chado tea

From Architecture to Information Architecture

my role: UX/UI researcher and designer

team: a solo mission

duration: 2 weeks

The tea drinking experience has cultural and social associations. There has developed a variety of ways to experience the process, but regardless of culture, the drinking experience itself remains an integral part of tea’s appeal to its drinkers. 

so where does chado fit in?

Chado Tea provides high tea experiences across Los Angeles with a vast selection of over 300 teas. They additionally have an online store which struggles, due to its questionable navigation and cursory product details. My prompt for this project was to redesign their website with the hopeful outcome of improving their conversion rate. 

an opportunity for design...

As my research discovered the experience of both drinking and purchasing tea to be such an important part of its appeal, I decided to take an architectural mindset to the design process and based the new user flow of the site off of the currently successful spatial flow of Chado’s physical store.  

to uncover this design opportunity, I went through an extensive discovery process utilizing multiple research methodologies

spatial analysis

A discussion with the store manager and observation of people’s interactions within the store’s physical space was integral in understanding the experience of drinking tea at Chado in addition to understanding the stakeholder’s aims and needs. 

I followed this process with interviews + analysis of visitor reviews + task analysis 

 so... 

what do chado's users need? 

why is chado falling short? 

Clear assistance and direction in the selection process. Recommendations by merchants and others are a valued aspect of the purchasing process. 

A browsing experience that conveys the same comfort, relaxation and 

disconnection from everyday life as an ideal tea drinking experience. 

A purchase process that enables them to understand the sensory qualities of tea and be confident in their purchase.

My insights from user and stakeholder research directly contradicted with my insights from the task analysis of the existing website. 

There was a major navigational issue with Chado, product details were not thorough and accurate and as a result, customers often ended up significantly reducing their order or abandoning it.

how can chado’s website be elevated to 

go above + beyond user’s expectations? 

reorganize the primary 

and secondary navigation

ensure that product 

details are thorough

create a browsing 

experience as engaging and relaxing as the experience in person

+

+

it's time to get designing

As navigation was a pain point, the user flow was altered. The new user flow was informed both my research and the successful spatial flow of Chado’s physical store. 

The site map was also drastically changed to create a cleaner browsing experience. 

before

after

look how it turned out!

Home page displays light, relaxing imagery with clear recommendations for easy browsing. Primary navigation was consolidated.  

The product listing page contains flavor notes for individual teas to help understand lesser known types. The clear filtering system sorts and categorizes the wide variety of teas. 

Products have clear descriptions and relaxing imagery. Further detail can be found in drop down menus with icons. 

Tea comparisons based on taste, feeling and brewing style create a more personal experience closer to the recommendations one might get shopping in store.  

Final Thoughts

Being fairly invested in designing an experience and having this reflect the architectural process, I was almost disappointed by the resulting user flow. I had expected it to be something stranger, more unique, but the flow was fairly simple and direct. This was partially due to my commitment to keeping the layout of the existing website in my redesign. 

On reflection, I realized that the simple flow was not something to admonish but in fact something I probably should have been trying to achieve. Ultimately, I view the spatial analysis and its incorporation more as a technique to shift my thinking and a lesson in how looking to other successful mediums can be a way to elevate your design. 

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