Little Einstein (2017)
Little Einstein was an assignment for a graduate UX Design course at NYU Tandon School of Engineering. The goal was to design an e-commerce website for a fictional STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Mathematics) toy store. The fictional owner, Alberta, was in the process of permanently closing the physical store located in Park Slope. She wanted an online store that would preserve the feel of the physical store soon to be defunct.
After visiting a few toy stores in New York and Seattle and interviewing store owners, my team and I began by brainstorming a few ideas, solidifying some of the Iook & feel of the site and identifying major features. We also created four user personas to better understand the needs of the store customers.
UX Designers Sara Camnasio, Adelle Lin, Asher Friedman, Sharon Lee
We visited toy stores in New York City and interviewed store owners & parents. From these interviews, we identified the needs and goals of both stakeholders and clients and we defined the demographic of 4 potential user personas. We really wanted to build a strong sense of community through our product, so we identified potential functionalities that would allow that: a "learn" page and a user feed of reviews, namely. We started brainstorming with some messy sketches.
Research & brainstorming
We created some more concise sketches, which included a legend for potential iconography and a sketch of a "child mode" functionality.
We continued researching online toy stores and websites, particularly ones with “maker” and science toys. We collected information about 60 toys and compiled them into a Google Sheet.
We used the 60 toys we collected to determine our site categories and to populate our prototype. We card sorted the toys a few different ways (age, topic, difficulty) and created appropriate filters.
The toy sorting informed our categories and filters for the 'Shop' section of our site.
We created a sitemap to define the content hierarchy of our site.
We made a paper prototype of the site to test its usability and relevance of features.
We created 3 user personas based on our interviews and research:
Occupation: Electrical Engineer to stay-at-home Mom
Goal: Get a toy that fits her child’s growing interests and take part in playing with her children.
Challenge: Low budget and no knowledge of the specific topics her kids are interested in.
Goal: Learn the basics of robotics with a fun toy/kit and be prepared for her freshman robotics class.
Challenge: She is a complete beginner and has $130 budget. She does not know exactly how to get started.
Occupation: Financial Analyst
Goal: Spend time with his kids and learn about maker and STEM activities.
Challenge: He doesn't know much about any STEM/maker toys and doesn't have STEM background.
paper prototype: user testing
We user tested our paper prototype with 6 users to gauge any usability issues and general bugs. We instructed users in two different ways:
- We asked to play around with the website, and to say out loud what they thought it offered and what you could do with it;
- We asked them to log in, adjust some filters and purchase a toy. The latter was a reflection of a user journey of one of our user personas, Elizabeth.
We used Axure to create a more formal interactive prototype, which can be found here: http://5tm3qe.axshare.com/home.html
The homepage is the equivalent of the physical store's shopfront. There is a carousel of featured content, such as links to sign up for a Little Einstein account, special deals, and discounts and blogposts by Alberta (the store owner). Because some of the site users would be children, this page offers a 'Child Mode' option, where the products section expands full screen, the images become bigger and the text disappears. This would simulate the experience of a kid going to a physical toy store and picking toys off the shelf based on a gut instinct after seeing them.
The single product page features standard elements from e-commerce sites as well as novel ones that would allow Little Einstein to stand out in the market. There are links to resources and tutorials for learning how to build the toy or about the STEAM concepts behind it, as well as links to relevant blogposts by the store owner (Alberta) or by the community (more below).
The LEARN page, where users could look up toy-specific 'tutorials' as well as topic-specific 'resources.' This was one of our core functionalities, as it's great to bring more users to the site through the STEAM learning community. Because at the bottom of each tutorial and resource page there are related toys and books, it expands the customer base and creates additional value to the products being sold.
The COMMUNITY page is also a key feature for the identity of the store. It allows registered customers to post product reviews on a community feed so that they can inspire or help others who have purchased the same toy. Users can only post if they have purchased a toy, and there is only one review per toy allowed (see dropdown menu below).
ALBERTA'S BLOG, or the storeowner's page, is where the community can reminisce about going up to the counter when the physical store still existed. It features weekly recommendations of toys, blogposts about advice to parents on how to get started with maker toys or in general anything related to the STEAM community.
The EVENTS page features local events either hosted/sponsored/co-organized by Little Einsteins or in general public events related to the Maker community.
Finally, the ABOUT page features the history of the store, their mission and a contact form.
Registered user account page:
axure prototype: user testing
Through the feedback we received from user testing with 6 more people, we improved and finalized our interactive prototype.