Toys Et Cetera

General Assembly Project #2

Designer: Shannon Sajkowski

Skills: Contextual Inquiry, Ethnographic Interviews, Card Sorting, Developing Insights and Design Principles, Sketching, Storyboarding, Wireframes, Sketch, InVision and Rapid Prototyping

Who are they?

Toys Et Cetera is a locally owned business that focuses on a niche market by selling developmentally focused toys. The follow is a quote from the store owner where she sums up the mission statement of her company:

“Toys Et Cetera was born in 1976 to satisfy my need for better toys for my own children — toys that were educational, developmentally sound, and culturally sensitive. My child are now grown but my search goes on…” — Nancy (Store Owner)

What is the opportunity?

Design a website that captures the experience of buying developmentally focused toys.

How did I research this problem?

I did contextual observations on Toys Et Cetera and their competitors. I also conducted 2 ethnographic interviews. Later in the project I would use open and closed card sorting activities to help sort toys into the correct categories.

Ethnographic Interviewees and In Store Contextual Inquiry

What were my key insights?

  1. Toys need to come from a trusted source (unarticulated need).
  2. The process of buying toys is overwhelming because of the variety of choices available (tension).
  3. Parents want what is best for their child, but reality constrains them. They instead seek out the best value (paradox). Value is negotiating between price and what the toy will do for their child.

Why does this matter?

Toys Et Cetera’s mission statement aligns with a parent’s mission statement.

Simon Sinek “The Golden Circle”

Who is our target user?

Toys Et Cetera’s target user is anyone who believes a child in their life should be given every opportunity to develop into a successful adult.

What is the user journey and how does this website fit in?

The following is a storyboard that shares the experience of a father buying his first toy for his child. It illuminates how a website could help improve this experience.

Joe buys his first toy

What are the design principles?

  1. Build trust by affirming a parent’s understanding of their children’s needs.
  2. Negotiate between many dimensions of value so parents can confidently buy.
  3. Model the loving experience between a parent and child.

What is the design strategy?

Build a website that parents can trust, find a toy’s value and feel a connection with their child.

Design principle #1: How to build trust

Here, I knew I had to design a website that behaved exactly the way a parent would expect it to. Every button had to lead to a page they were expecting, and all the toy categories had to list toys they believed belonged there. It was during this design step that I used open and closed card sorting. The result was predictable shop pages.

Toys Et Cetera’s Skill Shop Landing Page

I also created a “Contact us” button that you can see displayed in the photo above. This way, if a parent had any questions or concerns they could immediately talk to a live person in the store.

Contact Us Feature

Design principle #2: Negotiate between value

Here, I had to allow parents to browse through categories that were important to them. So I created two browse options on the home page, “skills” and “age”.

Toys Et Cetera Home Page

I also created filters on the shop landing pages. I limited the numbers of ways parents could filter based on what was most important. I determined these filters through user testing.

Filter Options

Design principle #3: Model Loving Experience

Here, I added little tweaks to the design to create experiences that parents have while raising a child. The first change was to change the shopping cart icon to a parent pushing a child in a shopping cart. The second was to add “a child’s experience” to the review section. This allows parents to see other children with the toy they are thinking of buying.

Modeling the parent and child relationship

What did I learn?

I learned that the design process does not follow a linear path. I was constantly jumping between stages of discovery, but this helped strengthen my design principles. I also found that when I am out of ideas, going back to redefining my design principles can be a source of inspiration. The process is not linear because inspiration can come at any point in the process.

I also learned the value of user testing. In particular, I learned the importance of information architecture and wording. User testing allowed me to learn how people interpret my words and designs so I can ensure I get my point across.

What are my next steps?

I would want to continue to user test to ensure I was creating a website that does what a parent is expecting. I would specifically want to revisit the homepage and ensure I am giving them enough options to browse by and explaining Toys Et Cetera’s mission statement.

I would also want to explore the aesthetic of the website. As I began to include color and fonts into my design, I got feedback during user testing that they would not trust putting their credit card information into a site that looked like it was designed by a child. I would want to understand how I can capture the relationship between a parent and a child without losing credibility.

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