Forbidden Planet

E-Commerce Information Architecture

As a second UXDI Project, I was asked to design a new pop-up website for Forbidden Planet and a specific persona— a comic con, anime, comic book, etc. shop). During the IA design process, we would be conducting a competitive analysis, user research, user testing, sketching and untilimately a clickable prototype for our design. All research methods that we have become very fimiliar with and aware of their importance in any design project.

One of the largest sellers of comic books, graphic novels, science fiction, toys, and associated collectibles in the world.

After visiting the average size store itself, I was curious to learn how such a small store-front was the front runner in the NYC market. Especially after talking to an employee who was explaining the layout of the store and why they featured figurines and toys up front and the comic books in the back. This was just after talking with a customer who said she went there to purchase the second book of her grahic novel series.

“Our main customers are tourists so we like to pull people in with a catchy window display and then draw then to the comic and graphic books in the back.”

Card Sorting

We were given 90 products from Forbidden Planet and asked class mates to openly sort them however they felt each should be categorized. It was interested to see how much of a guessing game it was in terms of trying to figure out what a product even was.

Card sorting helped being the thinking process of what categories would go in the global and secondary navigations. After only being able to conduct an open card sort, I realized how (too) many suggested categories you have to work with and where assumption starts to come in when moving onto next steps which is to build a global navigation (and secondary) using a sitemap.

As I stated, my sitemap was created from card sort findings, looking at competitors global nav bars and creating it for my persona and her needs (and some assumption).

Competitive Analysis

Not having enough information about competitors or the store itself, I conducted a competitive analysis of each competitors websites. I found that competitors were Midtown Comics, Image Anime and JHU Comic Books.

First in note format, I was jotting down general notes about each websites home, product and item pages. It was hard to come up with categories for a competitive analysis because I wasn’t only commenting on features, but on structure, display, clutter, and random thoughts. What I did start, and find first was that Forbidden’s competitors all had global navigation across the top while their main navigation was on the leftside.

I common trends of competitors (strengths) and found an opportunity for improving Forbidden’s Global Nav. In comparison to Midtown Comics and Image Anime, Forbidden Planet did have a readable, organized and simple homepage. And not to mention a speedy, checkout. I tried to stay consistent with that and came up with some sketches of each page (click) in the check out process.

Sketching / Wireframs

The first persona I picked was Trung and began to draw on the whiteboard for an “End of Summer” sale pop-up website. I then changed my persona to Daria where I began to sketch with pen and paper. My process looked something like this:

Once I was able to come up with my first iteration I was unable to get a user test for feedback on missing features, missing pages, suggestions and feedback. The route I went was to compare my website with competitors and noteable e-commerce websites such as Amazon, Warby Parker and Urban Outfitters.

What I found/added: no back button, add option to return to shopping in case they want to add more to cart, add review options for each product as well as ability to share and post on social media, add reccommedations for different products along each step, add shipping options/price.

User Flow

Once I had my first iteration I began to create my user flow based on each landing page and click to get there. I ended with finding that the ideal flow would take 6 clicks. Next I need to compare user flows for competitors. Also having a more thorough comparision of my competitors check out process, I will be able to see what I can add or take away from my current flow.

What’s Next

There were many important steps I missed along the way that resulted in a large amount of assuming and strict online comparision. User testing is the essential to move forward with any design and without it is almost guarenteed a failure. I was way too caught up on the original findings of the industry, what Forbidden Plant was all about and taking way to long to move forward on processes that would help me learn that. I was told in the beginning that being unfamiliar with the business was a good thing because I would have no prior assumptions. Turns out, I was assuming at almost every step of the process.

Solution = Timebox. 
Biggest lesson learned=Feedback from each step (card sorting, user test) needs to be done multiple times. This also means documenting each day and what worked, what didn’t and what I stuggle with. I have been doing this but it gets lost in the mess of notes.

I am taking way too long on putting information into the tools we have to use and perfecting how it looks given the time I have. I need to really familiar myself with Invision, OmniGraffle and Sketch before project 3 and become familiar with the templates that are available that I believe make it much easier and quicker to create

Overall I need be better organized. This means start digitizing my notes, findings and creations each day and get feedback from instructors each and everyday. It’s clear how easy you can fall behind when you think you have it and you dont.

I am excited to move forward and put what would have been a real life catastrophy (not meeting the project timeline and goals on my end) behind me. Fail often with your design, not your obligation as a client’s UX designer.

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