chado tea

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From Architecture to Information Architecture

my role: UX researcher + designer

team: a solo mission

duration: 2 weeks

The tea drinking experience has cultural and social associations. There have 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 confusing 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 revealed that the experiences of drinking and purchasing tea were important parts of its appeal, I decided to take an architectural mindset to the design process and based the new user flow of the website off of the currently successful spatial flow of Chado’s physical store.  

to uncover this design opportunity, I went through an extensive discovery process using multiple research methods

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spatial analysis

Observations of people’s interactions within the store’s physical space were integral in understanding the experience of drinking tea at Chado while a discussion with the store owner helped in understanding the stakeholder’s 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 

grounding as the 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 my insights from the task analysis of the existing website. 

There were major navigational issues, product details were not thorough or accurate, and as a result, customers often significantly reduced their order or abandoned it.

how can chado’s website be elevated to 

go above + beyond users' expectations? 

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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

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The design process

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

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

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New Site Map.jpg

before

after

the end result 

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 in understanding the 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 of 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. I now see the incorporation of the spatial analysis 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.