Duration | 2 Weeks Tools | Sketch, InDesign
A mobile app, TailorMade is Etsy’s answer to an emerging trend in customer preferences away from mass produced, rampant consumption toward bespoke, intentional consumption. It meets this trend and user needs by matching buyers with available, vetted artisans for commissioning one-of-a-kind pieces, providing them with the option to either search for and engage individual artists or post and receive multiple artist quotes for their commissions.
Role | Research + Strategy Lead, Sketching
I was part of the three-person project team. My duties were to define and execute the research plan, coach teammates on their research roles, lead synthesis of the user and business data gathered, and uncover key insights and opportunity areas. Together with the team, I helped ideate and sketch the design, define the interaction design, articulate user flows and tasks, and prepare the final client presentation.
Design Process + Methods
It was important at the onset of this project for us to more deeply understand user experience and habits related to Etsy as well as the company’s current approach to and footprint in the one-of-a-kind market. To achieve this, we did a combination of user field research and business analysis. What was a relatively flat project brief came to life through the insights that we discovered.
First, through our business research and task analysis, we learned that Etsy is already attempting to break into this market through their “Custom Order” feature. Unfortunately, our repeated attempts to use this feature were delayed because of challenging button placement and conflicting use of the word “custom” throughout the site. During our interviews, we asked users if they'd used the feature and found "I didn't even know it existed" a consistent reply.
With that information in mind, we dove into the user interviews, conducted with individuals who shopped at Etsy two or more times per year and who have had custom made goods created in the past. We learned that customers use Etsy for gift giving and events with a personalized touch. They like that buying from Etsy means they are supporting small business, and they appreciate when artists respond quickly to their requests, letting them know if they can or cannot fulfill their orders. The data from our interviews was validated by a review of App Store comments from the last calendar year. Their 4.7 ratings often come with headlines that include the word “LOVE!”
It’s a good thing they love it because across the board, our users have common pain points:
With these findings and a common persona in mind,
We were met with a significant decision point. Do we...?
We weighed the pros and cons, all centered around two guiding questions:
- What will best position Etsy to enter the one-of-a-kind market?
- What will solve for the shortcomings Abby and other users like her face with Etsy's existing platform?
We used an importance/ difficulty matrix and chose the more radical path: to create a dedicated app for Etsy's one-of-a-kind business. That left us with the following design challenges to solve for:
Design challenges in hand, we got brainstorming, pulling from our comparative research and analysis on project management,artist commissioning and quote-based platforms.
Given my background in service design, I spent a good amount of time thinking about the concept and surrounding system. I was asking questions about artist vetting, the proposal cycle, and what would be different about each user group's experience. Every evening, our team gave each other homework to “come back with some ideas” on everything from layout to interaction design, and we would pick apart, build on and ultimately co-design each screen and step in the user flow and task.
One of my teammates was the lead wireframer and took these designs, turning them into a clickable prototype for testing. We made changes based user feedback during usability testing for this presentation.
We presented our process and a clickable prototype and sent our wireframes and research report to Etsy's design team.
I had two major takeaways from this project. The first stems from the importance of research and the range of methods you can use to uncover the needs and desires of users. We leaned into user and comparative research on this project spending perhaps a third of our allotted time on it, which served us well in identifying a very specific design challenge at the intersection of user and business needs.
The second is that it is both good AND dangerous to fall in love with your solution. The research revelations we uncovered translated to a highly motivating design challenge for our team, perhaps too motivating. Our love for our solution led us to spend too little time getting user input throughout the process of designing individual components of our design. While we sought and received ample validation on the concept and conducted heuristic evaluations along the way, we know the user’s experience will be made only if the application provides continuity and congruence as well. It would have better served us (and our customers) to test the individual design elements along the way.