ERIN CLAUSEN-McGEE
Designer based in NY 

Website under construction  

SINCERE FORMS:
A Digital Showcase & Marketplace



Year: 2024
Timeline: 2 months
Tools: Figma, Google Forms
Role: Research, strategy, and design



Challenge: How might we create a platform that connects a diverse range of creative talent to an untapped demographic?




INTRODUCTION

With ubitiqious marketplaces like Etsy and Instagram Shopping, the need for engaging platforms that connect the public with creative talent has increased in the last several years. 

The following case study delves into the design of a conceptual virtual showcase and marketplace that aims to bridge the gap between the independent producer and buyer.

Through a user-centered approach, it will examine the key challenges, design decisions, and iterative processes that shaped the development of this platform. 

It showcases how I conducted thorough user research and implemented design principles to create a platform that not only meets the needs of its users but also fosters a vibrant and collaborative ecosystem.

PRELIMINARY THOUGHTS


1. What is the relationship between one’s digital persona and success as a creative?

2. Can anyone’s work be ‘discovered’? Or does it need to follow algorithmic parameters? If so, how could we circumvent this?

3. I began by surveying a group of 18 individuals in regards to their shopping habits.

RESEARCH OBJECTIVES

  • Learn about the shopping habits of users aged 19–38
  • Understand how users research products and make purchases
  • Uncover how company values play a role in a purchase


Simultaneously, I conducted a survey with a group of 13 independent artists, designers, and other makers.

Based on the reponses, social media maintains a significant role in discovering unknown makers.

The study showed that social media maintains a significant role in the discovery of new makers and in product research. Consumers under the age of 30 have notably said they use social media ‘as a search engine to find new products’.

With the above in mind, how could we serve both the maker and user when decision paralysis is at an all high time?


KEY POINTS

Regarding shopping habits:
  • Independent creators can struggle with logistics and customer support (i.e. long ship times)
  • It requires more effort and time to discover a new brand or maker without social media
  • Multiple respondents who described themselves as frequent online shoppers (several purchases per month) also said that pricing plays a role in supporting an independent maker vs. a larger manufacturer

Maker survey:
  • Paid advertising drives more engagement over lifestyle posting unless you are doing it everyday or paying a team
  • Maintaining an authentic social media presence of your work and personality can be challenging and time consuming as a maker


DESIGN OBJECTIVES

  • Reach a newfound audience: Empower creatives to showcase their talents, reach a wider audience, and unlock new opportunities for growth and success.
  • Enhance the discovery and browsing experience for users: Design a platform that enables the user to effortlessly explore and discover a wide range of unique products, catering to their diverse interests and preferences.
  • Designing for usability and accessibility: Ensure the platform is intuitive, user-friendly, and accessible to users of all backgrounds and abilities, enhancing the overall user experience.

SURVEY RESPONSES

1. How often do you discover a new designer, brand, artist, or maker?




2. How frequently do you shop online?


3. Where would you typically discover a new designer, brand, artist, or maker?



SURVEY RESPONSES (continued)






What would an alternative platform look like for independent creators?

Personas & wireframe sketches


Brainstorming
Low Fidelity Wireframes





Information Architecture






As each piece varies in location, price, size, and shipping location, the accompanying experience should be highly personal - which is why the user can request to be contacted personally by Sincere Forms.

The user may also download a tech sheet with full specifications, item including the maker’s background, creative process, and more.







An simple and brief online application with optional resumé or CV requirement ensures equitable access to an innovative resource that promotes the arts, commerce, creates awareness, and strengthens the network of independent creatives.

How could we compliment search and discovery?


Keeping the search engine anecdote from earlier in mind, the online marketplace section of the site known as the ‘SF Store’ is organized by newest items. While the site encourages users to browse all categories, materials, and colors, users can choose from a number parameters to narrow their search in the left panel. 


Filtering System
SF SHOP Product Card


USING HEURISTICS + UX LAWS TO GUIDE THE PROCESS

Hicks Law


To ease decision making and encourage exploration, products are displayed in the SF Store in chronological order with an intuitive filter system. The user is free to browse thanks to an infinite scroll and fixed navigations. By referencing Hick's Law, we are limiting the number of options presented to users at a time to reduce the cognitive load.

Aesthetic-Usability Effect


Websites or applications with great aesthetics are assumed to generate more conversion. According to the aesthetic-usability effect, first impressions of a product or service matter the most to the consumers, and the one which looks well performs well. As such, the priority was to design a sleek website that highlights the unique features of each product.

The Law of Proximity

As users tend to subconsciously form groups of visible elements, there are two distinct sections on the site: a navigation header and filtering system to the left which are both fixed elements. By keeping this grouping element in mind, we are helping reduce friction in users’ minds and allowing them get a holistic view of the product.





CONCLUSION

By developing a deep understanding of the habits and pain points of both the creative and consumer, Sincere Forms was developed.

The platform aims to promote discovery and offers intuitive features to compliment browsing. By empowering the user to effortlessly navigate and discover a diverse range of handmade goods, Sincere Forms caters to all unique tastes and interests. The individualized purchasing process further enhances the user experience, ensuring an pleasant experience with a human touch.

Moving forward, the platform's success will hinge on its ability to adapt and evolve, continuously incorporating user feedback and emerging trends to maintain its position as a leading destination for creative discovery and collaboration. By staying true to its core values and user-centric approach, the platform is poised to continue its trajectory of growth and innovation, ultimately empowering both creative makers and consumers to create meaningful connections and transactions in the digital realm.