Watch how PSA crafted their Grade Reveal experience and Collectors developed functionality for the Goldin Auctions website
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About the company
Based in Santa Ana, California, Collectors is the top company in the world for providing third-party authentication and grading services to collectors, retail buyers, and sellers of collectibles. The organization focuses its services on trading cards, sports memorabilia, autographs (through Professional Sports Authenticators or PSA for short), video games (via Wata), and coins (through Professional Coin Grading Service or PCGS).
Industry: Business services, Retail and ecommerce
Company Size: Mid-MarketRole: DesignCustomer Type: B2C or D2CRegion: North America
Key insights discovered for Online Submission Center 2.0
Increase to SAT score for users on the Goldin Auctions website
PSA is the top name in sports collectibles grading and authentication. The company receives cards, authenticates them, and assigns them a numeric grade from one to 10. Using this method, PSA processes approximately 50,000 orders per day.
To continue scaling their growth, senior leadership recognized that PSA’s digital experiences needed to match the company’s operational expertise and help preserve their reputation as the industry leader.
A breakthrough moment came when Collectors hired Senior UX Researcher, Nick Colvin—who had experience running the UserTesting platform at a Fortune 100 company—and assigned him to collaborate with the company’s top designers.
According to Nick, “In the past, we would design a digital experience in-house. We'd release it and wait to see if we got negative sentiments, and then fix it from there.” After Nick joined the team, however, Collectors’ Research and Design teams were able to focus their work on three critical projects for the business.
Another division of Collectors, Goldin is the Internet’s leading collectibles marketplace, offering a secure space to buy and sell sports and pop culture memorabilia, autographed items, and game-used equipment.
Using UserTesting to gather customer feedback, test participants helped Collectors perfect these elements:
How to bid or make counter-offers
Understand the prices and fees
The Research Team achieved this by investigating the following aspects and then adjusting the auction site to align with their preferences:
What do collectors like about the websites of Goldin’s competitors?
Can they easily save a search so they’ll receive notifications when an item becomes available?
What do they want to see in their email notifications?
Do they understand how to accept a promotional code?
Incorporating human insight into the relaunch of the Goldin website helped generate a 23% increase in customer satisfaction.
The gold standard in the collectibles space is an item graded PSA 10. PSA members submit their collectibles for grading and ship them to PSA. This takes place when they complete forms on the Online Submission Center. If members become frustrated and give up before completing their submissions, the company loses revenue.
By consulting with collectors, PSA hoped to improve the experience in the following ways:
Update the look and feel
Include more images of collectibles
Ensure people understand descriptions, including functions like valuation
Help site visitors understand how to use the prepaid shipping label
Consulting directly with collectors was indispensable to PSA’s work on the Online Submission Center. From their initial tests with UserTesting participants on prototypes to the digital experience the company eventually took live, PSA increased the task success rate of users from 85% to 100% and improved their overall user satisfaction from 4.12 to 4.62 out of 5. Across 11 studies, the organization discovered 17 key insights that resulted in UX updates to the Online Submission Center.
As Nick Colvin explains, “These are all areas we would have overlooked without human insight. While 85% average task success is a great starting point, it would represent 15% of our customers NOT being able to complete the submission flow, resulting in massive lost revenue when we take the Online Submission Center live.”
PSA customers had two options after PSA graded their collectibles: review the grades on an online spreadsheet or wait for their items to arrive in the mail. PSA designed Grade Reveal so that customers could recreate the magic of mail day and unveil their grades using a special graphical interface in the PSA app.
Working with UserTesting helped PSA to perfect the look and feel of the experience, especially the screen layouts and the swipe animation they had prototyped using Figma. PSA tested five iterations before the team settled on the one that collectors liked the most.
Jack Cowan, Collectors’ Director of Design, says, “I was at a card shop when Grade Reveal came out. The owners of the shop said they had not seen so much excitement since refractors (cards with a reflective surface) debuted 30 years ago. Grade Reveal floored them. Everyone who used it was posting online. They would screen record the experience, post it on Instagram, post it on YouTube. We even saw some eBay listings that showed the Grade Reveals.”
The day after PSA released Grade Reveal, app downloads increased by 237%.
Without this level of transparency, we wouldn’t get the input that we need in order to grow, in order to fail fast and iterate, nor to make our products and our services and ourselves better.
Dan Van Tran Chief Technology Officer, Collectors
PSA processes about 50,000 orders per day. UserTesting is our bridge to our collectors. It ended a lot of discussions that we were having and really centered our practices around our customers.
Jack Cowan Director of Design, Collectors
In the past we would design [a digital experience] in-house, we'd release it and wait to see if we got bad sentiment, and then fix it from there. Now every single product we are releasing runs through a series of iterations with users to ensure that we're building the right thing the first time.
Nick Colvin Senior UX Researcher, Collectors
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