PODS: Discovery

Discovery Case Study July 2017–October 2017

PODS came to KBS looking for a recommendation to improve their website and their digital strategy. We set up a multidisciplinary team to research their digital properties and make a recommendation.

We looked at the PODS organization as a whole, conducting stakeholder and user interviews at PODS' headquarters in Tampa. We talked to people from IT, Marketing, Customer Service, and some PODS drivers. We did rounds of user testing on their sites and looked at their competitors' sites.

Skills | Deliverables

  • User Testing
  • User Interviews
  • Competitive Analysis
  • Personas
  • Sketches
  • Wireframes

UX Audit Report

  • Conducted Usability Testing
  • Oversaw a UX Competitive Audit
  • Created an Interface Inventory
  • Developed User Personas
  • Wrote the UX section of the PODS Vision presentation

Core Team

  • Mark Reilly UX Lead
  • Tom Kozlowski Product Strategist
  • Jeff Gray Engineering
  • Dom Brown Brand Strategist
  • Michael Furst Brand Strategist
  • Katie McNish Producer

Usability Testing

Testing Plan

I wanted to test the user experience and the usability of the PODS site. I needed to observe users using it on laptops and smartphones as it was a responsive design.

PODS: UX Testing Plan

We created three tests and tested each on desktop and smartphones.

I also wanted to test a close competitor’s website to see what they were doing. Finally, I looked at PODS Self Service Portal, where customers can log in to update when and where their containers are delivered and to make payments. I wrote test scripts and scenarios and found users through usertesting.com.

UX Testing Scenario

Test scenario recap.

UX Testing Reel

Highlight video reel.

UX Testing Findings

Findings report per tasks of each test.

High-Level Findings

  • Users had a hard time learning what PODS offered
  • The site steered users to get a quick quote before explaining the value of their service versus their cheaper competitors
  • Users had trouble understanding how much of their stuff could fit in a container and exactly how many containers they’d need
  • On smartphones, all of these issues were greatly exacerbated
  • The close competitor was doing a better job on the desktop but suffered similar problems to PODS on smartphones

UX Competitive Audit


We evaluated direct competitors to understand what cross-shopping customers were seeing. We also identified patterns from best-in-class websites which PODS could adapt to go beyond their competitors.

  • Seven direct competitors
  • Seven best-in-class websites
Competitive Audit: Methodology

We looked at three different user mindsets: consideration, conversion, and post-purchase.

We conducted an expert UX walkthrough for each site, assessing the desktop and mobile experiences according to user mindsets. We based our assessment on a set of heuristics and performance criteria identified for each mindset.

Competitive Audit: Oscar

Oscar Health: out of category inspiration.

Competitive Audit Competitors

Overall scorecard of direct competitors.

Competitive Audit Heuristics

Heuristics we used to evaluate competitors.

High-Level Findings

  • Most moving and storage brands offer mediocre websites that fail to deliver seamless, intuitive, and relevant experiences online.
  • As customers go through the online purchasing journey, brands are creating obstacles instead of guiding users smoothly through the process
  • PODS has an opportunity to leapfrog its competitors by offering them a superior digital experience.

Interface Inventory

What is it For?

The interface inventory was a preliminary audit of the PODS.com user interface. It lays the groundwork for our future design system and module library.


I looked at the quote form widget on mobile as this is a key interaction with users.

I looked at the site on mobile, tablet, and desktop which roughly correspond to their small, medium, and large breakpoints. I documented their existing design patterns and how they reflowed at the different breakpoints. I added best practices for each section based on observations from testing and expert analysis.

PODS Interface Inventory: Main Navigation

Main navigation: at the three breakpoints.

PODS Interface Inventory: Homepage FAQs

Homepage FAQs.

PODS Interface Inventory: How It Works

The How It Works has three different designs.


How We Created Them

The user personas are a composite drawn from user interviews, observations during user testing, and customer segmentation and demographics that were provided by PODS' marketing department.

These personas reflected the four major user journeys that PODS customers take. If they’re moving locally or long distance, or if they need short term or long term storage, or even a combination of both. It’s this flexibility and control that sets PODS apart from its competitors. Each persona represents a different set of traits and behavior patterns, tied together by a common perspective.

Persona Janine

Janine is moving across town but needs to store her stuff until her renovation is over.

What They’ll Be Used For

These personas will inform our prioritization of what we will build on the new site. We’ll use them as a lens to help prioritize and sequence features.

Persona Debbie

Long-distance mover.


Long-term storer.

Persona Blake

A long-distance mover with storage needs.

Personas help us build empathy for our users and their goals. They help us focus on what’s important to help them achieve their goals. They encourage the team and the stakeholders to form a consensus on what’s important. They inform us and enable us to make and defend our design decisions. We can utilize them to measure if we have created the right solutions for our users.

PODS Vision: UX Section

Working Towards a Solution

At the end of the discovery phase, we reported our findings. We were able to show them, not only did we understood their problems, we had solutions.

Blake’s Story

We worked on a PODS Vision presentation outlining where we saw PODS could be in two years time. We used one of our personas—Blake—to show how, in the future, we would help him achieve his goals. He’s moving across the country for work. He’s living in temporary accommodation and doesn’t know where he wants to buy yet. He’s planning on storing his stuff in the interim.

PODS Vision: Relocation

Blake needs to move.

PODS Homepage

He checks out PODS.

PODS Vision: A Container

He’s exploring what products PODS offer.

He will be able to use the site on his smartphone and his laptop seamlessly. He starts on his smartphone and quickly assesses that PODS could work for his complicated move.

A few days later, he’s back on the PODS site researching what size container he’ll need. He uses the new Space Calculator to help figure this out. Once he’s added all his stuff, PODS can also send him with the right amount of moving supplies. He can even request some help packing up his stuff.

PODS Vision: Space Calculator

Using the new Space Calculator, he enters in his stuff and finds out what size he needs.

The Outcomes

  • We won the business—$2.9M—for the 2018 PODS redesign at the end of October
  • Presented the PODS Vision presentation in early October
  • Delivered the UX Discovery report as a standalone report at the same time
  • Outlined quick wins for the existing site to improve user experience before the redesign

My Role

  • Conducted and analyzed three rounds of user testing on both desktop and mobile
  • Created the interface inventory and personas
  • Oversaw the competitive audit
  • Created wireframes for PODS future state screens in the PODS Vision presentation
  • Wrote the final UX Discovery report

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