My Role: UX Researcher and Designer | Duration: 4 Weeks | Project Status: Ongoing
Thank Heaven is a children’s boutique in Forest Hills, Queens, started by Ariena Thomsen in 2004. She is very passionate about selling top-quality children’s clothes, books, and toys from outstanding brands. Her customers adore her, but foot traffic has slowed down over the years. Her only online presence has been Yelp reviews, a Facebook business page, and Instagram account, and she would really like to have a website that she can control.
Scope of Work
My team of three was brought on to develop a website for Thank Heaven from the ground up. We conducted research on the buying patterns of current and potential customers, analyzed the competitive market, created mid- and high-fidelity wireframes for a responsive website design, created a prototype for the desktop and mobile website versions, and worked with the development team for collaboration and handoff.
Our goal was to find people to interview so that we could get an in-depth understanding of their desires, needs, and habits with shopping for children’s items. To find qualified people, we reached out through social media with a simple and short survey.
Who are the children that you’re buying for?
What ages of children do you buy for?
When shopping for items for children, what is most important, price or quality? (on a 1–5 scale)
88% shop for their own children
77% shop for other children
96% shop for children under the age of 7
Thank Heaven is a boutique that attracts customers looking for high-quality and unique items. Knowing this, we only interviewed people who rated price vs. quality as “quality and price are equal,” “quality is more important,” and “quality is most important.”
Interviewees: 12 people
While the interviews gave us great insight into the habits and desires of a few shoppers, we wanted information from a wider range of people. An in-depth survey was created and shared through social media, both through personal accounts and Thank Heaven’s business account.
Responses: 70 people
Interview + Survey Results
Responses from the interviews and in-depth surveys were synthesized to get an overall sense for how potential customers shopped and what their needs and desires are.
What are the ages of children you shop for?
90% shop for children under the age of 7
Over the past year, how many times have you shopped for children’s items?
What were the occasions?
Almost everyone: birthdays and holidays
Other occasions: baby showers, when traveling, necessities for their own children
How important is quality vs. price? (Scale of 1–5)
Do you shop in locally-owned shops for children’s items?
If yes, why?
Most common: wanting to support local businesses
It’s nice to get things right away instead of waiting for shipments
If no, why not?
Stores are difficult to get to
Prices are too high
What online stores do you purchase children’s items from?
Popular stores: Amazon, Target, Old Navy, Gap, Toys R Us, Walmart
What in-person stores do you purchase children’s items from?
Independently-owned shops, Target, Walmart, Children’s Place, Toys R Us, Kohl’s
What would compel you to travel out of your way to purchase a specific item?
Searching for a specific, unique item
If a better price was only available in person
How do you find out about the children’s stores you currently shop at?
Word of mouth
Passing by them while out walking
Describe an ideal shopping experience when going to a brick & mortar children’s store.
Clearly-labeled items, organized store, and knowledgeable & friendly staff
How much do you engage with store workers when shopping for children’s items?
Generally, people will interact when they have questions, but otherwise like to be left alone
Describe an ideal shopping experience when shopping at an online children’s store.
Easy to search, easy navigation, free shipping, reviews, and good photos
What goes into the decision of shopping online or in-person?
Convenience of online and price of online items
Are you shipping these items to the recipients or delivering them in person?
A mix, but more people will deliver the gifts in person
In general, do you first decide on an item to purchase and then search for it, or first decide on the store and look for ideas?
How do you decide what to buy for children?
Mostly ask for suggestions from parents and/or the children directly
Do you enjoy browsing children’s items when you’re not shopping for something in particular?
If yes, why?
Children’s items are cute and fun to look at
If no, why not?
Lack of time
It’s not fun or easy to browse with kids in tow
How important is buying from an ethical brand or a brand that sells organic items?
Do you enjoy knowing about the brands of products?
Do you see lots of children’s media (advertising and personal feeds)?
What is your reaction when you come across children-related online media/content?
Site Visit and Contextual Inquiry
We made a visit to Thank Heaven to observe and ask questions of Ariena in the store.
Visit: Wednesday, December 13th, 2017, 2pm
Duration: 45 minutes
Number of customers in store: 3
Number of phone calls received: 2
Ariena is very passionate about people, and it shows clearly through her interactions with customers and the items she chooses to sell at the store.
With each customer she takes the time to understand what they’re looking for, and helps them find the perfect gift. She’s also very respective of people who want to shop without talking to anyone — she’s very happy to sit behind the counter and wait for them to come to her with questions.
