In the summer of 2020 I participated in the UX Writing Academy by UX Writing Hub. Over the course of 3 months I worked on developing the user experience for an imaginary e-commerce site.
Since we were all stuck in lockdown it seemed that everyone I knew had been doing a lot of puzzles at home. I decided to build my imaginary e-commerce site as a source for sustainable puzzles and other educational toys and games for all ages.
I reached out to zero waste groups, parent groups, and gamer groups on Facebook and Reddit to ask where they shop for educational toys and games.
I also did independent searches for online stores that sell the types of products I envisioned for ecologic.
Competitors either specialize in products for babies, kids, or adults. There’s an opportunity to appeal to a broad age range.
With a large product catalogue, organization and search features are key to prevent information overload.
Using Google Forms I crafted a survey to gain insight into the behaviors and preferences of users.
I had 64 participants sourced from my personal network, Facebook, reddit, and LinkedIn.
40% in their 30s
About 20% in their 20s and another 20% in their 40s
About 60% purchased puzzles, tabletop games, or educational toys within the last 12 months.
Over 80% said that sustainability mattered to them to some degree - 45% said it was very important.
Jigsaws, model kits, and board games were the most popular items.
Price is a major hurdle for users to purchase sustainable products
Users who really care about sustainability were most concerned with the trustworthyness of brands. They carefully research products before making purchases.
I reached out to experts in the world of puzzle retail as well as avid puzzlers via LinkedIn and in my personal network.
I interviewed one industry expert—the director of planning for an indirect competitor—and one consumer. Each interview was around 30 minutes long.
Users want visually-appealing puzzles that will provide hours of entertainment.
They want puzzles made from quality materials that will last a long time.
They want puzzles that are both fun and challenging that they’ll want to play with again and again.
Replayability adds value and increases sustainability.
Quality durable products
Replayable (value for price)
Time and effort spent researching sustainability
Puzzles may be frustrating or not age appropriate
Using the information I gathered during the research phase I created two user personas to help me understand my audience. I referred back to these personas throughout the design phase to ensure my my voice and tone were appropriate, and that my copy was properly engaging and addressing any user fears.
Conclusions - research
The business concept may be too broad for the market. The initial focus should be on puzzles (including jigsaws, 3D puzzles, and brainteaser puzzles) with the possibility to expand into other types of games in the future.
More 1:1 interviews and survey respondents would have been helpful in gathering meaningful data. However, the consistency in responses across even this small sample set with data gained from expert interview suggests that a larger pool of users would have similar answers.
Designing the experience
Content mission statement
I used this statement as the cornerstone upon which I built my style guide, developed information architecture, and wrote copy for the user interface.
Ecologic is the place where environmentally conscious people of all ages can go to find puzzles that are eco-friendly, attractive, and mentally stimulating. Our goal is to elevate minds and lower carbon footprints through sustainable play.
Content style guide
To ensure the copy, messaging, and voice were consistent I created a mini content style guide:
Welcome to EcoLogic's mini content style guide!
This guide is intended to assist anyone who writes copy for EcoLogic. How we talk
to people can make a big difference in how they feel about our product and services.
Our goal is to make sure users get the right message, encouragement, and instructions
at the right time.
Think of EcoLogic as your favorite elementary school teacher - friendly, warm, and helpful.
Our customers are mainly women who are shopping for their families.
Fantastic teachers make life so much better for the student's whole family.
Learning is fun, parents are motivated to be more involved, and kids build fond
memories of lessons that last a lifetime.
We're all about learning through play. Our products are fun, and so are we!
Keep things light and conversational
Use positive statements
Delight users with fun (but useful) copy
Be overly enthusiastic
Force humor when it doesn't come naturally
We're welcoming and inclusive. We do more than simply not exclude - we're here for learners of all ages and neurodiversity.
Use inclusive language
Empathize with users' feelings
Make users feel comfortable and relaxed
We help our customers develop cognitive skills and environmental awareness. We're focused on helping people and the world.
