The design process

It’s been a tough and gratifying week — feeling proud of myself. I forgot how intense and tumultuous your feelings get when learning a new skill.

My brain has been looking like the left part of the diagram all week. For Project 2, we’ve been tasked with creating an e-commerce website. The focus of this week has been on information architecture, which makes my brain feel like scrambled eggs.

In a way, the uncertainty feels good, like squeezing a muscle to maximum capacity when attempting a new workout. The drench of sweat that follows feels like the middle part of the diagram, where the knots start to unspool and make sense.

For my ecommerce site, I’m slanging the good stuff: wine.

The target audience? Millennials who know little to nothing about wine. They’ll buy my hypothetical wine because they’re sourced from unique vineyards with cool backstories that will set my customers apart from their friends.

Building this wine box has shown me the following:

  1. Focus on core competency.

While agonizing over the many pathways my site could possibly take, I decided to focus on the main opportunity my wine is capitalizing on: the fact that millennials, who drink over half of all U.S. wine every year, care little about tasting notes or the point system. They crave authenticity, cool labeling, and unique backstories that create a personal connection with their wine. Only a few wine clubs in the industry offer this.

I started with the simplest possible way of offering the wine box: one curated box, one shipping option, and one sign up option (email).

After nailing this flow down, I branched out one item at a time. I asked questions such as: 
- How would people want to share their preferences for wine? A bit of competitive research showed other services gather this information through a quiz or a tasting kit.
- How valuable would it be for people to choose their wines? 
- How would the service adapt to changing tastes in wine?
- How often and at what time do people want their wines?
- How would people prefer to sign up for this service?

2. Design is not linear.

To answer the above questions, I drew on my research and target user. My target market was happy with a unique story, decent taste and cool label to their wine, so I decided against having people choose their wines.

Other questions were not so easily answered, such as allowing people to tailor boxes. I had to go back and ask users follow-up questions to do this.

Going back and forth between research and conceptualization means I’ve recreated my personas and user flows multiple times. I’m learning this is something I need to get comfortable with.

4. Connecting with others helps you design better.

To do research, I interviewed five wine drinkers in class, one of which was my instructor (she loves wine). Taking the time to conduct these interviews helped me get to know my classmates and instructor as well as gather valuable insights on user behavior around wine.

Making these connections also helped me get a wider range of feedback on designs and opened the channel for follow up questions. Connecting with my class has also given me more energy to design.

5. Take risks.

This week, I wandered out into the hallway to map out a user flow. The perfectionist in me balked at the possibility of looking stupid while trying to figure out something I had just learned.

The reward was infinitely more worth it. I figured out my user flow and finally grasped a useful tool.

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