Project 2: Art Institute Redesign

For our second project, we were tasked with redesigning the Art Insititute of Chicago’s website. In doing so, I conducted interviews, made observations, developed a prototype, tested that prototype and revised my final design based on feedback received.

In conducting my research, I began by going to the store itself to interview shoppers as well as store employees to get some insight as to what was working, what wasn’t working, why people were shopping, feelings of users, store goals, as well as simple observations I was able to make by simply watching their shopping habits.

I spoke to seven customers in store, four were from out of town and three were from Chicago. I then spoke with three employees, one from the book section and two on the main floor. Last, I spoke with four other users outside of the store who were familiar with the website. From this research, I was able to gather key information which lead to determining the main problems of the user’s experiences with the website.

Customer Interviews

  • “I like to buy something to remember my experience by”
  • “I’m getting something for my mom! She’s never been here and I want to get her something unique from Chicago!”
  • “Every time you look at or interact with something, a feeling arises.”
  • “I love being able to shop by my favorite exhibit, I don’t ever really know exactly what I’m looking for in terms of product so it’s nice to just see all of the items related to my favorite exhibits grouped together.”
  • “I like being able to interact with the items, flipping through book pages, seeing the size of the jewelry and clothing in person”
  • “If I leave the store and still have something in mind, that’s when I’ll go to the site”

Store Interviews

  • “We don’t get many users through the site, it’s more so in-store purchases”
  • “People generally shop at the store after they visit the museum but don’t think to go on the site after leaving”
  • “We try to motivate users to shop online by giving in-store purchasers 15% off coupons for the online store attached to all receipts”
  • “We have a section in-store where items are organized according to exhibit however it is not like this on the website”
  • “Customer service is an important part of in-store experience”

Online Interviews

  • “It’s super time consuming shopping on the site, there’s way too many options so it gets really overwhelming and I never know what I want so it takes way longer to shop on the online store.”
  • “I wish I could just shop by exhibit instead of item and then narrowing it down by artist…it’s annoying because I don’t know what item category I want, I just know what exhibit I want an item related to.”
  • “It’s annoying, information overload to the max”
  • “The gift generator is pretty inefficient…the categories are confusing. It just feels kind of redundant too.”

Affinity Mapping


  • Users love shopping for items related to their favorite exhibits to take home a memory or piece of the museum
  • Users purchase gifts for friends and family from the shop to share their experiences and unique findings
  • Users enjoy being able to try on/interact with products
  • Users feel overwhelmed by the site because it displays too many filtering options


  • Users enjoy buying things related to their favorite exhibits to take home a memory of the museum but are not remembering to shop outside of their visits
  • Users like interacting with and seeing different angles of products but are unable to do so on the site
  • Users want an easy way to find gifts for family and friends but find the site generator to be inefficient

Design Strategies

  • Spark user memory of the museum after their visit to motivate them to purchase even after their in person experience is over
  • Create a way for users to see and interact with products online similarly to how they are able to in person
  • Create an easy way for users to shop for gifts for friends and family
  • Create a smooth and easy shopping experience

Design Solutions

  • Email sent to the user with 15% off coupon to spark the memory of their recent visit which displays best selling products related to the exhibits they saw during their recent visit.
  • Motivate users to become members or join a loyalty program — for non locals or people who aren’t as interested in a membership at checkout to create a continuous relationship and keep users coming back to the site
  • Make the shopping experience as simple as the in store experience — different product image views, quick view options, grouping exhibit items together

User Flows

When sketching my user flows I focused on three different users: members, local non-members and tourist non-members. In making these paths, I made the realization that it wasn’t very realistic to have a tourist take the route of becoming a member because most of the member benefits only applied to in-person events. This is where I was able to come up with the idea of implementing a loyalty program to benefit those who would still like to get discounts but wouldn’t make sense to buy an entire membership when they are not local to the museum.

User Testing & Feedback

After testing my prototype with various users, I found that there were a few things that I had slightly overlooked in my first design. Users explained that the homepage needed to be simplified. They felt that some of the categories were slightly confusing and could have been grouped together. Similar to the homepage, users felt that the filters in each category contained too many options. They didn’t want to have to think when selecting a gift and filtering out a bunch of different options made proved to be the opposite of simple. Users also felt that it took one too many clicks to get to the products — they felt it should be easier and more immediate to shop. The last things that users felt strongly about was the membership implementation. They felt that they shouldn’t have to click on the info button to learn about membership deals — instead, they wanted the membership deals to come to them.


In revising my prototype, I made sure to tailor my designs based on the feedback received from testing users.

The final website included:

  • A simplified homepage
  • Less clicks to get to products
  • Less filters
  • Products listed and there is a quick view option which the user can take advantage of in the event that they want to continue shopping
  • The user is no longer immediately redirected to her tote as she once was with the previous website design
  • Reviews
  • Save for later
  • Membership & loyalty offering at checkout


In researching the museum, I found that the main problems were that users enjoyed buying things related to their favorite exhibits to take home a memory of the museum but are not remembering to shop outside of their visits. Users also like interacting with and seeing different angles of products but are unable to do so on the site. Lastly, users want an easy way to find gifts for family and friends but find the site generator to be inefficient. After testing users, I found that a main point of my redesign had to be focused on creating less steps for the users.


In the future I would like to expand on different avenues of extending users memory of the museum. One idea would be to create an experience where users are able to take pictures with filters related to their favorite exhibit. These photos would be included in the email sent after their visits.

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