Be bossy or aggressive
Be didactic or condescending
I made a list of all the features Ecologic should have. Then I sorted them based on their priority level.
Since this was an individual project and had to be completed within 3 months, the scope was limited to the principle user journey of purchasing a product.
Wireframes and mockups
I sketched some very rough wireframes on my iPad to help visualize the layout and information hierarchy.
I polished things up and made some mockups in Figma.
With the designs complete I began testing the content with users.
Objectives: To find and eliminate pain points in the process of checking out
Medium: Combined Google Slides prototype with Google Forms survey
Methodology: Testing was done remotely due to COVID. Some participants who agreed to spend more time on this were shown the Slides prototype that presented different options for screens one after the other. Other participants completed a survey asking their preference between options of specific copy sections with an opportunity to provide open ended feedback.
Participants: All participants were sourced from my personal network. Participants were all people who shop online, but have varying degrees of comfort with the internet and digital experiences.
2 participants for Google Slides
1 male age 43, very comfortable online but not an avid shopper
1 female age 70, not comfortable with digital experiences but is a frequent online shopper
18 participants for survey of mixed ages, genders, and perspectives
I would have preferred to have more participants going through the slides to give detailed feedback, but was unable to find enough willing participants within a reasonable time frame. People were eager to help out when I offered the survey option and I got a lot of very useful feedback very quickly.
The original tagline was "Sustainable play that's good for your brain," but after copy testing it I decided to make a change.
Even though most participants voted for the ‘sustainable play’ option, when I asked for more open ended feedback it turned out that many of them had only a slight preference for it. About ¼ of participants felt that the word sustainable in this context was confusing or vague.
The second most popular option, "Elevate your mind and lower your carbon footprint, "was easily understood by all participants, and is the most succinct of the other three options.
One of the user pains I found during discovery was having to spend a lot of time researching sustainability before making a purchase. To make things easier for users, I put a banner on the product page with the brand promise, "All ecologic puzzles are made sustainable and ship in zero waste packaging."
I thought I could make it more concise so I tested, "All ecologic puzzles are made and shipped sustainably."
Over 2/3 of participants thought the shorter version was too vague, so I stuck with the first version.
Several participants weren’t sure how to create an account during the checkout flow so I added a link to create a new account. To limit information overload, I shortened the copy underneath which reassures the user that their personal info won’t be misused.
Based on user feedback I updated and added microcopy to several parts of the flow:
At the end of the checkout flow I updated, "You'll have another chance to review your order before you complete your purchase in the next step." It was a little long, and users reacted more positively to the shorter message, "You'll have another chance to review your order before you complete your purchase."
On the order review step I added an estimated delivery date. Participants all appreciated the transparency.
Participants felt unsure about reviewing their order with only product titles, so I added thumbnail images to help.
The order confirmation message I wrote at first felt a bit long and I wasn't sure how users would feel about the brand language. "That was the final piece of the puzzle! We've received your order and will get to work packing it up for you right away. We sent a confirmation to your email, and we'll email you again with tracking details when your order ships." I tested the full message and a version using only the last sentence. I was surprised to learn that participants unanimously preferred the longer version.
The final version
In a real product there’s no such thing as a final version really. But, since this was a course project with limited scope, I stopped after one round of testing. Here are the revised mockup screens:
Many participants found the term ‘sustainable’ to be confusing. While the core demographic of environmentally conscious users will understand the term, avoiding it will allow for inclusion of a wider audience.
One of my ideas was to include a recycling program where people could send in used puzzles which would be cleaned up or repackaged as needed and given to shelters, nursing homes, or hospitals. I would add that to the site’s main navigation and test different names for it.
Since users enjoyed the brand language in the checkout confirmation, I would test more of it throughout the site. I would also add a randomized puzzle-themed confirmation message so users could see a different one each time they check out.
Get in touch
Interested in working with me on your next project? I'd love to hear from you.