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breaking the code on how to shop for kids

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UX/UI Designer

Collaborators: Classmates


Sketch, Overflow


Research, wireframing, prototyping


October - November 2019

Back to work

The problem

I suspect that people have difficulty purchasing gifts for the children of family

and friends. They don't know the child's current interests, the parents parenting philosophy, and are unsure of what an appropriate gift would be.

Key findings


  • Parents don't know how to express their wants and needs for themselves and their children to others.

  • Friends often feel stressed not having a full understanding of the needs of both the child and parent.


  • Parents don’t always have free time to create a registry. They are often juggling a career, more than one child, and multiple tasks and events on a daily basis.


  • Parents have expressed frustration when those without children don’t understand their time constraints. Parents feel guilty if they cant respond to texts from others immediately, and they often forget to respond at all.


  • Friends mentioned similar feelings concerning time. They want to ask for advice on the child’s wants and needs, but they don't want to bombard the parents with texts. 


  • Parents and friends mentioned that they prefer to shop at local children stores over shopping on Amazon.


  • Parents and friends want to find products that are unique, local, and would rather see items in person to get a feel of the products value.


  • While shopping, friends would go to stores, find an item, and use amazon to search for reviews. They would then still make the actual purchase in the local stores. 

Learn through play

  • Parents want their children to spend time playing with items that are fun yet educational.

  • A majority of my user interviews with parents mentioned museum and zoo passes as options for their children as a safe alternative to roaming outside. Friends were not aware that this was an option.

  • Friends want to purchase items that prioritize education and the development of new skills. 

  • Both users want to Increase the amount of time children spend outdoors and away from screens. 

The story

Celebrating a milestone of a special kid in your life is a wonderful experience,

filled with excitement, games, and love. But for a busy parent, planning an 

event is a lot of work, and creating a registry might not always be high on the 

to-do list. Without a list, your loved ones are left with a big question...or questions..


  • What should I buy for the kid?

  • What do they like?

  • What will the parents approve of?

  • What’s their favorite color? Animal? Sport? 


Leading to frustration and stress for the invitees and a pile of unwanted

gifts for the kids and their parents.

Sandbox is a website that gives parents the tools to create, organize events for 

their children with ease, while additionally empowering invitees in the gift

purchasing process.

How might we

  • How might we help friends shop for the special kids in their lives.

  • How might we eliminate the stress that comes with shopping for kids.

  • How might we bridge the gap in communication between both parents and friends, so that both benefit while celebrating a special kid?

How can we improve everyones experience..

Pivot #1

Switching the primary and secondary users

Original Assumption:

Primary User (Admin) - Family and Friends

Secondary User - Parents


Primary User (Admin) - Parents

Secondary User - Family and Friends

After the initial 1:1 user interviews, I noticed a clear switch in who the primary and 

secondary user was. Though friends and family would benefit from having a clear understanding of the child’s needs and wants, it’s really all about the parents and their kids.


  • What products do parents approve of?

  • Do the parents have room for big gift items?

  • What do they need?

  • What do they have too much of?

Personas of Sandbox


How do I create a service that allows both users to effectively communicate with each other?


Creating personas allowed me to focus on a group of individuals and begin a dialogue.

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Primary User

Parent (Admin)

Secondary User


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 Features to note

  • In browser button 

  • Searchable URL

  • Gifting experiences 

  • Personalized notes

  • Personalized events

  • Reviews of products

  • Commenting feature

  • Articles and guides

  • Event/Registry Organization

Things to avoid

  • Busy interfaces

  • Too many features

  • Competing with sites like facebook with too many social features that would be redundant


  • Clean and intuitive interface

  • Easy navigation

  • Clear communication between users

  • An easy shopping experience

  • Time saved for both users

Drafting ideas

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  • Parents often created the invite list before creating a registry. When asked why, they commented that they might not have time to create one right away, but wished they did.


  • Within the registry side bar, Parents clicked in the below order, signifying a need for the side bar order to be re-organized.


1. Shop

2. Gifted

3. URL

4. Back to shop 


  • Both Users never clicked the features that mirrored sites like facebook i.e. groups, messaging, friends, add friends as well as articles.

Pain points

  • Both users expressed that they found the premise of the app to be useful, but they didn’t know if they would download Sandbox as an app.

  • Both users felt frustration with the calendar set up. 


  • Both users felt that they wouldn't utilize the home feed. the features within the home page did not feel necessary.

Pivot #2

Deciding on a new direction

Native app


I came to the conclusion that Sandbox would be more useful

and successful as a website. The decision was made after I conducted user testing using the above paper prototypes. Both users are confident that they wouldn't take up space on their phone by downloading the app, but would make use of Sandbox as a website.

Challenge: How do I create a website interface that is aligned with both users needs, while still focusing on the main goal: Purchasing the perfect gift.

Features to include

To determine the MVP I had recruits that fit both personas vote using the dot map method (features were listed as is below). As a next step, I created a Now, next and later chart to further assign importance to each feature.

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User Flows

Considering user insights from 1:1 interviews, I drew up multiple iterations of possible user flows.

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Site map

Using an open card sort, I had recruits organize the words on the cards into groups. From the groups created, I was able to create a site structure before sketching out designs.

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Lo-Fi - Selected screens

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  • Price comparisons - Both users appreciated having an opportunity to support local businesses.


  • Friend Picks - Parents loved the concept of reducing emails from friends to discuss gifts. The ability to personalize notifications reduced stress. 


  • In-browser button - Both users want the in-browser button to be easily added and removed.

  • Returns -  What is the process? Are both users notified?

  • Insight Market place - Users were unsure if they would use this feature. How necessary is the market place?

Hi-Fi - Primary user

Version 1 -  Main screens (Parents)

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Onboarding - Icon guided site introduction.

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Profile - A profile is automatically set up for parents. Here they can add a new event or registry, as well as view past events and registries.


Event setup - Parents create a descriptive event with kid info, needs, and more.

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Invite list - Parents invite friends through email or other contact preferences. 

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Registry - Parents add products using the in-browser button or with a product URL.

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Friend Picks - Parents accept, decline or comment on the products friends have suggested. 

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Gifted Items - Parents can view items gifted by friends and can send a virtual thank you note.

Hi-Fi - Secondary user

Version 1 - Main screens (Friends)

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Intro to site - Friends can use the link in the email or go to the site to search for the event.

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Find Event - Friends can enter the name of the event to search.

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Event page - Friends can view the invite and get insight on the kid they are shopping for.

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Registry - Friends can view the registry by clicking the URL in the event page.


Friend Picks - Friends can add products to the registry, and will receive feedback from the parents before making a purchase.


Purchasing - Friends can decide if they want to support a small local business or buy from a larger online supplier.


Support local shops while shopping the registry


Friends can 



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For the Sandbox onboarding, I wanted to focus on clear

and recognizable icons.


I didn’t want the user to feel like they had to re-learn what certain symbols meant. I wanted the user to feel like the site was easy to manage and fun to use.

Next steps

Success metrics

  • Engagement - Both users felt more comfortable interacting with each other surrounding an event.

  • Task time - Once Sandbox was re-designed into a website with edited features, users were able to complete each task more efficiently.

  • Effective - Both users benefited from sandbox. In theory, time was saved and the needs of both users was met.

Next steps

  • Integrate local shops with an online presence.

  • Test the in-browser button to ensure the feature is intuitive and seamless.​

  • A/B test versions with and without the in-store market place to confirm the value of the feature.

  • Test the product returns.


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