Everyday Music Ecommerce Website
Everyday Music is Pacific Northwest brick and mortar retailer with locations in Seattle, Portland and Bellingham. Each store stocks over 100,000 new and used records and CDs. They pride themselves in fostering low-tech, user-friendly and unpretentious shopping experience. This concept project was commissioned by GA as part of the user experience design immersive.
Everyday Music is a looking to reach more potential customers. They do not currently have an online storefront and they would like to establish an e-commerce solution to grown sales. It’s important to the company to maintain integrity with their current brand identity and business strategy.
Scope + Role
This project was time-boxed to two weeks. As an individual project, I was responsible for all aspects of design process including competitive research, user research, info architecture and interaction design culminating in a low-fidelity prototype. I was given a persona from previous research to accelerate the design process.
Onsite at Everyday Music
My first priority was to familiarize myself with the current Everyday Music experience. I went to the physical store where I listened to music, bought a few gems from the bargain bin and observed other customers. I was struck by the warmth, character and humanity that accompanied the physicality of the store interior. I especially appreciated the staff who were genuinely passionate about music, but not too cool to talk to me. One pain point I encountered was that I didn’t have a good way to find new music I might like. The genres were too broad and alphabetical organization would only be helpful if I were looking for a particular artist.
In my competitive research, I initially looked at other brick and mortar chains that bought and sold music online, but quickly realized these aren’t the real competition for Everyday Music. Instead the lion’s share of money being spent on music is going online streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music or Pandora. These services excel at helping people discover new music they love. Ironically, this was not a strength of Everyday Music. Despite having the knowledge and passion of great staff, their genre categorizations are impossibly broad and alphabetized sorting within genres is only helpful if I am already looking for a particular artist. This made me curious how Everyday Music might combine the benefits of their physical store front with the strengths of online music streaming platforms.
I also drew inspiration from comparative with another local business, Second Use, who use their website to manage used hardware inventory and position the website as a complement to the physical storefront.
After identifying discovery of new music as a critical pain point, I became interested in learning more about how people might intuitively find new music. The primary research methodology I used to explore this was an open ended card sort. I printed out several hundred popular album covers and asked five different volunteers to arrange the cards as if they were searching for new music they might want to buy. My primary discovery through this process was that almost all testers started by identifying an album that they were familiar with and liked. They then used this album as an anchor and would use it to arrange less familiar titles they thought might be similar.
As I started observing how my card sort testers associated similar albums to ones they already knew and liked, it became obvious that Everyday Music is already attempting to help customers make these connections, but are limited by a single physical location for each album.
For example, you can see how they tag albums by local to NW or new release, or staff picks based on other favorites. This guided my design direction to use the website as a complementary experience to the physical storefront that focused on intuitive music discovery.
How might brick and mortar retailer who has prided itself on being low tech embrace technology to improve users music discovery process?
My solution works off the belief that technology is not at odds with a friendly experience. Instead, a well-designed web presence can complement the physicality and warmth of a physical store. My design maintains organizational conventions around genres, new releases and alphabetical so as to match the models that customers expect. In addition to this, it leverages staff passion and expertise to add curated collections of music that are more akin to a Spotify playlist. This lets a customer identify an album that they like, just like a tester would in a card sort, and then find related collections or sub-genres might contain similar music.
In my usability testing, the feedback I received was that this felt natural and mapped to how people wanted to look for and discover music. One tester commented that they would use this site on their phone in the store to combine the benefits of the physical and digital experiences.
“Ooh, I like this. It feels like it would make me want to explore more!”
“This browsing curated lists matches how I shop—I prefer a human touch.”