Since I have a background in Anthropology, I started with my favorite part - Ethnographic Research, and drove down to the Amoeba in Hollywood for the afternoon. I watched people come into the store by themselves or groups of two. Occasionally people went right to the section of the store where they could find an album they came in for, but most others would start in one section (typically vinyl) and methodically work their way from A to Z pulling out records, checking the price, and pulling out records to purchase later.
One of the more interesting observations was that the pairs of people who came in to shop together - would actually shop ("hunt") independently, and after some time come back together and compare their finds.
After leaving the store I took a look at the Amoeba website - in many ways it matched the in store experience perfectly, but that's not necessarily a good thing. If I were advising Amoeba, I would remind them that an e-commerce site should not just be fore their existing and loyal customers, but for everyone else that may not live in Los Angeles or San Francisco that wants to purchase from their brand. By simplifying their e-commerce experience they can expand on their customer base without alienating their current customers.
I interviewed all types of music lovers, people that had been to Amoeba stores, passive listeners, and vinyl hunters. My biggest insight was that people love the way music makes them feel, and they love when they get specific recommendations that feels personal to them.
I like when I can get recommendations based on what I like without spending too much time
I just like the entire experience of listening to an album
I'm looking for a deep dive into really fundamentally understanding the genres and people in it
What Amoeba does really well: curate unique artists, has offbeat and super specific genre's, expert recommendations, live music experiences, quirky logo and brand identity
What Amoeba doesn't do well: landing on the homepage and walking through the front door feel the same; overwhelming, cluttered and busy. How do you know where to go or where to look first? You don't, and you'd need an entire afternoon to figure it out on your own.
I started mapping the current state of Amoeba's site, which highlighted how many redundancies and messy the state of their site is. This made it easier to look at which sections needed the most organization.
I went back to my users to test out card sorting, and overwhelmingly the feedback was that the current "What's in my Bag?"section was confusing. In store it's a fun feature about musicians and what they buy when they shop at Amoeba, but in the e-commerce environment it translates to a shopping cart.
I created this project in medium fidelity, below you'll see the original site on the left - and my solution on the right.
As my first UX project, I found that I really liked researching and interviewing users. The areas that my research really shined through showed most in the design because my users implicitly or explicitly told me what they wanted. I'll continue to use this strategy going forward in other projects.
Going forward, I would continue to iterate on this and make a hi-fidelity prototype to test. I would also create a mobile app, overwhelmingly users told me and research supports it that more and more shopping is going mobile first. I would include typical shopping features, audio features (streaming "what's in my bag?" albums and songs) - but most importantly I would make the Amoeba App an in store shopping companion with features like rarity of find (for those vinyl heads), preview listening to albums, and real time recommendations based on albums you'd be scanning/browsing in store. It's important for stores that have brick and morter locations to embrace e-commerce by complimenting what makes their stores unique.