Prose & Poetry

Recreating the in store experience of an independent bookstore for their website.



In order to create an informed design strategy I wanted to use a variety of research methods to understand the following key points:

  • What are the key obstacles for independent bookshops online?
  • What is the unique value proposition of an independent bookshop?

I hoped that by answering these 2 questions, I would develop an understanding of what could boost Prose & Poetry’s sales online.

Screener Survey

As this was a concept project I did not have access to an existing user base that I could interview, so in order to gain relevant insights during the User Interviews I drafted and circulated a screener survey that sought people who regularly buy books online.

User Research

I conducted 5 user interviews to help me understand my target users goals, perceptions and experiences with e-commerce and more specifically book buying. The main insights from interviewing 5 book-buyers were as follows:

  • 100% of people surveyed identified Amazon as where they shop online for books
  • People find Amazon’s service too convenient to ignore, but most would rather support independent bookstores
  • People love the atmosphere and curation of independent bookshops
  • People like to browse independent bookshops in person for ideas, but use Amazon when they have a specific book in mind
  • People read books as a form of escapism

Competitor Analysis

I carried out competitor research on a range of bookshops to see how their existing sites approached their online business. I looked at:

  • My local bookstore Rye Books
  • National bookstores Waterstones and Foyles Bookshop
  • International bookstore Amazon

A task analysis confirmed the insights from my user research by showing that Amazon’s “one click checkout” system is much faster and easier than their competitors. However I did note that the local bookshop had the second quickest checkout because they supported the use of both Apple Pay and Shopify. 

A feature analysis highlighted that all online book stores use similar methods to structure and curate their inventory. They use filters and global navigation bars to allow the users to explore genres, and curate their content based on categories such as “Best Sellers”, “Related Products”, “New Releases” and “Critic Suggestions”. These features struck as functional but also impersonal, I felt there could be an opportunity for an independent bookshop to offer a more personal and unique online shopping experience.

Comparitor Analysis

I wanted to see what possible alternative solutions existed for providing users with curated content from a large inventory in other industry sectors. A key theme in my user research identified books as a form of escapism and entertainment, and so I considered how services like Netflix and Spotify suggest content to their users.

  • Spotify used a “radio” feature which creates playlists for their users based on their current activity.
  • Netflix uses targeted carousels, imagery and short videos to advertise films to their users. 



Following a user-centric approach, I created the persona "Georgia," embodying the wants and frustrations identified in my user research.

Problem Statement and How Might We?

With these insights laid out, I distilled the core issue into a problem statement:

“Georgia needs a better browsing and checkout experience for books online, so that she can enjoy shopping with her local bookstore without sacrificing convenience.”

This statement served as a springboard for my brainstorming, prompting a shift from "what" (the problem) to "why" (Georgia's needs) and "how" (potential solutions). I crafted a series of "How Might We" questions to explore innovative approaches addressing her specific needs and pain points.

How might we...

  • ... help Georgia find new books to read?
  • ... help Georgia find convenient delivery options?
  • ... replicate the in-store experience online?
  • ... make Georgia feel excited about browsing for new books online?

Card Sort

To understand how people categorise books and inform the creation of a sitemap I carried out a card sort. This helped me understand and build genre categories that worked for the majority of users, ensuring users of my site would find navigation intuitive.

User Flow

Now I had an idea of the navigation on the site, I created a user flow to help present an overall picture of the site and create a more seamless user experience for Georgia. The brief necessitated a smooth checkout process so I created a flow that demonstrated the user using ApplePay.



Following my user research I had clearly defined the key obstacle for independent bookshops online - that the convenience of Amazon supersedes most and/or all other features; and the unique value proposition of independent bookshops - both a cosy atmosphere and a uniquely curated experience.

I knew an independent bookshop is never going to compete logistically with a company the size of Amazon, and so my design strategy focused on providing an alternative browsing experience that would excite and inspire the user to use the independent bookstore over Amazon. At the same time, I knew that I needed to deliver as efficient a checkout process as possible as it was both mandated by the brief and expressed as a user need in my research. 

User Testing

Having built a working prototype in mid-fidelity I carried out user testing with 5 participants to ensure they could navigate the site. I asked the users to navigate the site and purchase a specific book. This test returned a 100% success rate - with a 0.8 average misclick rate - for navigating the site and purchasing a specific title.

I also asked participants to describe their experience with the prototype, which provided some more constructive criticism, such as:

  • Users said the checkout process is simple and effective.
  • Users were confused by the lack of interaction with features on the home page.
  • Users wanted more information on the product page.
  • Users felt the cards for products were too busy.

I took this feedback and was able to iterate in response as I moved into high fidelity.

Style Guide - Colour & Typography

I wanted to use a colour scheme and visual style which connected the user to the cosy atmosphere they enjoy in the physical store. The idea of this would be that it places them in the same mindset they experience when shopping in person.


How I Met the Brief

My prototype offers a smooth checkout process with a simple design reflecting Prose & Poetry’s small shop appeal and ‘less is more’ curated book selection.

This allows users to shop and checkout efficiently and gives her the option to explore personalised options and contact the shop to choose a book.

Home Page

Includes a hero section to promote new books, personalised recommendations, global and seconday navigation.

Genre Page

Uses carousels and product cards to curate and present a large inventory of products.

Product Page

Offers recommendations based on current selection, opportunity to share through social media, and choices of cover/edition.

Checkout Process

Auto-fills from previous activity, and offeres ApplePay/Shopify for express checkout options.


Overview of the final product.

Next Steps

  • I would like to work on bringing more community and small shop elements into the design. I don’t feel the style guide (colours & type) accurately captures the local bookshop feel.
  • Work on the browsing experience, design system and polish the overall look of the site.
  • More testing and more iterations!


  • I was thinking too much about the wants of the bookshop provided in the brief. This skewed my research plan as the goals were not well focused to find out the problems of the user.
  • Wanted to identify people who use independent bookshops already for their insight on why they like them.
  • I really enjoyed the UX process. I found it very satisfying to implement all of the insights gained from the research, and loved going into detail on a whole new industry.

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