At UNIQLO, it used to eat up 2 days bandwidth on a single employee to produce a single email (design 1 day, dev 1 day). This was not scalable, and there was huge bottleneck as business wanted to send out more emails and more targeted emails – yet team was manually copying and pasting together email code from previous emails. Second, they lost so much time to manual bugs and code typos, as the team was graphic designers with no code experience.
This could definitely be automated. The main challenge was UNIQLO management wanted to spend $0 on software or licenses – solution needed to come from Free-ware.
What it does
The snippet library auto-generates the email code for you. All you need to worry about is Titles, Captions, Image file names, and specifying Image Height/Width.
How I built it
First, I established a boilerplate bug-free email template – took that and broke it into components. Then, using Sublime Text Snippets - created an editable snippet library based on the following components: Header Body 1 col Body 2 cols Body 3 cols Custom white-space Footer
*Leaving only the specific fields the designer would need to define as editable. This creates an error-free vacuum.
Challenges I ran into
We could not pay for any new software – solution restricted to free software that a Graphic Designer could understand and use. Onboarding friction / learning curve with team members due to new methodology - non-visual building Distributing updates to library had to be done manually
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
Before: UNIQLO shipped 5-7 emails per week.
During: At fastest, I brought the production time to build email code down to 5 minutes per email. This freed up massive bandwidth for team members to focus on Content, Quality, and integrating Interactive Features (such as live-polls, calendar events, countdown timers, and time-responsive creative).
After: UNIQLO shipped 17-20 emails per week.
What I learned
Designing an internal solution (while not the traditional product design which results in an app) is just as important for your team to operate effectively. As a product designer, your internal team is actually your ground zero user. The more enabled your team members are (less constrained by drawbacks) - the better the end product will be.
It's so difficult for your team to do things for your customers if they have so much friction just to get their basic job functions done. We have to solve these internal roadblocks first through workflow optimization.
What's next for UNIQLO
Better / Faster / Stronger only works if the gains and achievements are carried on. This however is also an organizational-culture challenge. I hope that UNIQLO will continue to look at and be motivated by their more nimble younger e-commerce competitors – to embrace a more user-first and technology-first approach internally.
Ps. I don't work at UNIQLO anymore! If you want to connect, please add me on LinkedIn ✌️