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DIY Merch

An ecommerce site for customizable punk merchandise.

Role: UX research and design
Tools: Adobe XD and Photoshop

 

Background

The punk ethos is all about DIY, or "Do it yourself."  This applies to everything from making music to making t-shirts.  But what if you don't have access to the resources and materials needed to DIY?

 

Understanding our Users

Though this was a random prompt from Sharpen, I chose it because it's a challenge near to my heart, and lived experience.  But as a UX researcher, I know it's important to avoid assumptions and bias, so I began by surveying potential users who identify as "punk" to make sure that I understood their frustrations and needs.

 

Insights from User Surveys

The survey was conducted remotely, with 47 respondents from a diverse set of backgrounds.  Most respondents were from the western part of the U.S.  Findings were consistent across age, gender, race, and location.

Participants were asked to share their experiences of both websites that sell punk merch and websites that sell custom merch.  (No direct competitors selling custom punk merch have been identified.)  The following figures summarize a synthesis of responses to multiple choice, likert scale, and short answer questions.

78%

"Too Commercial"

The majority of respondents felt that existing websites that sell punk merch feel "too commercial."

62%

"Not punk"

Most respondents felt that items marketed as "punk" do not match their personal idea of punk.

68%

"Too overwhelming"

Respondents who had tried custom t-shirt making websites felt overwhelmed by the length of the process and number of choices.

53%

"Not enough choices"

Many respondents expressed frustration with being unable to choose a desired size, fit, or color when buying merch.

 

Meet Max

Based on surveys and follow up interviews with 3 participants, I developed a persona to help keep in mind the users I am designing for, as I design.

Max is a person who wants to make his own t-shirts, pins, and hats, but lacks the resources needed.

DIY Merch Max Persona.jpeg
 

From Insights to Ideation

Understanding potential users allowed me to define a clear goal for the project:

Create a website that allows users to create custom punk merch in a way that feels easy, fun, and true to the punk ethos.

Next, I needed to envision the user's journey.  How would they go about making merch through the website?

 

Max's journey

Outlining the user's journey revealed key opportunities to meet the user's needs.

User Journey Map Max.jpeg
 

Site Map

After outlining the basic user journey, I was ready to create a site map.

Sitemap Template.jpeg
 

Wireframes

To prepare for the first round of usability testing, I created some basic desktop and mobile wireframes.

wireframehome.png
wireframechoosemerch.png
Wireframe Choose Design.png
 

Usability Study

I conducted a remote usability study with 5 participants from diverse backgrounds.  These are the top insights from the study.

Less words, more pictures

Users do not want to read instructions on how to make merch.  Ideally, the process would be explained in pictures, or it would be so intuitive that instructions are not needed at all.

Clear steps feel good

Users felt overwhelmingly positive about the experience of being led step-by-step through the merch making process.  It was always clear what to do, and they didn't feel overwhelmed by needing to make multiple decisions at once.

One step checkout, please

Interestingly, users did not want the step-by-step experience to extend into checkout.  They wanted everything on one screen.  Enter your information, get a confirmation, and bam- your merch is on its way.

 

Hi-Fi Prototype

Insights from the usability study were incorporated into the high fidelity prototype.

 

Impact on Users

I conducted a survey of users who self-identify as consumers of punk merch to see how well the final design meets the product goal of being "fun, easy, and true to the punk ethos."

95%

Fun

95% of users agreed that the merch making process was fun.

100%

Easy

100% of users agreed that the merch making process was easy.

76%

Punk

76% of users agreed that the merch making process felt "punk," which is pretty impressive if you consider the audience!

 

Takeaways

  • As a designer, I need to offer users a "just right" quantity of choices to avoid overwhelm.  When lots of choices need to be made, breaking the process down into concrete steps is essential.

  • As a designer, I need to consider the culture of the intended users in addition to their needs.  Slick and glossy designs are repellent to some users.

  • As a designer, I should strive to create designs that can be understood without long textual explanations.  The FAQ or "How it Works" page can be made available to those who need it without forcing all users to start there.