Thank Heaven Children's Boutique:
UX Researcher and Designer
4 Weeks, December 2017
Bringing top-quality experiences and brands from brick & mortar to the digital space.
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 desires 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. Throughout the process we had to keep our client in mind, as she did not have much technology experience and worked alone, so the design needed to be something that she could easily update herself.
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?
We sought out people to interview so that we could get an in-depth understanding of their desires, needs, and habits with shopping for children’s items. Since Thank Heaven is a boutique that attracts customers looking for high-quality and unique items, we wanted people who ranked quality as equal or more important than price when deciding on gifts. Based on interviews and surveys, our main takeaways were:
These interviews told us that stores like Thank Heaven are certainly desired and that people want local stops like these to thrive in their neighborhoods. Many people also wanted to know about the brands behind the products – making sure they're buying quality and ethically-made gifts.
Site Visit and Contextual Inquiry
We made a visit to Thank Heaven to observe and ask questions of Ariena in the store.
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.
Key takeaways about the consumer:
Key takeaways about the owner, Ariena:
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.
After viewing her inspirations, visually we wanted to focus on a few things:
Persona of customer
Persona of our client
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, both 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:
Find the store's hours.
[Hours were very simple to locate]
Find how long it will take to get there on the train.
[Simple to find directions to the store. Some people wanted to click on the address at the bottom on each page.]
Find out if the store carries a particular brand
[Many users were confused about the home page being the brands page.]
Find information on other stores in the neighborhood
[Community page was popular. However, client decided to hold off for now on it.]
Overall comment from users: navigation is very clean and easy to use.
With the initial design we assumed that people would want to visit the brands right away, so we made them more prominent. When we tested, we learned that they wanted other options instead of jumping right into the brands, so the new home page had an overview of basic information instead.
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.
Home Page (desktop & responsive):
• About section moved here
• Features Products and Brands are found here
• Image carousal added for different items to be featured
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