UX Project 2 — Fishs Eddy

Creating an e-commerce site for Fishs Eddy, a New York City staple for home goods.

Initial Thoughts

I was assigned to create a site for Fishs Eddy — a New York staple I’m recently familiar with. A friend of mine mentioned the store when I was searching for new mugs. Taking her recommendation, I wandered the store as a shopper (prior to this assignment), and I remember the atmosphere immediately reminded me of Anthropologie. They had quirky products — sometimes very funny — and definitely unique. I left wishing I could justify spending $30 on two mugs with dog illustrations, but a huge fan of the store. Getting this assignment was extremely exciting, as I knew I would get to learn about this amazing brand inside out.

Process Overview

14 days

  1. Brand Research: Learning about Fishs Eddy through online research, user flows, competitive analysis and contextual inquiry.
  2. User Personas: Introducing the personas that will guide our design.
  3. Card Sorting & Navigation Schema: Explaining the methods leading to creating a new information architecture.
  4. 10 New Products: Introducing 10 new inventory products and why.
  5. Wireframes: Annotated medium-fidelity wireframes and iterations.
  6. Conclusions

Brand Research

Online Resources

To start learning more about Fishs Eddy, I began with online research. I read through an interview with the founders and an article from Entrepeneur, and took some notes:

  1. Consider themselves a small business
  2. Not meant to be “delicate” products — “Our stuff is meant to be used and abused, it’s commercial quality china — it’s not precious at all.” [Racked]
  3. Wide demographic [customers are nannies, parents, tourists, NYC locals, savvy, liberal; prices for all socioeconomic statuses]
  4. Playful, sassy products
  5. One NYC Storefront — Flatiron location, 25 years
  6. Like to partner with larger companies, designers, etc.
  7. Founders admire the Anthropologie store

Additionally, I spent a lot of time on the Fishs Eddy website and familiarized myself with their products, logo, style, navigation, and categorization of their products. Through analyzing their homepage, I was also able to get an idea of what “vibe” the brand wants to represent — what products are they featuring? whats the look and feel? what do they care about showing the customer?

Contextual Inquiry

Next, I visited the store again with the mindset of a researcher. Just by observing the shoppers, I was able to understand their favorite products, what they found funny, if they were just browsing, or they came to buy a practical addition to their home. As described by the founders, the range of people in the store was quite diverse — and contextual inquiry confirmed that. I was able to conduct 4 interviews at the store, with (1) a couple visiting for the weekend (2) a pair of friends on their lunch break (3) a woman on a school trip (4) and a preschool teacher. I asked them questions regarding their shopping habits at Fishs Eddy — “Why did you come in today?” “Are you looking for anything in particular?” “Have you been here before?” “How did you hear about the store?” “What do you think of the store?”. I took notes during the interviews and extracted these main quotes:

“I would buy more gifts here than items for myself”

“I could spend 8 hours in here”

“It’s just fun to look around”

“I just like browsing around all the fun stuff”

From these interviews, I knew I needed to emphasize gifts in my primary navigation, and to have a really interactive way to look at the products online. Additionally, I took photos of the way items were grouped physically in the store, as well as the general layout. How do people move through the store? What items go together? Most products were grouped together by “pattern” or “collection,” other areas were generally for storage-ware, silverware, and even an entire bar section. My goal was to take these findings and translate the experience people know and love in the physical store to their online experience.

Competitive Analysis

Identify Competitors

I needed to identify where Fishs Eddy falls in the range of the “home goods market,” as well as learn what people expect from the existing market. I began to research stores with home goods products that offer similar “fun, quirky” vibes, as well others that have less of a “voice” but are still major national/international brands:

  1. Anthropologie
  2. Urban Outfitters
  3. West Elm
  4. Bed Bath & Beyond
  5. Williams & Sonoma
  6. Crate & Barrel
  7. Ikea
  8. & even Thrift stores [for unique/fun products you can’t find anywhere else]

While I dove in to all of these websites deeply (especially while researching the navigation sitemap), the sites in bold are the three I focused my feature analysis on. Anthropologie because, well, the founders mentioned admiring the store, and it was my first thought when I entered the store with the fresh eyes of a shopper. Urban Outfitters is another brand highly associated with youthful, funny, quirky products, and a common place for gifts. Finally, West Elm because they recently collaborated with Fishs Eddy, and the stores generally have overlapping products and styles.

Competitor User Flows & Heuristic Evaluations

I completed three separate user flows on the sites in bold above, meaning I wrote out each step of “buying a mug as a new user to the site”. I started by searching for a mug using only the navigation options, noting the way they name their categories, findability or clarity issues, error messages and how they were communicated, and clicks from product discovery to checkout.

User Flow for Urban Outfitters

Below, you can see my evaluation of each site experience:

Product Pages & Features

Part of my analysis included sketching out product page wireframes to compare and determine which features each competitor deemed important to include. This was extremely helpful in evaluating which layouts and features were working or useful for me as a user, and what was confusing or superfluous.

User Personas

We were given three user personas to design the site for: Dexter, John and Edda. I decided my primary persona would be Dexter, because he fit the Fishs Eddy brand perfectly. His love for retro-chic products aligns with the vintage feel of Fishs Eddy, he loves showing off products [and it was clear the products were worth showing off based on my contextual inquiry observations — friends and family bonding over fun products, calling each other over to see something amazing they just found], and he loves NYC culture [Fishs Eddy is an NYC staple and features a prominent NYC pattern collection]. I’ve attached his full persona below for additional context.

