Elliott Bay Book Company

Elliott Bay Book Company

A redesign of a bookstore’s website to improve the engagement of loyal readers

UX Design


Elliott Bay Book Company is a Seattle institution.  But in an era of cheap and ubiquitous online purchases, independent brick-and-mortar bookstores are struggling to stay in business. 

Locals want to support them, but purchasing books from the site is ambiguous, cumbersome, and requires patience.


UX Research
UX Design


UX Design
UI Design 

Project Goals


Galvanize Elliott Bay Book Company as a Seattle institution


Market and sell books to a loyal customer base


Establish credibility and trust with a seamless and secure online checkout process

Establish trust and credibility with a seamless online checkout process


Promote visits to the store with in-store author events and by featuring the cafe


Design an easy-to-update ecommerce website

Elliott Bay Competitor Analysis
Browse Books Flow
Purchase Online Flow
Proposed Site Map Version 1
Final Iteration Elliott Bay Architecture

E-commerce sites must have familiarity and credibility that users currently expect.  A smooth transaction and browsing experience are essential.

Brick and mortar browsing may not be a commonplace occurrence of cities of the future, but communities will always be a part of the human condition.  Elliott Bay has the cache of being a decades-long meeting place and gathering spot.  Perhaps we can highlight ways for book sales to be tertiary to the experience.

Encouraging in-store loitering, and giving equal weight to promoting events and sales, helps to instill trust in the user that the store is invested in the community. 

Research Methods


Market research


Customer interviews


Information Architecture


Store Visits




Prototype testing

Wireframe Iteration 2
Wireframe Iteration
Research Solutions
Usability Testing

We conducted a heuristic analysis of the existing website and over 100 global independent bookstores' websites that currently maintain success in digital commerce. 

Because the store was local, we also visited the site and reached out to 12 book store shoppers to gain insights on their needs, motivations, and frustrations.

This helped shape the new website solution.  

Core Customer Needs

Finding what's right for me

Personalization is an important feature as customers still need to feel like they belong and can find what they’re after with ease.
We had customers conduct a card sorting exercise to help us understand what is important to them in the online experience.

Product is key

Whether exploring new products or looking for something specific, product browsing is the key goal of any shopping experience, and as such, it must be thoughtful and intuitive to use.

Give me the details

The Product Details Page should not only describe the product but also focus on the rich stories and ideas of the book, as well as allow users to save to a wishlist, read reviews, and effortlessly purchase the item.

I need assistance

With only one store in Seattle, it should be feasible to make it easy for users to find and access in-store availability on online.

Following our customer interviews, we synthesized our findings and were able to create a persona.  She is educated, younger, tech-savvy, valuing quality products, brand experiences, and time-saving interactions.

After conducting a competitive analysis, we found that to differentiate itself from other eCommerce options, Elliott Bay's online experience would highlight the brick-and-mortar store as a community hangout, with a cafe, a gathering space, and a variety of author events.

These insights formed a great foundation to move into feature ideation and prioritization.

UI Refresh


We set up a lo-fi clickable prototype using Invision to help aid the customer conversations and provide usability insights.  We had eight on-site participants try to complete specified tasks and took note of any perceived bottlenecks.   


Browsing Products

Product discovery was an essential part of a user's initial and ongoing site experience; the ability to select a category and filter by genre or sub-genre, publishing format, price, and reviews.

Single Book Details

Once a product is selected, a description, price, reviews, and in-store availability of a book are displayed, as well as a potential upcoming related author event.


Author Talks

Establishing the store as a community hub required a feature for users to filter by how far out the event will take place, author, or genre.

Visiting the Store

Information regarding visiting the brick-and-mortar store is readily available in the universal footer, in case the user needs to pick up a book right away.


Increased Sales

After visiting events and browsing the aisles more often than before, users gradually feel like part of a community. 

They become loyal customers, purchasing books from Elliott Bay Book Company, despite the higher prices.  Online purchases are maximized by using previously collected data to offer recommendations.

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