I am the primary designer, doing the entirety of this project's design from conception to manifestation.
Emerald City (Redesign) - Proposed
I was tasked with proposing a redesign for a local comic book shop, called Emerald City. The current version of the website was intended to be primarily a store blog which was intended to be the primary place to disseminate news and information about happenings in the store. Later a Shopify store was tacked on to provide a post covid audience with shopping cart functionalities. This leaves the current version of the website feeling disjointed.
So like most things, this project began with conversations, I sought out people interested in comic books and the related subject matter. This particular target audience was one that I happen to be a part of, nerds.
I took a drive down to Emerald City Comics and informally interviewed a handful of the patrons of the establishment that would talk to me about their needs in a comic shop's website.
while most of the people I spoke with mentioned preferring the social nature of making the trip to their local comic book shop a fair number could see the need for shopping online in a post covid world.
The tale of two experiences
With a grasp of the audience and their needs, I decided I needed to understand what issues might exist with the current offerings. How effective was this site for patrons looking to purchase online?
A heuristic evaluation confirmed that the largest issue was indeed the contrast between the Shopify shopping cart and the and blog-centric format of the WordPress installation that makes up the rest of the site's experience.
Are other online comic shops like this?
Looking at local competitors of Emerald City Comics it became obvious that locally no one else was selling comics online. So this puts Emerald City Comics in the lead.
Simply offering shopping isn't enough?
We live in a world where just having minimum shopping cart functionality for your patrons isn't enough there are places like Amazon and even larger national comic retailers out there ready to delightfully take orders.
The Great Unification
I started the unification process by creating a new unified information architecture. This new IA made it easier to create a single cohesive menu rather than the multiple menus offered by the previous experience.
The unified mega menu below made improved the user experience by providing the user with an efficient global navigation system that is infinitely less chaotic.
In an effort to bring further cohesion to what is essentially two sides of the same coin. I began to generate possible design solutions using sketches and wireframes until I reached something I believed could effectively bring harmony to the website.
who am I doing this work for?
As I worked I kept my user (Lisa) at the center of my mind. Lisa was the distillation of all my research, she was the user I wanted to serve - one that got into comics because the pandemic gave us something new -- free time.
“I really got into manga during the pandemic, I'd love to easily buy them online, from a local store — crowds are still an iffy thing for me. ”
After I arrived at a place where the design's Wireframes felt complete and right, I turned them into a low-Fidelity prototype I shared with testing participants whose needs aligned with Lisa, the representation of my target user, and noted their frustrations comments. I replayed the captured user footage comparing it to my notes and observations from the sessions and made adjustments to the proposed product before continuing further down the road to high fidelity.
So creating a unified experience for what clearly is two sites that share a domain, probably hosted with two different hosts was an interesting challenge mostly for the information architecture challenges it presents.
The pre-covid functions of the website were adequate as they served as a space to distribute store-related content. In a post-pandemic world, the shopping cart functions of a website become an even greater necessity for a business to thrive.