Adding Custom Ordering to Etsy

The Challenge

Etsy customers regularly engage in ordering custom made items. This process takes place through private messages, emails or phone calls to sellers, with no specified platform for communication. This provided an opportunity to expand Etsy's current product offerings by including bespoke ordering through the website. A proposed solution has been developed, in-keeping with current brand guidelines and including specific breakpoints for each device. 


Listening to Etsy buyers and sellers

A variety of research methods were used to understand how Etsy buyers and sellers collaborate on custom orders and to understand the challenges they when collaborating.

An online survey was developed which received 48 respondents. This included 4 sellers and 44 buyers, 13 of whom had previously customized an item. The survey was developed to get a clear understanding of buyer and seller profiles, how they used the website, and how they communicate with each other.

6 participants were then recruited from the survey to take part in more in depth interviews. All interviewees were representative of the user groups who participated in custom ordering through Etsy. Interviews were chosen as a research method to gain a deeper understanding of motivations behind certain behaviors and were used to develop key personas (along with survey results.)

Interview with a current Etsy user

Interview with a current Etsy user

Creating scenarios based on user research

Creating scenarios based on user research

Key Insight: Current communication tools are inefficient, increasing frustration for both sellers and buyers.  

Affinity diagramming was used to map patterns in responses from both the survey and interviews. This method was chosen as it provided clear visual links between statements and observations revealed during the interview process and survey results. 

Key findings included that current communication tools were inefficient, with limited ability to collaborate on designs and frequent miscommunications. Sellers expressed frustration over messy and inefficient communication, vague design briefs and lack of designer protection. Buyers were more concerned about time wasted during the process and a lack of transparency. Several recommendations were made by current users which were incorporated into the prototype including detailed briefs for buyers to complete when customizing an order and design collaboration tools within the website. 

Collaborating over sketches and wireframes

Collaborating over sketches and wireframes

Personas, Journey Mapping & Scenarios

Three core personas were developed based on our consolidated user research. "Nova" was chosen to be the primary persona and was used to develop scenarios, customer journey maps, user tasks and user flows. 

Wireframing & Prototyping

With user flows completed, we began sketching and wireframing as a group. These ideas were reviewed and used to develop our first prototype in Axure. This original prototype was tested with several users within the determined target demographic (25 to 35 year old females), and iterated based on testing results.

Primary persona: Nova

Primary persona: Nova

Jasmine's first task and task flow

Continuing the Project: User Tasks & Flows

At this point I continued the project individually to further expand on the visual design of the project. I decided to focus on another persona, Jasmine. This changed the focus of the prototype to wedding customization, so new scenarios, user tasks and task flows were developed. From here, a mobile to tablet site was developed, tested and iterated. 


Prototyping & Wireframing

Usability Testing & Iteration

Usability testing was conducted with 4 participants, all within the target market determined through user research (25-35 year old female.) 2 participants were asked to use the mobile device and 2 participants used the tablet device. All testing was recorded on either Silverback or UX Recorder (for mobile devices). This enabled a thorough review of usability problems that arose. Overall, usability testing revealed several small usability problems, which were changed with the next prototype iteration. 


Usability testing on mobile device using UX Recorder

Usability testing on mobile device using UX Recorder

Measuring Success

Metrics of success for this project were mainly surrounding the usability of the final prototype during testing and whether it successfully enabled collaboration between artisans and customers. Usability testing concluded that it did enable collaboration, however it was difficult to truly gauge how effective it was within a prototype simulating the collaboration experience between two personas. Had we had the resources to create a working website with real users communicating with each other, it would have been more valuable.

My Role

The research phase of this project was completed as a team, with my role including in-context and remote interviewing, ideation and wireframing, prototyping, interaction design and usability testing. Affinity diagramming was completed as a team and overall research synthesis was led by our lead UX researcher. I continued this project individually to expand on the research we had accomplished, and re-designed the user interface and interactions, conducting further usability tests before re-iterating the prototype. 





Tools Used

  • Trello
  • Google surveys
  • Whiteboards & markers
  • Pen & paper
  • Axure
  • Illustrator
  • Photoshop
  • Silverback
  • UX Recorder
  • Camtasia 2