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Park Ave CDs

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I discovered my love for visual design and clean aesthetics with this e-commerce project. 
Mobile design
Web design
User research
Visual Design

Covid-19 has forced independent record stores to boost their online presence.

With the onset of Covid-19, independent record stores have been facing a unique set of challenges. With global supply shortages, shipment delays, increases in prices, and federal restrictions, stores must figure out how to successfully shift their brand to accommodate e-commerce.
Independent record stores like Park Ave CDs have thoughtfully and intentionally crafted a user-centered, in-store shopping experience of “nostalgic music discovery” that is difficult to translate onto an online format.

My goal with this project was to bring the digital shopping experience as close to the physical shopping experience as possible, while also ensuring that the perks of having an online store are taken advantage of.

I conducted a UX audit to find problem areas.

Conducting a UX audit with 5 users confirmed a variety of issues when browsing Park Ave CD's website. A few examples include:
  • A footer with low contrast between the font and background
  • Too many moving parts and animations.
  • A navigation menu with only one long dropdown and poor categorization.
  • Elements that are not responsive or properly aligned.

What makes Park Ave CDs stand out against competing local stores?

I explored the web for any useful information I could find about Park Ave CD's brick and mortar location. I discovered the following through online reviews and by conducting a competitive analysis:
  • Wide selection of music: Their catalogue of music is the largest and most diverse in the area.
  • Their non-music items are attractive: Customers find their selection of merch and gifts to be just as compelling as their music catalogue
  • Knowledgeable, friendly staff: Their staff gives excellent recommendations and can personally hunt down a special record for you.

Why choose the online experience over in-store, and vice versa?

I conducted 5 interviews with people who purchase vinyl records. I also gathered 32 survey responses about their vinyl purchasing habits. Some of the key insights were:
  • Browsing habits are different online versus in-store: Nearly all participants are "looking for something specific" when they shop for records online. In contrast, those who shop in-store want to take the time to browse and discover records they may have never known of.
  • Human connection matters: A majority of participants prefer to have a meaningful connection with store employees.
  • Save time and money online: Participants would choose to shop online primarily to save time and money

"It's important that I check the quality of a used vinyl before I purchase it."

"If I cannot find a record I want, someone at a record store can help me hunt it down or put in a special order for me"

"I enjoy browsing and talking with employees and the store owner"

"I have a better chance of stumbling across something interesting in a physical store."

Park Ave. CDs will deliver an exceptional online shopping experience by providing personalized product recommendations, a smooth checkout process, a chat bot for instant support, and an organized navigation structure.

(Insert persona image)


Which user should we focus on?

For this sprint, I focused on designing for a customer who regularly shops for vinyl and frequently visits the physical store.
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Uniting the best of both the in-store and online experience.

Based on preliminary research, user interviews, and user surveys. I proposed the following design principles...
  •  Personalized product recommendations: To increase cross-selling, the website should automatically present products that are catered to each individual's tastes.  
  • A smooth checkout process:  Customers expect a very swift checkout process when shopping online.
  • A chat bot for human support:   I determined that a chat bot was the best way to maintain some of the human interaction and request special orders.
  • An organized and detailed navigation structure:  To encourage more browsing and discovery, users should be able to explore different artists and categories, similar to the in-store experience. 

Navigation and categorization.

I redesigned and organized the information architecture (see 2nd slide) by using card sorting techniques.
  • Showcasing interesting offers first: I put "Deals and Drops" as the first category for those that are looking to stumble upon a unique offers for an attractive price.  
  • Improved category refining: The ability to refine a search is one of the benefits of an online store. Customers should be able to search for characteristics that cannot a physical store such as vinyl size, format, release date, etc.
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Checkout made easier.

  • In-store pickup: To cater to buyers that prefer same-day service and for buyers who wants to inspect a used record after purchasing.

Personalized recommendations.

  • Personalization upon onboarding:  Users can link their Spotify or Apple Music account with their profile in order to receive recommendations curated to their tastes. 
  • "Related products" and "For You" section: Product description pages also provide recommendations based on their purchase history, browsing history, and related products.

Chatbot assistance.

I added a chat bot that can give quick, automated music recommendations based on their profile OR can connect the user to a live expert at the store (during open hours) to provide human-suggested recommendations. 

Responsive design for mobile.

65 percent of traffic to e-commerce sites come from mobile or tablet. The website was adapted to suit the mobile screen as well.

The features, user flow and visual design remained the same but altered to make it ideal for the mobile user.
Mobile Design

I learned....

I learned the following...
  • In e-commerce, it is best to figure out how to promote deals and newsletter sign-ups without appearing too pushy. You don’t want to risk alienating your customer with oversized banners, pop-ups, etc. 
  • This project allowed me to sharpen my skills using Sketch, a software I had never used before.

If given more time...

If given more time, I would do the following...
  • Focus on the secondary user, which is someone who wants to purchase a record for the first time.
  • Revisit the chatbot flow and add the ability to answer general questions about the store: return policy. shipping time, hours of operation, upcoming events, etc.
  • Focus on community-based aspects of the site. More specifically, I would work on the events page for both in-store and online events.
  • Make social sharing easy because it can increase conversions and SEO rankings.
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