I have been a loyal Etsy user since 2013. What drew me to the company was that it allowed users to purchase from small businesses during a time when larger e-commerce sites were booming. As I started spending more time on my phone, I began using the IOS Etsy app and started to find areas of opportunities that could make the user's experience more seamless. As a passion project, I decided to conduct usability tests to uncover if other users have similar or different pain points while using the app.
1. Uncover usability pain points and needs
2. Design solutions that address users' needs
3. Iterate based on testing
As a first step, it was imperative that I researched exactly how many Etsy users shop or sell through the app to validate the need for this passion project. My findings are as follows:
Knowing that more users interact with Etsy via mobile phone over other platforms, I wanted to read through reviews of the mobile app to get unbiased opinions and uncover pain points I could solve for.
"A lot of what I see isn’t relevant and it floods the “for you” section
despite only viewing one item.”
"The app isn't user-friendly for frequent shoppers who build out their Favorites list. There should be a filter or search bar feature."
"The homepage is chaotic and overwhelming."
With the insights from my app review research in mind, I conducted user interviews to find commonalities in needs and pain points. Using key findings from the Etsy app reviews as well as from my user interviews, I identified trends in pain points and categorized them below:
1. App-generated content:
Users feel that the Etsy app doesn't prioritize the promotion of deals, sales or specific seasons at the top of the landing page. Also, the content displayed skews towards recent activity over new recommendations.
2. Managing Content:
When users do want to be inspired, the homepage is saturated with recommendations that aren’t always relevant to them.
3. Filter Ability:
Frequent users who utilize the favorite option have a hard time filtering through their list to find older items.
4. Search Feature:
Users usually know what they want to purchase before entering Etsy therefore, use the search function the most.
I decided to conduct a competitive analysis against the high-level pain points users had in order to find points of differentiation in the competitive market as well as borrowing from successful executions of comparative features.
After conducting interviews and finding common pain points between users, I created a persona to help humanize who I am designing for.
In order to create solutions for pain points, I wanted to first understand how a user moves through the app currently. This way, I'd be able to visualize and pin point where the areas of opportunity are.
I conducted usability tests of the mobile app to help uncover how user's move through the app and where there are pain points. In this section, I point out key issues and my solutions to them.
Issue: Users feel that the Etsy app doesn't prioritize the promotion of deals, sales or specific seasons at the top of the landing page.
“This summer when the BLM movement was gaining more momentum, Etsy caught on but it was very difficult to find where BLM-related items were being sold. I'd expect it to be advertised where users can view it easily.”
Issue: When users do want to be inspired, the homepage is saturated with recommendations that aren’t always relevant.
“Things that I favorited months ago pop up as my recent favorites and I really dislike that.”
Issue: Frequent users who utilize the favorite option have a hard time filtering through their list to find older items.
"I save a lot of items so when I need to search for something within the tab, it's frustrating because there is no easy way to locate them unless I go list by list."
Issue: Users usually know what they want to purchase before entering Etsy therefore, use the search function the most.
"The search feature is my most used feature within this app which is why I wish there was a way to locate it regardless of where I am in the app."
To validate my proposed design solutions, I conducted high-fidelity tests and found significant improvements from my initial usability tests.
This passion project was both challenging and rewarding because it was the first time I worked alone as a UX researcher and designer. I learned a lot about my UX abilities and surprised myself with how intuitive the process felt. This project also made me realize that I am a generalist in that I love researching as well as designing to solve problems.
An early research issue I had was trying to conduct usability tests on phones remotely. After reading numerous articles on how to do this successfully, I simply wasn't able to find an app that could assist. Therefore, I conducted most usability tests on people who were in my quarantine bubble.
A design issue that I had was that the Etsy design system was not public so I got scrappy using the "inspect" option on their website though it did not solve for all items I needed. More specifically, I wasn't able to get the exact font used on the app because it would cost far too much to purchase it.
For my next steps, I would love to test and ideate on my designs even more and build out other features within the app. I also had the idea to incorporate more of a connection between buyer and seller because all users said that they feel good when shopping with Etsy because it provides a "shop locally" feel. My ideas are as follows:
- Highlight sellers on the homepage
- When user's purchase an item, include a short bio of the seller to humanize the connection and what it means to shop local.