designs for post purchase assistance.

Category Visualization

Created three different styles to communicate deal categories. The team was spilt between the different choices. After testing with our users the image option was a clear winner. 

Content design

Content creation presented challenges as we often lacked high-quality product images. To address this issue, I established a guideline for addressing these situations by incorporating alternative solutions. This included displaying other valuable information, such as product offers, retailer logos, or placeholder images, when high-quality product images were unavailable or of subpar quality.

Reusability and consistency

Crafted an encompassing design system, complete with an extensive component library and well-defined UI patterns, which played a pivotal role in establishing consistency and providing a reliable framework. Subsequently, this effort was integrated into the Central Yahoo Design System.

Auto layouts

Created a constraint-based auto layout system that dynamically adapts views to different screen sizes. The category images keep their original aspect ratio but are resized so that the shortest height or width can fill in the given dimensions.

Launch

Yahoo Mail's Inbox Commerce Project revolutionized the way users engage with commerce through email. Leveraging its extensive user base and unique position in the email ecosystem, Yahoo Mail succeeded in unlocking the potential of email for savings and shopping. As the digital commerce landscape continues to evolve, Yahoo Mail remains at the forefront, guiding consumers toward a world of savings and seamless shopping experiences.

1.4

clicks per user on the deals view

1.56

number of deals each user clicks

2.23

number of deals each user saves

10%

users save the deals

Josh Jacobson

SVP & GM, YAHOO COMMUNICATIONSJosh worked with Vilas on Yahoo Mail

I heartily recommend Vilas as one of the best designers I've worked with. Early in the Yahoo Mail app redesign process, before I started working with him, our group was batting ideas around but had become a little stuck. Vilas joined and was an immediate catalyst for a new wave of creativity and idea flow. His hands-on prototyping style coupled with his own personal library of sketched-out UI elements really invigorated us all and led to new breakthroughs for the whole team. Thank you Vilas!

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