Toys et cetera cover photo

Toys Et Cetera was founded in 1976 in Chicago and focused on selling educational, developmentally sound, and culturally sensitive toys.

The project goal is design a website that align business objectives with the user's needs.

My Role

  • Research synthesis
  • Ideation
  • Digital Wireframing
  • Prototyping
  • Usability testing and iteration
  • Project Visuals / Deck planning


  • Sketch
  • Illustrator
  • InVision


  • User flow
  • Presentation
  • Wireframe
  • Prototype

The Approach

Understand the store Value

Toys Et Cetera golden circle

Toys Et Cetera golden circle

Toys Et Cetera, Lincoln Park Location

Toys Et Cetera, Lincoln Park Location

Toys Et Cetera's value is established on helping people raise health and well-being children. In order to practice their value, the store sells toys that have educational value. Their mission statement could be summarized into a golden circle:
Why: Helping people raise well-being kids.
How: Learning through playing.
What: Selling educational toys.

I also conducted an on-site observation to see how they implement their store value. And there are three key elements in the store:

  • Store emphasize physical interactions with samples.
  • Staff Expertise helps customer makings the decision.
  • Carried wide variety and diversity of the toys for all aspects of learning.

Understand the User

Three interviews are performed in order to understand general toy buying behavior. Two of the interviewees are parents and the third interviewee is an uncle who bought toys regularly for his nephew and niece. In general, all of them agree with Toys et cetera’s core concept: they believe the educational value of the toys will help their kid’s development. However, I noticed the parents expressed a very passive attitude for toy buying.

Toys et cetera_Affinity map
Toys et cetera_affinity mapping

Find Alignment

So I did a chart to see if the user needs are fulfilled by what the store provides. Toys et cetera did a great job to serve their customer:

toys et cetera_needs alignment

Yet there is one thing that the store did not address:

Parents don’t like to spend energy and money when buying toys.




I went back and listened to my interview records and found 3 quotes might give me a clue:

“ I don’t expect my girls to last very long interest in the toy ”
- Jon, father of 2 girls
“ She played with it for few days and moved on to another ”
- Cece, mother of a girl
“ She is easily distracted by other stuffs ”
- Cece, mother of a girl

I realized the problem is that parents don’t believe the toy they purchased will hold a long interest of their child and they feel their money is being wasted. Therefore, they don’t value toy as much when their child stops playing with it, even if the parents know the fact that their kid will be benefited from playing toys..

To summarize up my user research, my insights are:

The first two insights could be fulfilled by providing information and engagement. But how should we solve the third problem?


I think the key is to make parents CONFIDENT.

  • Parents need to feel confident that the toy they buy will sustain the interest of their child.
  • Parents need to feel confident that the toy they buy is safe.

Therefore, the solutions should . . .

  • Make it easy for parents to explore multiple ways to play with a toy.
  • Enable simple and easy decision making around toy purchases.
  • Make it easy for parents to evaluate the safety of a toy.


I started by sketching the possible user flow to see where can I reinforce the user experience. There are three key actions when users making buying decisions:

  • Reading product content description: customer read product description to ensure the product they selected is the right one for them. The safety information could be learned here.
  • Reading reviews: customer read reviews to reassure if the product meets its description and see how other people use the product.
  • Comparing products: customer compare similar products to make sure they make the best decision.
toys et cetera_flow

I went online to understand how parents write reviews for toys. I discovered that parents are sharing stories of how their kid play with the toy. And surprisingly, children play their toy differently, even if it is the same toy. If the store can gather this information and share with customers, it will be a strong tool to inform parents that the toy they buy is not for single function only: There are multiple ways to engage with one toy, and your child won’t get bored easily.

THE Design

Solution 1: Reviews

My goal is to organized the review information for easier reading by customers. The review section displays a chart listed the results extracted from written reviews. Customers are able to have a quick glance to understand how other kids play with this particular toy and get inspired by it.

toys et cetera_reviews annotation

Solution 2: Comparison

Similar product comparison will allow users to analyze if the product is the most suited item among the options. Also, providing item options that pair well with the product could open potential ways to play with the toy.

toys et cetera_comparison

Solution 3: Third party authorities endorsements

Safety is one of the most concerned issues among the parents. Introducing third parties authorities’ endorsements could gain trust from parents. The well-known authorities such as Parent’s Magazine has it’s own safety and educational standard when reviewing the toys. And parents will be more confident if the toy earned multiple endorsements.

toys et cetera_endorsements


The home page is designed to communicate the site concept to users. When the customer lands on the home page, the hero image will display the core concept of Toys Et Cetera and follow with two boxes explaining how we address customer’s concerns. Samples of reviews and the third party endorsements are showed below in order to assist customer better understand the site feature when they shop.

toys et cetera_home page


Please click on the screen to play with the prototype in Invision.


Second round interviews

The first round interviews are focusing on general toy buying behavior. To further develop the website, conduct second round interviews focus on online toy purchase behavior is necessary to refine the e-commerce design.

Refine shopping flow

The current shopping flow might not be the most efficient route. Study on e-commerce shopping flow is important to refine user flow to the most efficient route.


In-depth research of how to manage user reviews needs to be done to understand better execution for future review administration.

Reinforce the core value

Improve website content to help user understand the educational value of specific toys.