The complement the bohemian clothing, bedding and housewares, Anthropologie sells a well curated collection of books for the aspirational lifestyle of a young professional woman who likes to entertain and travel.

Living the curated life

In the good old days before the iPod, Kindle and iPad, you could discern a lot about someone based purely by perusing their bookshelves. Hours were spent in Borders and indy bookstores and record stores crafting the persona you would project to the world. Now you can download entire discographies and libraries within minutes. So, what is the purpose of selling books in a store who’s focus couldn’t be further from that goal?

When you walk into Anthropologie, you immediately get a sense of who their target market is. It’s bohemian, worldly vibe lives up to the aspirational goals of a certain type of woman. The typical Anthropologie woman is a high-earning professional, 30–45 years old. She’s curious about the world and appreciates the eclectic, one-of-a-kind collection of items that make a visit to any one Anthropologie store a unique experience. For Project 2, there were a lot of verticals I could have chosen, including quite a few books that I was surprised to find.

Learning to take the time to do the research has been one of the most valuable things I’ve learned over the last few weeks in UXDI 4. In putting together the card sort for the books, I had obvious ideas of how to organize the books since mankind has had a couple of millenia to figure it out.

A card sort by my 6-year-old daughter, Olamina, produced insight into how to arrange books based on color.

A few tests teased out the usual sorting by alphabet or subject matter, but a sort by my 6-year-old who’s was more interested in how pretty some of the books were revealed a current design trend shown in shelter magazines to organize them by color. These sorts informed the type of filter options I would add to the website and underlined the need to perform tests and interviews outside of the target market to come up with a different paradigm.

The home page of the Anthropologie Book Club microsite

As we moved into learning software to create wireframes, I found Axure to be a challenge but easier once I found some templates to make the process go as fast as I was thinking. As I’m prone to doing, I fell into the trap of constantly refining the design and adding features, which then took even more time to document and annotate. I think the more refined wireframes helped communicate the aesthetic, but once again, I fell into a trap of running out of time and didn’t leave myself enough time to prepare for the presentation.

The Pecha Kucha format was a blessing and a curse for a control freak like myself. The 20 slides and tight time constraints kept me from rambling but not having control over when the slides advanced was maddening. I don’t know how apparent it was, but my presentation was totally unrehearsed and a bit uncomfortable for me. I got great feedback from other classmates, but Pusheenicorn could have come home with me with a better presentation.

Time Log

Card sorting: 3 hours
Comparative analysis: 2 hours
Initial design/wireframes: 4 hours
Design reiteration: 5 hours
Creation of usability interview: 1 hour
Usability testing (videos): 3 hours
Wireframe refinement: 6 hours
Annotations: 2 hours
Pecha Kucha prep: 3 hours