A.C. Moore is one of America’s largest Arts & Craft retailers with 140 stores and growing. When they partnered up with Zibbet, it gave me the opportunity to be apart of bring this retail giant into the digital world with their own two sided marketplace.
During the first phase of planning it involved a lot of rough sketches and wireframes, user flows, and prototyping in Invision. Once the skeleton design was in place and signed off, I took a break from the interface design and moved onto art direction. A.C.Moore had many existing branding constraints I had to work through, but I was eager to find solutions to the problems.
First up A.C.Moore’s red branding and logo, visible in their retail chains and online store, it's bold. I immediately knew my goal was to design a new brand that could seamlessly fit within the A.C.Moore ecosystem, and retail branding. This would be a marketplace that helped creative entrepreneurs get their business off the ground, and it need to have its own unique look and feel.
The job for the team and I was to figure out how to entice shoppers into the marketing funnel and motivate them to increase their shopping experience. We had to keep in mind that the marketplace looped customers within a larger sales funnel, inspiring shoppers to buy off A.C.Moore’s online retail shop, or in store's across America. Then, ultimately, sell their handmade products on the marketplace, this creating a robust sales cycle.
“When you buy from a handmade seller an actual person dose a happy dance”
I spent a solid chunk of this project ironing out the kinks and creating an engaging user experience with the team. I wanted the users to feel the crafty vibes once they landed on the marketplace, excited to discover how they could share in this global online community.
Leading the visual design on this project, I empathised with our users and incorporated a feminine feel as 70-80% of our online sellers in the craft community are female the blue tones are intended to add balance and sense of inclusiveness. After creating mood-boards, pallet variations, and researching illustration styles the team and I landed the current branding for A.C.Moore's Marketplace.
After finalising the wireframes and the style guidelines, it was time to move onto UI design. Highlighted above we wanted the icons to be fluid and playful. We also wanted to show off key shots of the marketplace design and how Zibbet could integrate within that eco system empowering the seller to import their products using Zibbet and selling across multiple sales channels. The philosophy we have as a business is empowering creative sellers to make more revenue by gaining exposure across multiple marketplaces ( we call these channels).
There was a-lot to do in terms of working out how a user would navigate this marketplace, We wanted to avoid users bouncing because they could not find what they were after. By organising the categories and looking at data from the Zibbet Marketplace we were able to work out which were the most popular and what ones could slip into sub categories. This would help insure the users could filter out and find what they are looking for more efficiently.
The visual design goal was to create something that looked noticeably different from our Etsy competitor but working with similar flows that our audience is familiar with. The banners are illustrative, with fluid beige straps and the colour pallet is scattered throughout the iconography and illustrative components.
We designed the Marketplace using a mobile first approach that way we could insure our designs would easily adapt across different devices. While designing the page above working out the design hierarchy for the information we were able to decide what information was most important for our buyers and what we could collapse so that the page stayed true to the "clean" approach within the designs branding.
Marketplace's are often noisy and because we cannot ensure that shop owners will import quality or aesthetically pleasing images. With this in mind, I wanted to eliminate the noise on the page as much as possible, focusing on the key elements a shopper needs to make that buying decision as quick and efficient as possible.
I believe that good design is about empathy. When A.C.Moore's users/ sellers are browsing across the marketplace we wanted to insure they felt the mission in what we are trying to uphold -- That they are supporting independent sellers and contributing to a sellers success, this is highlighted in subtle design cues.
Design philosophy is capricious - you can’t predict it. What’s on trend right now might not be relevant a year from now. With that in mind, We made sure the interface design could adapt to new trends. Using a style guide with symbols and patterns in Sketch we are able to change things easily without a-lot friction, working in a lean environment we have to be able to move quickly.
Above is just a highlight of some key elements from the style guidelines for A.C.Moore. The typography is Escrow Banner paired with Source Sans Pro. Escrow Banner Bold works perfectly as a headline font while Source Sans Pro for the body copy as it adds balance and a modern aesthetic to the design this paired with the more traditional feel from the headline font.
The colour pallet was a bold choice. But I feel it captures the handmade community’s vibe and comfortably and immerses users into the marketplace.
I designed the illustration style to be smooth and fluid, without a heavy amount of detail. Finding the perfect balance, I had to problem solve; it took time. The goal was to find a middle ground: the pages had to stand out but not be distracting. My approach was to create harmony throughout the shopping experience, something handcrafted yet contemporary.