The Little Einstein
Online STEAM Toys Store
Team of 3
( Advised by Professor Dana Karwas)
Ideation & User Research
Visuals and Prototyping
Little Einstein was formerly a beloved toy shop in Park Slope Brooklyn that sold STEAM DIY kits (Science, Technology, Enginieering, Math, Art+Design), but the storefront was too expensive and the shop closed in 2012. Based on the shop owner’s needs, we decide to convert the store to online only focused on technology and electronics products geared towards kids ages 4 – 15.
According to the requirements from our client, the design challenge is ...
How to design an online store that not only reflects STEAM features but also maintain an online community where parents and kids can hang out and share their unique experiences?
In order to understand our users, we did contextual inquiry in two stores, Toy Tokyo and Toy R Us. We interviewed 10 customers and 2 shopkeepers based on the question lists:
- How do you categorize your toys?
- What do you think about community vibe?
- Do the store has membership or holiday discount?
- Do customers usually ask salesman for personal recommendation?
- Do you feel confused about the categories here? Can you easily find the toy you want?
- What do you think about community vibe?
- Which way do you prefer when you want to buy toys? Online or offline? Why?
- Do you need personal guide?
Based on the user research in the context inquiry period, we developed 3 personas that represent our target users.
Our team spent a lot of time researching our targeted users before ideation phase. We did brainstorm to think of all possible functions our online toy store can include based on our research.
In order to categorize various STEAM products clearly and orderly, we collected 50 items which belong to STEAM toys from different online toy stores and did the card sorting in two ways.
In the first stage, we did it by type. We divided them into robots, art, electronics, math & science, and construction.
In the second stage, we did it by age. At first we did it by 4-7, 7-10, 10-15. But since we consider that most toys’ age intervals are not closed, so we changed it to to 4+, 8+ and 11+.
Card sorting: by type and by age
After we had brainstormed possible solutions and conducted card sorting, we created a detailed site map outlining where each of The Little Einstein's features would be developed. This helped us organize and clarify how the product could meet users' desires. Plus, this allowed us to distribute our multiple burdens evenly.
Wireframes and Iterations
Based on our sitemap, we created our paper prototypes which include the following features:
- Clear categories and multi-filter system.
- Theme events and paired books.
- Membership, promotion code and sales.
- Personal recommendation based on big data.
- Live chat for personal customer service(including customized recommendations).
- Community forum which is used for sharing experience of playing toys.
Because we want to check some main functions such as shopping and payment before doing the clickable prototype, we interviewed 10 people and let them test our paper prototype.
After taking notes, we concluded five main problems based on the user test. Most of the users mentioned that our paper prototype didn’t have check out page, so we added the check out page in order to provide complete payment experience for the users. Also based on the other main problems, we added live chat button on each item detail page, and added the all products button on the product list. Besides, we added track package page and interaction of applying promo code.
First round user testing
Top 5 problems of first user testing
Based on our paper prototype and user testing 1, we made low-fi prototypes based on the main functions and tasks. The prototype includes 5 main functions to meet both client and target users’ needs: item navigation, shopping process, log in and account, forum for interest groups and customer service.
Since we wanted to know if our prototype meets users’ requirements, we did the second user testing. We invited 5 target users, both adults and children to do the test. In order to easily test all our functions, we made 4 tasks for the user test:
Task 1: Find a toy for your 8-year-old son.
Task 2: Join a group
Task 3: View your account
Task 4: Seek for customer service
5 user flows of each tested user
We concluded 4 main problems based on the 2nd user test:
1. The website didn’t have the wishlist page
2. Lack of link to customer service page
3. Can’t search items
4. Can’t click the checkout button on shopping cart page
When we already have iterated the prototype and fixed all the problems from user tests, we made our final version of prototype that not only caters to users’ needs but also meets users’ using habits.
This video is a full walkthrough of the whole platform, it displays all use cases of the online toy store.
This project has clear topic and requirements, so it’s easy for us to define the theme. But we found that it’s difficult to meet both client and target users’ needs, especially when those needs conflict with each other. Therefore, it’s important to do the user research and define the problems, then balance their importance for client and make compromises. Besides, I think we can improve the contextual inquiry next time, for example, quantify our questionnaire and make comparative analysis based on various toy stores, so that it would be easier for us to conclude the pain points and find solutions.