Ariena chooses ethical brands that do good in the world to sell in her store. Organic material, fair wages, and giving back to the community are all important factors to her. When visiting wholesale expos to choose products, she finds out as much as possible about the brands. Her customers love to hear about the great things that these companies are doing, and she loves to give a quick background on the brands as she’s helping customers.
We compared user interface elements of sample competitors’ websites.
Competitive and Comparative Feature Analysis
We looked at features of websites for competitive and comparative companies to see where Thank Heaven might position itself.
Competitive Feature Analysis:
Comparative Feature Analysis:
Ariena gave us websites that she was drawn to because of their layouts and colors, which was used as inspiration to create her website design.
Tiny Hanger: www.tinyhanger.com:
Torly Kid: www.torlykid.com:
Pink Chicken: www.pinkchicken.com:
Spearmint Love: www.spearmintlove.com:
Tiny You: www.shoptiny.nyc:
Consumer: through interviewing 12 people and surveying 70, we discovered a few key takeaways:
•They love to support local businesses, as it’s good for the community
•They enjoy learning the stories behind top-quality brands, yet don’t think to seek out these stories
•High-quality and unique gifts for children are important
The convenience of online shopping will often win out over shopping locally
Thank Heaven and Ariena Thomsen: through multiple interviews with Ariena and a site visit, we learned:
•Ariena is very involved in the local community
•The stories behind the brands of the items she sells is extremely important
•Her love of people is very evident, and she only wants the best for them
•She only sells top-quality and eye-catching items
•She does everything for the store with almost no help, and has limited technology resources
Persona of customer
Persona of our client
People love purchasing high-quality items from great brands and that support their local community, but they often don’t have the time to make it out to these stores.
How might we make it convenient for customers to shop locally for top-quality children’s products?
Research Leads to Design
Through our research into what consumers want and the store’s purpose, we created a list of features to implement on the site.
Design Studio: Sketching + Concepts
The four main sections we wanted to have on the site:
• Featured brands
• Community page (local events and other shops in the area)
• About the store and Ariena
• Contact and Hours
Simplicity on the back end was paramount with the limited technology currently available to Ariena, but in website knowledge and inventory. Although an e-commerce would be the best option for the long-term, this first website would be information only.
Desktop and responsive versions for each screen:
Usability Testing + Design Iterations
The first round of testing was with the mid-fidelity prototype.
• Simple to find store hours — either through Contact page or at the bottom of each page
• Simple to find directions to the store. Some people wanted to click on the address at the bottom on each page.
• Finding featured brands was not always easy — the home page was the Brands page, which confused people.
• Community page was popular. However, client decided to hold off for now on it.
• Navigation is very clean and easy to use.
The next design iteration was high-fidelity. The most significant structural change was changing the home page to be an overview of information instead of the featured brands.
New layout of the site: the Home Page now has much more general information for the users.
One of the main goals was to make the navigation very simple for all users, so we made sure that tasks could be completed with minimal clicks on the site.
Finding directions to the store:
Finding the store’s hours:
Finding if the store caries a particular brand:
Home Page (desktop & responsive):
• About section moved here
• Features Products and Brands are found here
• Image carousal added for different items to be featured
Brands (desktop & responsive):
Products (desktop & responsive):
Reviews (desktop & responsive)
• New page added
• Existing reviews taken from Facebook
Contact Us (desktop & responsive):
Usability Testing: Second Round
Round 2 of testing was with the high-fidelity prototype.
• Very easy to find store hours — either through “Contact” or at the bottom of each page
• Very easy to find directions to the store
• Featured brands was easy because the home page was now something different
• Navigation was very clean and easy to use.
• Site has a friendly and neighborhood-like vibe that looked like it matched what the store sells
Implementation + Next Steps
Thank Heaven is an amazing children’s boutique with high-quality products, and we would love for more consumers to know about it. Through research we identified key areas that would make the website informative and create a digital presence for the store. The feedback on the design is that it was very clean and user-friendly, and showed a friendly and community-oriented feeling. This will ensure its discoverability to be far reaching outside of the Forest Hills community.
This version of the website design is serving the purpose of letting more people know about the store. The client would love to have an e-commerce site, and knows that there is much planning and set-up to get to that point.
The upcoming steps for this project:
• Portrait session of client
• Gather full information of all brands and products: copy and images
• Work with development team to implement website design
• Client brings on additional help to manage the website
• Add search function
• Client sets up her inventory to be able to accommodate an e-commerce website
• E-commerce website is designed and built