Our client, the hypothetical Magic Toy Shop, was seeking to create an e-commerce site to access a broader client base.  We were provided with the company brief, including a description of the brand identity, core purpose, values and personality.  We also received 3 personas representative of their focus client base. These were John: a younger, tech-savvy father with a young daughter; Jasmine: an older grandma of a 9-year old; and Dexter: a late-20’s man into retro/cool/kitchy toys.  


  • Locate and conduct user research relative to company clients
  • Develop a fleshed out site from full-analysis to balance the needs of stakeholders with customer's preferences
  • quickly learn and impliment new tools
  • 2 week duration.


I was to design and deliver wireframes, sitemap, user flows, checkout forms and a prototype for the e-commerce site.  

a little inspiration

a little inspiration

sizing up the competition





my representative users

"I'd like to get her toys that teach her a skill-set"  

"I'd like to get her toys that teach her a skill-set"

"I like to see the toys in person."

"I like to see the toys in person."

"If I'm spending money, I want to know what I'm buying.

"If I'm spending money, I want to know what I'm buying.

Card Sorting with Post It's- example

Card Sorting with Post It's- example

a rough sitemap emerges

Beginning with the personas as my guides, I started by reaching out to people whom I thought would represent good living examples.  While lining these up, I also dove into comparative/competitive analyses.  I stacked up the websites of boutique and retro-focused toy companies alongside the big, established organizations.  

I started comparing competitive sites heuristically according to each personas declared wants/interests on a scale of 1-5.  Adding these up, I concluded:

  • e-Toys.com - 40
  • TimewarpToys.com - 48
  • RetroPlanet.com- 75
  • ToysRus.com - 80
  • TinToyArcade.com - 90

I then applied the analysis to the sites' navigation:

  • TimewarpToys.com - 30
  • eToys.com - 48
  • TinToyArcade.com - 50
  • ToysRus.com - 54

I was able to use these quantitative measurements to better hone into the successful elements.

After comparing and contrasting the key benefits and detractors of these sites qualitatively, I began interviews.  I spoke to a couple friends with children near the age of one of the main personas, a couple grandmothers and a fellow student, to effectively represent the user personas.  This process was extremely eye opening for me, as I found out that almost all exclusively favored brick-and-mortar stores like Target, or the online megamarket, Amazon.  

I also began developing the Magic Toy Shop site map using card sorting.  I attempted a couple different online programs, but found these to be more confusing than helpful, and so abandoned them in lieu of post it notes.  

I found myself struggling a bit trying to format a site map hierarchy that would effectively represent the variety of products on offer and speak to the needs of the personae - but also keep breadth and depth of the navigation in check.  After many iterations, a balanced solution began to emerge. 

This lead me to dive into sketching and creating wireframes in Omnigraffle.  I wanted to be sure to anchor my decisions in the expressed pain points and needs of the personas as much as possible.  So with this firmly in mind, and playing off the invaluable insights and inspirations I’d gathered via interviews, I developed the look and feel of the wireframes.  I wanted the site to offer a balance of appeal to both kids and adults, while offering an effortless ease of use, dependability, sociability and loyalty to it’s clients.  

some of the final wireframes

So I kept all this in mind as I developed the structure and user flows.  All the categories, buttons, search options, and checkout process were designed to be as easy, seamless and as enjoyable as possible.


Looking back on the project, I’m happy with many decisions, such as the checkout flow and ‘quick toy finder’ option.  But based on later usability tests, some things stand out for improvement.  

First of all, I would have spent more time initially detailing the navigation options and page placement.  The users I spoke to seemed to find the placement of the 2 main menu bars confusing.  Upon refinement I would switch the placement of the two main bars, so that the ’Age/Category/Brand/Characters/Deals’ bar was nested under ‘Refine Your Results’, and the drop down menu on the left would go in it’s place at the top.  I think this would make more sense hierarchically.  

I also would remove the nav bar on the checkout page, as it seems unnecessarily distracting.

Finally, I now really understand importance of prioritizing one persona over others, as it can help to avoid scope creep, and the threat of 'featuritis'.