Dexter’s Persona

What features do my users care about?

To organize and prioritize which features the three user personas care about most, I created a table (below) to highlight any overlaps between pain points & needs, and figure out what to emphasize on the new site:

Red: Dexter’s feature requests [most important]; Purple: More than 1 Persona cares about [secondary features]; Black: Additional feature requests [lowest priority]

Even though I was designing for one main persona, I made sure to keep all the personas in mind. Dexter’s features would be the most prominent, and John and Edda’s needs would surely be reflected as well, but less in the forefront.

Card Sorting & Navigation Schema

Open Card Sort

To begin categorizing my inventory of 90 products, I decided to perform an open card sort to classify taxonomies and group together similar/related products. I found that the process, while tedious, was extremely illuminating to the way I like to shop and how I identify products. I also realized many products would fit into more than one category, depending on how people were searching for it [the vintage bowl set falls into “vintage”, “bowls”, “gifts”, and “collections”].

To see how others would sort my inventory, I asked two users to open sort the cards. Watching them work with the inventory was really interesting, especially in the discrepancies between my taxonomies and theirs, paying attention to the naming and categories they chose. User 1 sorted the cards by grouping them together, and then creating a rough sitemap:

User 2 sorted the cards by grouping, and then writing the overarching categories on post it notes:

Photo by Anna

After analyzing their open card sorts, I refined and narrowed down my categories. Both of them sorted the cups by the title “Cups”, which encompass the liquor glasses, glass cups, and mugs. User 2 added a category called “More than One” or, “Entertainment” for some of the sets, which was also surprising to note since neither User 1 nor I thought of that category. Between the three of us, we all titled forks, spoons, knives differently, “Flatware” “Cutlery” “Utensils”. I ended up choosing “Flatware,” because both had mentioned “Kitchenware” and “Dinnerware,” to keep the wording consistent.

I created a spreadsheet of my inventory, and divided each item into the refined categories. I chose this format so I could easily categorize one item into more than one category, as well as to have an official sheet to share with others.

Closed Card Sort & Sitemap

I performed a closed cart sort with another user, User 3, to ensure the categories I had finalized were as clear as possible. A few notes on my findings:

  1. Drinkware: User 3 sorted all the correct items into this category
  2. Flatware: Makes sense if you understand what flatware means
  3. Dinnerware: User 3 sorted all the correct items into this category
  4. Bar & Entertainment: The most unclear. “Bar” was obvious, but I had “Home Accessories” filed under “Entertainment”, which wasn’t clear to User 3 at all.

I decided to remove the Entertainment section and simply create a separate place for Home Accessories. I didn’t want any future users to dig through/hover over all my categories to figure out where their desired product lives. My sitemap can be found below, showing the final categories that I concluded were the most clear.

10 New Products

I was asked to add 10 additional products to the Fishs Eddy inventory. I selected the 10 below based on several criteria (1) Contextual inquiry — What does Fishs Eddy feature in the store that isn’t reflected in the original 90 product inventory? What did people enjoy the most while browsing the store? (2) What does my primary persona love?

And finally: Where do these two criteria overlap?

Based on these ideas, I added:

  1. More products from the NYC Collection — Dexter is a fan of NYC and wants to show off his city. Fishs Eddy is an NYC staple and these products are heavily featured in the store. This represents both the brand’s personality and history, as well providing Dexter products he can be proud of.
  2. Books — After visiting the store, I noticed books were everywhere, and they were not reflected at all in the original inventory. I decided to add books due to my observations in the store, people absolutely loved and connected with them.
  3. 2016 Election Collection — Again, through my store observations, this section was the ultimate favorite. I saw the most people laughing and interacting with this section. It’s unique to Fishs Eddy and it felt necessary to feature in the online inventory.

Wireframes

For my site’s wireframes, I started by sketching out each page with pen and paper, and then used the Sketch application to make them come to life. I created medium fidelity wireframes to map out of the basic features and test the functionality of the site in the most basic way possible. Next, I added them to the Invision application to user test the prototypes as if it were a working site.

User Testing & Iterations

I performed 6 user tests of my prototype. I gave each user the scenario that they are new users to the Fishs Eddy site, and they need to buy new mugs for an upcoming brunch they are throwing. I asked them to find the mugs, and checkout/sign up as new users.

The main points of feedback were:

  1. “There are too many checkout steps”
  2. “I like to compare ratings side by side on the general product page so I can quickly see which one is better”
  3. “How do I see just the bad reviews? I always look at the bad reviews first.”
  4. “It felt very familiar, I’ve been through many experiences that work the same way”

I went through three iterations of my prototype, adding features based on any confusion or feedback I received from my users. I shortened the checkout process to three steps, added ratings to the product list pages, as well as an option to filter reviews based on rating.

Each feature on the page is based on a pain point or request of one of the three user persona’s. Below are the (final) wireframes of three pages, annotated to explain my thought process behind each feature.

Homepage
Product List page
Product Page

Conclusions

The Fishs Eddy assignment was both extremely illuminating and intensive. It required a heavy analysis and familiarity with the brand, its competitors, contextual inquiry, and the three personas. Creating navigation taxonomies required a high level of thoughtfulness and care. That same thinking was applied to the wireframes and user testing. My job is not successful if the user is confused by my final product.

For my next steps, I would love to test out the prototype with more users, and especially with the Fishs Eddy team. From there, I can continue to make iterations based on that feedback. I would also like to confirm that the 10 new products I’ve added to the inventory work for the client. Other next steps would include testing out different user flows and work with developers to make the site come to life!

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