Katy Wyman
Nov 13, 2017 · 6 min read

Customizing Individuality

Project Overview

Team Etsy redesigned the Etsy app experience and added a few features that helps its customers to easily identify sellers who take requests for customizations and that also allow those sellers to easily take requests via a seamless interface.

My Role

User Research | Designer


This project was completed in a 2-week span:

  • Week 1 | Screener Surveys, User Interviews, Personas were identifies, Problem Statement was developed.
  • Week 2 | Affinity Map & Synthesis, Studio Session, Mid-Fidelity wireframes were designed, Usability Testing part 1, synthesized results and went back to the drawing board, developed Hi-Res wireframes and conducted Usability Testing part 2. From those results, a final clickable prototype was designed.

Limitations, Parameters, Resources, and Materials

Understanding the Etsy buyer and seller was most important for the Etsy Team to conclude what their problem statement and goals were, in order to reach this information, we developed a Google Screener Survey and distributed the site on Etsy forums and Etsy Facebook groups. Most of our resources derived from online Etsy groups which were prime locations for us to reach and communicate with our target audience.

Initial Problem Statement

One major pain-point that Etsy Shop Owners encounter is their Ability to make it easy for Etsy users to easily identify shops that take request for customizations and the follow-up communication with custom requests. How might we offer a more varied and easy process for customizing products to both the seller and buyer?

How did you confirm or refine your initial assumptions?

The initial assumptions were confirmed after conducting User Interviews. Going into the interviews, our main goals were to discover how our Target Users were experiencing the Etsy app. We wanted to identify the love and pain-points on the Seller & Buyers perspective.

User Interviews

Team Etsy interviewed a total of 9 individuals, 3 Sellers, 6 Buyers.

Interview Questions for the Buyer:
Topic: Types of use and Frequency

1. How many items did you buy from Etsy in the last month?
2. How many items were customized?

Topic: Navigation

3. How do you find items that meet your needs?
4. How do you discover what can be customized?
5. Can you explain to us your navigational process?

Topic: Pain/Love Points

6. Tell us about a good experience with buying from a shop.
7. Tell us about your worst Etsy buying experience.
8. What do you like or dislike about your Etsy experience?

Topic: Communication

9. What ways do you currently communicate?
10. How do you engage with the Etsy community?

Topic: Exterior Platforms

11. In what way do you use other platforms to discover / advertise unique items?

Topic: Customization

12. Tell me about the last time you ordered a customizable product.
13. How did you communicate with the maker?
14. Were you able to receive the product by the time you expected?
15. How was the overall experience?

Topic: Pricing

16. How do you gauge whether you are going to get what you are paying for with a customization?

Topic: To Etsy

17. How do you feel about your ability to express your needs?

Interview Questions for the Buyer:
Topic: Types of use and Frequency

How often did you check your messages sent to your shop per week?

How many items have you sold in the last month?

How many of these items were customized?

Topic: Navigation

4. How do you currently identify products in your store that are customizable / alterable?

Topic: Pain/Love Points

5. How do you feel about your business presence?
6. What do you like or dislike about your Etsy experience?

Topic: Communication

7. What ways do you currently communicate?
8. How do you engage with the Etsy community?

Topic: Exterior Platforms

9. In what way do you use other platforms to discover / advertise unique items?

Topic: Customization

10. How do you feel about the way you communicate with your clients regarding customization?

Topic: Delivery / Shipping

11. How do you set delivery expectations?

Topic: Pricing

12. How do you determine the pricing of your customization?

Topic: To Etsy

13. How do you feel about your ability to express your needs?

Wrap Up

User Quotes:

“I like the variety of customizable things on Etsy” (customer and seller)

“Etsy should work on item cusomization and specialization.”

“I don’t receive information about categorization on time.”

Both customers and sellers are frustrated with the limited means to express customization.

How might we provide buyers and sellers a more streamlined and nuanced communication regarding customized items, so that Etsy feels personal and efficient?

Research Informs Design

  • Bri & Elizabeth would like to easily specify their product needs > Encourage modifications and nuanced relationship between customer and seller.
  • Seller Bri needs an efficient way to list a product in her shop > Reduce existing 15 screen sequence and streamline it.
  • Buyer Elizabeth and Seller Bri want to communicate easily > Make messaging intuitive and accessible.

Design Studio (MoSCow)

Mid Fidelity Wireframes

Usability Tests

Goals, Scenarios & Tasks:

GOAL: Search customized items.

Buyer Scenario: Your best friend’s 30th birthday is around the corner and
you have decided to get her something special.

Task: Buy a customized bracelet that will arrive in time for the big celebration.


GOAL: For the user to navigate to the listings page in order to use the quick list function.

Seller Scenario:
It’s the final day at the pop-up shop you’ve been working at to sell your vintage wares. While packing up, you notice an amazing denim jacket that you didn’t realize you had. You need to capture this and put it on your online store, but don’t have much time.

Task: Use the Etsy seller app to list one of your items speedily.

Simplifying Etsy

Prototype Site

Next Steps


  • Make more mobile friendly by simplifying overall home screens on both buyer and seller, removing extraneous text associated with icons.
  • Further facilitate the listing and buying of customized products, by enabling a less chronological process on screens.


  • Enable Etsy to move back to its origins, as place to discover unique items and shops that meet specific desires.
  • Encourage easy collaboration between the buyer and seller.


Etsy is a fast growing market place where creators can reach their audience through their designs and products. Because Etsy exists online, all sites and app content associated to the brand needs to cater to the needs of its Users in the best way possible. Through this project, I reflect on the depth and intricacies that goes into designing an app. It’s important to understand every step of the way, so that one day, I may also be a part of designing a awesome app like Etsy, but better!

In collaboration with Evelyn Donnelly & Allie Toussaint

Katy Wyman

Written by

Hi, I’m a New York based Communications x User Experience Designer. Passionate about all things creative.

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