Thank Heaven Children's Boutique:
New Website

My Role

UX Researcher and Designer

Duration

4 Weeks, December 2017

Project status

Complete

Project Overview

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. 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.

RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

User Interviews + Surveys

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. 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. Out of 26 responses to the survey, we spoke with 12 people who qualified.

 
"Better-made items tend to last longer with kids."
 
 
"In New York, there are so many cute boutiques and I would rather support locally made stuff vs fast fashion."
 
 
"I try to shop locally as much as possible. It makes good business sense. It helps support the local economy. If I were a shopkeeper, I would certainly appreciate it people shopped at my shop rather than on Amazon."
 

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.

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, and we received 70 responses.

Interview + Survey Results

Synthesizing the results from both the interviews and surveys, we came up with “I statements” that represented thoughts from everyone.

  • I shop for children at least every other month
  • I buy birthday and holiday gifts for children
  • I want high-quality gifts
  • I want to support the local businesses in my community
  • I want convenience when shopping
  • I will travel out of my way if searching for a specific item
  • I rely on friends, online research, and walking around to discover new stores
  • I want knowledgeable and friendly assistance when shopping, but not overbearing
  • I want to be able to find things easily when shopping
  • I want to see reviews online
  • I want to see clear photos of the items I'm seeing
  • I mostly ask for suggestions or recommendations for things to buy.
  • I'm okay browsing as long as it's easy and stress-free
  • It's important that it's an ethical brand but not necessary
  • I like to knowing about the companies that make the products

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.

Competitive Feature Analysis

We looked at features of websites for competitive and comparative companies to see where Thank Heaven might position itself. To keep the site simple and easy to use by the client, we chose to not make it an e-commerce site.

Inspirational Designs

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.

From her design choices, it was clear she enjoyed clean layouts, lots of white space, and prioritized the photographs.

Research Synthesis

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

Personas

Persona of customer

Persona Anne.png

Persona of our client

Persona Ariena.png

Problem Statement

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.

09 research leads to features.png

Feature Prioritization

 

Required features for the site to be used:

  • Store Hours
  • Email Address
  • Phone Number
  • Store Address

Next-level priority features for the site to be useful:

  • Return Policy
  • Shipping Policy
  • About Us
  • Social Media Links
  • Featured Brands
  • New Arrivals
  • Gift Certificates
  • Sales and Specials
  • Payments Accepted
  • Search Bar
  • Legal Notice

Low-priority Features, possibly for later iterations:

  • Wishlist
  • Account/Login
  • Newsletter
  • FAQs
  • My Account
  • Order History
  • Shopping Cart
  • Sizing Guide
  • In the Press
  • Community Page
 

DESIGN PHASE

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.

11 design-studio.jpg

Mid-Fidelity Wireframes

Desktop and responsive versions for each screen:

Usability Testing + Design Iterations

Task 1:
Find the store's hours.
[Hours were very simple to locate]

Task 2:
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.]

Task 3:
Find out if the store carries a particular brand
[Many users were confused about the home page being the brands page.]

Task 4:
Find information on other stores in the neighborhood
[Community page was popular. However, client decided to hold off for now on it.]

Usability Test 1 Copy.png

Overall comment from users: navigation is very clean and easy to use.

The next design iteration was high-fidelity. The most significant structural change was switching the home page to be an overview of information instead of the featured brands.

14 design iteration.png

Site Map

New layout of the site: the Home Page now has much more general information for the users.

15 site map.png

User Flows

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.

High-Fidelity Wireframes

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

Task 1:
Find the store's hours.
[Hours were very simple to locate]

Task 2:
Find how long it will take to get there on the train.
[Simple to find directions to the store.]

Task 3:
Find out if the store carries a particular brand
[Featured brands was easy because the home page was now more logical.]

Usability Test 2.png

Overall thoughts from users:
• 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

Prototypes

Desktop version
Responsive version

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