Black Ink

User Research, Information Architecture, Sketching, Wireframing, Prototyping
2 week sprint

Design an online shopping experience for a retailer that does not currently have an e-commerce business.

Full of “Unexpected Necessities”

Black Ink is a gift shop that was located in the heart of Harvard Square with an eclectic mix of items. It was recently closed due to the rising rents in Harvard Square. Forcing the small businesses that make Harvard Square unique to close doors or move out.


Randomly selecting 100 items from the store to gather an inventory list and begin sorting what categories will be needed to build an online store. Black Ink has a much larger product inventory, but for the purpose of this sprint the number of items was limited. Conducting 3 open card sorts and 3 closed card sorts provided enough insight to start building categories. 


Research + Design

Throughout the in-field research of the store and products they sell. I was interviewing shopper's who visit gift shops and shop online. This provided the necessary insight to help sketch and build the online store. Using the positive takeaways from both the online experience and the in-store experience. Combining these two without losing the look and feel of an online megastore was the goal.


Site Map



My goal while designing the site was to maintain the look and feel of the shop. Encouraging the "window shopper" to take a look inside. Then while they are inside have several methods of product discovery integrated into the layout. Avoiding too much visual stimulation and feeling forced or like advertisements.


A Store of Discovery

Black Ink is set up to encourage the customer to explore. Visiting as an adult is close to feeling like a kid again. As I sat in the shop and observed how people moved through the store, I realized no one is a rush. there is a pace to how people move around… a flow.

The store is curated into sections that may appear to be randomly organized. There is a combination of clearly defined collections and there is also a mix of items by color, theme, or just complimentary grouped together. Maintaining this element of discovery 


“Oh, That’s a cool item.”


Beyond being able to build our more wireframes. One of the design choices I did not get to explore in usability testing was the Blog function. Currently Black Ink use their own blog and Instagram to share information. I want to maintain their engagement with the blog to inform customers of new products, events, or involvement with the local artist community.

On the Blog, provide a way for user's to learn more about a featured item. By rolling over an in-line hyperlink the item will pop up in the sidebar as a product card. Giving user's a way to jump to Product Pages to learn more about a featured item. This would be a timed display in the sidebar that would only appear for a set duration. Maintaining the clean appearance and not making the blog feel cluttered.

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