2 week sprint
Understanding the context of what vintage shoppers are seeking when buying from online retailers and providing a useful, practical and appealing online shopping experience while navigating an upgraded web flow.
I love shopping. So it was easy for me to visit the store just to enjoy the browsing experience. I made sure (once I got over COVID) that I was able to get a sense of the store by walking into Round Two Vintage to get a feel for the store. It was empty when I walked in and I had a nice conversation with the man attending the store on that day. I didn't really ask him any pointed questions, I just browsed items in the store acting like a shopper.
For the whole 20 minutes that I was in the store, no one else came. On my way out I asked the clerk if they get a lot of sales from their instagram, and he said they get a lot of inquiries for items that are posted on their but most purchases are from in store sales.
It's important to get a sense of what I'm getting into in order to represent the physical store virtually in an authentic way.
This vintage t-shirt store is just around the corner from my apartment. It is located on a highly trafficked shopping street on Melrose Ave between Fairfax Avenue and La Brea Avenue in Los Angeles, California.
There are a variety of retail stores with many shoe stores, vintage stores, and new clothing stores in the neighbourhood. From mom and pop shops, tiny curated gift shops and boutiques, to established franchise stores like Foot Locker, Supreme or Reformation.
In this article, you can learn more about how the store owners built the store up by creating episodes of their new, vintage t-shirt stock by creating a YouTube channel, and gaining celebrity clients to proudly wear their clothing in the media.
I find this information useful know because it gives context to how this business has understood a certain niche in a subculture of shopping preferences, finding their advertising strategy through creating a YouTube Channel and building an authentic brand for shoppers that way.
Some things to consider are the amount of vintage stores nearby. This creates an insane amount of competition! Yet at the same time, it brings in a lot of foot traffic and therefore provides a lot more in store shopping.
Wasteland, American Rag, or Buffalo Exhange are all very large, staple vintage stores under 0.2 miles from Round Two vintage and are always heavily populated. Other bigger named stores such as Reformation who sell recycled fabric new clothes as well as vintage actually also were quite empty yet they have a very strong online presence.
It's important to understand the business models of neighbouring shops to see and understand how Round Two Vintage is setting itself a part deliberately, or is setting itself a part regardless of their business strategy.
I conducted a few ways of gathering information from shoppers who had shopped at the store before or have shopped in a vintage store before. The most useful was having a nice and long open ended conversation with engaging questions I was able to record between several people who shared their experiences with what their shopping preferences are when vintage shopping in store vs. online. I was able to gather valueable data from them by interviewing them because I would have never been able to come up with their experiences on my own if I hadn't asked them about what they seek.
I also wrote a few survey questions because I wanted to get a general sense of some basic demographics from vintage shoppers that could give me a better sense of how to design for those user habits. Any information is useful information but I drew most of my designs based off of the interview questions because I was able to get more information from people openly chatting to me instead of answers from guided questions.
Affinity Mapping the user interview questions and answers helps me see and understand what common patterns emerge from what people enjoy and experience from vintage shopping and I can understand what their preferences are without having to ask a direct question, the results find themselves through the patterns all the interviewers end up sharing in common.
"Danny needs a new t-shirt for tonights gig because between band rehearsals and working, she doesn't have a lot of time or money left to shop for new outfits. It's important to Danny that the band always looks fresh when playing a show if the bands wants to develop a large fan base."
It's important to guide the development of the designs around a problem statement in order to generate several options for solutions that might work for the brand and users. In this case I noticed that a lot of people like to shop vintage because it's cool, it's unique, and it can be more affordable than new clothes with gentrified style instead of original style which vintage provides.
Journey mapping helps give a framework of what the user might experience before finding the website, to using the website and getting what the user needs from navigating the website. For Round Two Vintage, I wanted to show an empathetic experience of how a user might face shopping in general and how they will end up feeling once they use the updated design.
It's important that the re-design of the e-commerce platform for Round Two Vintage represent the preferences from the interviewees. Generating some 'How Might We' questions is useful in kick starting a thinking process towards designing practical solutions from the research. I noticed when it came to vintage shopping online in particular, people like to make sure there are no rips, stains or smells because often vintage no matter how beloved it can be, can often come damaged and people like to know they are somehow getting something old and used, like new or at least in good condition.
This user flow helps me understand and map out choices the user will consider while undergoing every clickeable step. It is helpful as a precursor to the design process so that I know what to keep in mind and to consider through their shopping experience.
Wire framing Sketching
It's fun for me to sketch out ideas by hand because I love the process of physically drawing things out. Something about my imagination and my physical hand in combination comes out differently than purely online. It's play before design. Below are some examples of how I came up with the template for the design for Round Two Vintage
What a fun-tastic portrait of a virtual usability test of the prototype I designed of my friend Boyan!
He had a nice time experiencing something completely brand new, and quickly learning
where he had to click in order to complete his purchase.
Please click video below to go through the prototype yourself!
It's my hope that by creating these wireframes and prototypes I am able to communicate a narrowed down version of the research into a useable design for Round Two Vintage.