Retrospective 2 — Case Study

It is the end of my 3rd week at General Assembly and the end of project 2. Here I will walk through my design and thought process of my redesign of a museum Ecommerce site.


Our task for week 2 and 3 of the course was to redesign an ecommerce website of a museum or “gift shop” in Chicago. I chose to do the Chicago Architecture foundation- which is a very design based non-profit organization that inspires everyone to experience Chicago the way a designer does.

Week 2 kicked off with us learning about the “Double Diamond Approach” and the “5 why’s” all of which were key components into our whole design and build process of this project.


We had began with doing ethnographic research- one of my favorite things because I have such a deep background in social research. After research, we were to create insights, ideate, and then create our prototypes.

The research part was a little bit of a stretch for others in the class but it was very clear to me as it was something I did a lot during my undergraduate career. We were to go to our designated museum and conduct semi-structured open ended interviews to get a feel of the user’s experience in the physical brick and mortar store and see how that could be reflected or compared to the online commerce site. I checked out the Chicago Architecture Foundation shop for myself and found it quite interesting. Not only can you purchase tangible items from the shop, but you could also purchase experiences-such as many of the tours offered at the foundation. The foundation is not for profit and relies on tours, donations, memberships, and also retail. The foundation publishes an annual report yearly and from that we could see the breakdown of the foundation’s revenue.


The thing I found most interesting is that tours make up a majority of the Foundation’s revenue as the docents are all volunteers. Retail only makes up around 10% o the revenue while donation makes around 15% and membership 4%. I sought to tackle this project through a business standpoint and really balance it with the user’s experience.

I asked a bunch of questions in order to get a real feel of why customers shop at brick and mortar stores like this, really delving into the 5 w’s(who, what, where, when, how, and most importantly why). I asked questions like:

Who are you… as in what kind of background do you have?

What do you usually shop for when you are here?

Where do you usually go when you come here(as it is a foundation there are options to go to events, tours, and symposiums)?/ Where do you usually shop online?

When do you usually come here?

How often do you come here and shop?

and most importantly I followed up with the big WHY?

Insights and discoveries:

After all of the interviews and taking a look at the brick and mortar shop for myself I realized some interesting things, I saw that there was this thematic issue that stems from social interaction. There’s a lack of interaction with the user and the foundation- meaning an individual within the insitution. There’s this disconnect that I sought to solve the problem to. When interviewed I found out that a lot of people would rather shop for items off bigger retailer shops, did not know that the online store even existed, would go on tours and skip the retail shop itself, avoid the shop site and rather donate, and finally, avoid becoming a member.

I had also gone through asking individuals to navigate the actual site and tell me what they did and didn’t like. A few discoveries I found were that it was hard to even navigate to the online store, it was weird that memberships, tours, and donations would take you to the same cart check out as the shop but weren’t accesible from the online store. Finally, there was no reason for them to want to shop at the store, although there is a membership benefit of at least a 15% discount the benefits aren’t laid out and users have a hard time wanting to commit while there are other sites like amazon and etsy where they can find similar or even the same products.

All in all there is this experience that gets lost for the user, there’s this interactional disconnect between the individual and the institution and there are necessary affordances that need to be reconfigured to accomodate both the user and institution.

One interviewee’s statement that stuck out with me was: “I like supporting local artists and the foundation, I think it’s a valuable asset to the Chicago Arts”

The navigation screen of the website was a little bit too much and overwhelming, it was too hard to locate the store- becuase it seemed like it was gonna be more of an information page on the B&M store rather than an online shop itself

There was something so unappealing about this page when I made users scroll through and try to find a membership they would actually buy, it was really hard to keep scrolling and understand which membership belonged to which perk.


After creating an affinity map and looking back at the interviews I had conducted I realized a few things, it wasn’t necessarily only an issue for the users, but it was also a marketing issue that needed to be fixed.

I found that Customers are more likely to overlook the CAF shop because they do not know the significance of their contribution to the foundation itself.

Customers will purchase items as gifts from the shop because of the gratification that comes with it.

Customers are willing to become members and loyal to the foundation as long as they are aware of the incentives.

Design Principle

There needs to be emphasis on certain facets(shop local artist, tours and tour merchandise, architects) of the foundation in order to continue it’s growth, items sold at the shop all elicit design elements but customers often overlook that.

We believe that increasing visibility of the proceed information will increase user loyalty and traffic online, it will generate more revenue and support for the foundation and local Chicago arts.

The Chicago Architectural Foundation needs to create a better relationship with its customers because it will help the Foundation grow.


A Design Solution would be to create an interactive relationship with the users and the foundation so the users know that they are an integral part to the foundation itself.


Here is my site map where I wanted to create a more cohesive store experience for not only the foundation but the users themselves. I sought out to place emphasis on shopping local, purchasing memberships, going on tours, and donations- all of which are important facets of the Chicago Architecture foundation’s revenue.

There are the beginning sketches of my thought process of my prototype. I wanted to reitterate the importance of the user to the foundation so we would keep that interaction and maintain the expereince. I wanted to focus on main components of revenue such as tours, memberships, and shopping local as all areas make up a majority of the revenue and are essential to the foundation’s mission. By shopping local, local designers get discovered, and empowered.By emphasizing membership and it’s benefits there will be a better relationship with the user and the foundation thus mending the interactional relationship. Tours are the leading factor of the foundation and by bringing it also to the shop page, users are more likely to buy tour items related to their experience as well as tours themselves- thus bringing more foot traffic online. The foundation’s revenue helps out the arts education in Chicago, and helps the arts a whole in the city.


I wanted my prototype to reflect my sketches in order to tell the story and maintain a hierarchy. I focussed on a membership directive in order to create something new for the ecommerce site, as the current is a little outdated and out of order.

Through user testing I was able to create an easier navigable site that made the user more comfortable and understand their importance to the foundation.

This is my home page, I wanted to maintain a focus on key components of the foundation, I thought it was valuable to keep that mission statement front and center in order for users to know what they are getting into, as well as calling attention to proceed information. I wanted to keep the focus on Shopping Local, Membership Loyalty, and Experiencing a tour.

Final Thoughts:

I really think I am making progress in my design thought process and this program itself. I have a hard time iterating my thoughts into words when it comes to presenting so that is something I definitely need to polish up. If I had more than 2 weeks I think I could have come up with a lot more improvements. Due to technical difficulties on Sketch, my prototype came together a lot slower than I would have hoped, but at least it actually works.

I’d like to improve by:

Interviewing more individuals who were in the store and actually use the online store

Have more user tests(swith up demographics) to see what else I could improve on

Create personas to see what sort of user I would have to design and redesign for.

In the end, the project went smoother than I thought, I came into week 2 really intimidated by how much work had to be done within these 2 weeks. Thanks to the support system of my peers and instructors things went as well as it could have.