Designing a Product for E-Commerce

How does E-commerce influence product design? How can the digital space enhance and support a physical product? We were tasked with developing a baby food maker specifically for the emerging world of E-commerce. We moved to design a baby food maker to aide in providing for their children and enabling choice for parents to make their own baby food. 

I developed this project with Rebecca Nicoara, Abigail Maeder, Kelsie Thomas, and Cameron Chartier

My personal role included leading design research, stakeholder identification, benchmarking, conducted interviews, task analysis, observational analysis, usability testing, journey mapping, insight generation, and design recommendations.

Initial Research

This project kicked off by generating foundational research questions.

Initial Research Questions:​

  • How does E-Commerce influence product design?

  • What is the intersection between the digital and physical product space?

  • What online factors influence parent’s purchasing decisions?

  • Can a physical product design benefit sales in a digital market place?

  • Why do parents choose to make their own baby food?

  • How can we design a power tool that aides in parents providing for their children?

We implemented the following methodologies to begin answering these questions.

1/1

We had the opportunity to conduct a think-aloud session with a mother preparing food for her child. She was incredibly careful and meticulous throughout the process constantly monitoring the food to make sure she was providing her child with the highest level of nutrition and care.

During our benchmarking we took the time to make our own baby food to gain stronger empathy for the process and experience the journey first hand.

Our user interviews led us to conversations with mothers with diverse backgrounds. By speaking with people from different environments and upbringings we began to identify influencing factors for parents' decision making

Making Baby Food Task Analysis

Buying Baby Food Task Analysis

Although making homemade baby food is considerably more labor intensive than buying pre-made baby food, parents still choose to take the process into their own hands.

Several of the parents we spoke to claimed they made their own baby food because of cost savings. 

We compiled market data for high quality ingredients and directly compared these costs to premade baby food and found an average saving of $15.99/week or $689/year if you include the cost of a specialized baby food maker.

*Caricatures designed and made by Becca Nicoara

Our target customers evolved into two different personas that have many shared priorities but achieve their shared goals with different methodologies.

After observing several users go through and purchase baby food makers online we developed an interactive survey that tracked user clicks. This survey was a mock-up of an Amazon & Walmart E-Commerce page and asked the user to select three baby food makers they were interested in. Once the users selected their choices we then asked them to explain why they chose those options.

Deciding Factors of 32 Participants:

Brand Name/Brand Recognition: ​31%

Reviews/Star Ratings: 31%

Interesting Form/Unique Design: 27%

Sponsored/Amazon's Choice/Promoted: 11%

Insights and Design Recommendations

Our efforts yielded 4 major insights and imperatives that directly influenced design decisions and focus.

Communities

There is a parent community online (social media/mommy blogs) where parents go for resources on purchasing decisions and cooking tips.

How can we provide the same benefits of the online community in our e-commerce model?

Control

A growing mistrust of processed food is causing an increased desire for control over how parents feed their children.

How can we enable parents to achieve greater control over how they feed their baby?

E-Commerce

Successful e-commerce models capitalize on product differentiation and custom purchasing options.

How can we visually differentiate our product from other baby food makers and provide multiple purchasing options for our end-users?

Emotion

Direct involvement with the ingredients and cooking process creates an emotional bond between parent and their child.

How can we simplify the cooking process while increasing the emotional connection?

User Side

Product Side

Our design criteria originated directly from our above insights, imperatives, and the Value Opportunity Canvas. We organized them into Must, Should, and Nice to have to prioritize our criteria. The Should and Nice to Have criteria originated from our user interviews, observations, and surveys.

Impact

We went through several iterations of form, feature sets, and design and created Nomi. Nomi is a baby food maker that strives to give busy parents the choice of making their child’s food, giving them control over the process and the ingredients that lead to their child’s nutrition. Nomi achieves this by providing parents with the proper tools, connections, and information.  

Find the Industrial Design side of the project here!

Distinguished Form

Form Communicates Function

Custom Purchasing Options

How does E-Commerce drive product design? Through our research we discovered when it comes to E-commerce, first impressions matter the most.

 

Our product design was driven by having a distinguished form for product differentiation, having a clear communicative form-function relationship, and enabling custom purchasing options for a variety of users. By providing a unique form among competing products, we have provided a visual pull for customer’s curiosity. Our colors are bright, but clean and appealing. The title for the product immediately communicates its ease of use and it’s function. Without a well established brand name, we focused on a visual selling strategy.

The design criteria we identified earlier included a larger vision that extends beyond just a physical product design. We found a heavy reliance on internet communities and values in the purchasing decisions. We believed we could create a website for our product that would hit those higher level design criteria, connect users with their community, inform users with recipes, and encourage sustainability in the product/process.

Providing Resources

Providing Connections

Enabling Choice

Communicating We Understand

"Bo" Nomi Mascot 

Offers Recipes for learning parents

Simple Stage 1/2/3 Options

Form Icons to Communicate Steps

Help Find Local Ingredients

Connects to Parenting Blogs

Provides Purchasing Options

Price Comparisons

Brief Product Descriptions

Communicate Product Function

Communicate Brand Offerings

Sustainable Option for End Life

Reinforced Quality of Design

Provides $$ Saving Option

for End of Use

Testing

We prototyped a full 1:1 scale physical model of our design to conduct usability testing with several participants and received positive feedback.

 "It's cute enough to leave out on the counter." 

"I love that it's big enough to make large batches." 

"It looks like it's made just for baby food with the two steps connected."

"I love the simplicity of just three buttons." 

Our initial research showed that people made their decisions based off of the physical appearance of the product, brand name/recognition, product reviews/ratings, and sponsored/promoted items. We created the same survey setup and sent our Amazon and Walmart search mock-ups but with Nomi in the lineup. We asked people who have never seen Nomi to select three products and provide why they made their decision for each of their choices.

Of our 42 Participants:

44% placed Nomi in their top 3 clicks

67% of those chose our design because the product looked interesting

“Looks interesting, would want to know what features it has...”

“...looks easy to use...”

“It's interesting looking so there has to be some reason for it to look the way it does...”

“Orange color caught my eye”

“The colors are pleasing.”

A big thanks to my project team!

Thank You!

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