Updated mobile app to diversify audience and better serve a younger shopper, increasing loyalty and sales. 



Concept Design Challenge
Mobile iOS App


2 week sprint


Serrah Sawers - Researcher
Sunny Lee - Interaction Designer
Shruti Arora - Information Architect, Visual Designer


Mobile Devices
Google Forms
Pen + Paper


User Interviews
Comparative and Competitive Analysis
User Testing



Our team set out to refine the mobile app for Macy's and increase its strongest, most unique aspects in order to compel younger casual shoppers to increase their loyalty and better their trust of the brand

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Background Research

As researcher, I began my research online seeking out background information on Macy’s and their customers. I collaborated with my team to help scope the project with the info we had gained. 

The most interesting findings were that Macy's was:

Currently Investing Strongly in Tech

Closed 100 stores and put $250 Million into digital business

Seeking to Increase Online Sales

Currently at 15%, business report states goal of 25% 

Women’s Accessories and Apparel

Makes up more than 50% of Total Sales 


Comparative Analysis


After getting that base research, I wanted to see what other competitors were doing so I conducted a Competitive Analysis with 4 comparable online retailers. I extensively used, tested and compared the 4 mobile shopping apps, and I found some compelling features that were missing from and some that were unique to Macy's. 

Key findings from this analysis were:

HIG compliant Tab Bar Navigation

This was only being used by Nordstrom and Target - while Macy's used the Hamburger menu, keeping much of main functionality hidden.

Camera Recognition

A image recognition tool on Macy's mobile app seemed intriguing. It could recognize objects within photos taken or uploaded to increase the ability to search the store's inventory quickly.

Price Drop

This was a feature unique to only Macy's, featuring an Alert feature that allowed users to select to receive an email when the price dropped for an item they had added to their wishlist.


"Not sure yet what direction we should take, my team went on-site to experience the app for ourselves."


Site Visit

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My team took a site visit downtown to check out the Camera Recognition portion of the Macy's app in person, as well as try the In Store feature that many of the apps were offering.

In Store - Thumbs Down

We found that the in store feature didn’t add much value to the shopping experience, it essentially only acted as a digital store directory, allowing user to locate the floor of their preferred shopping category. 

Camera Recognition - Not Necessary

We also found that the Camera Recognition tool was not as consistent or helpful as we would like. Even when taking a photo of a Macy’s products, in a Macy's store to test, the app did not consistently deliver the resulting item in the app's inventory. 


“Macy’s is striving to re-energize its loyal older customers while simultaneously attracting a younger generation of shoppers."


I returned to more research and I learned that Macy’s was using technology and their mobile app to attract a younger generation of shoppers who are increasingly using their phone for their main access to internet and online shopping.

Macy’s more recent focus on technology and online sales was a way to access and attract a younger more tech savvy audience.

Now I knew I wanted to talk to users in this audience.



I created a Screener Survey to be shared across our team's Social Networks. The survey received 16 responses.  

I narrowed the responses down to 5 users to interview, focusing on women in mid 20s to early 30s who online shop on their mobile phone and have shopped at Macy's in the past. 

Screener Survey


User Interviews


I interviewed 5 users by phone and in person to learn about their lifestyle, their shopping habits, needs, preferences and frustrations. Here are a few of my main findings: 

Shopping As Leisure Activity

“I shop in the evenings or on weekends, usually in bed while watching TV.”

Users think shopping can be fun! - they see it as leisure. These users enjoy shopping on their phone, especially when it’s shopping for themselves. Sometimes it’s just browsing and looking but it’s spending time on a retailers site, looking at what’s new and what’s on sale and they do it on their downtime as relaxing

Price Checking and Comparison

“It would be helpful to get notifications when an item goes on sale."

“I don’t care what store my Nike shoes come from, just as long as I get the best price!”

“I often add something I want to my cart and wait to purchase it until the price has gone down.”

Users want the good quality and best price and are willing to work for it. They are willing to spend more than they would in their early 20s but they also don’t want to waste money or not get the best deal. They will also compare different stores and shop outside of their favorites if it is a brand they already trust and the price is right

Brand Loyalty

“I will buy certain items at Macy’s: Nike shoes, Free People jeans, Steve Madden…”

These users have brand loyalty and that comes to stores as well. They purchase mostly home and necessities from Target and Amazon, apparel and personal from Nordstrom, with Macy's being more infrequent - only visiting when certain sales, giftcards, or looking for a particular brand (KitchenAid, Martha Stewart, Nike, Michael Kor, Clinique, etc) or to buy specific types of items - mattress, towels, Nike shoes.

Customer Service 

“I know they (Macy’s) have lots of brands I like but I don’t enjoy going into the store because there aren't many people around to help and it’s not a fancy feel.”

“I’ve went there around the holidays and there was only one or two employees working the entire floor so the lines were very long. Many people chose to just order online.”

These users notice when the customer service isn't what they desire and will choose to shop from companies where they are treated to a higher level of assistance or to stores where there is something surprising and unexpected. 

Free Shipping

“I choose to shop at stores that offer free shipping, if possible. I don’t like that on Macy’s you have to spend at least $99 to get Free Shipping.”

“Even if it ends up requiring a return in store, I’d still prefer to shop online.”

Currently Macy's only offers Free Shipping to its core, high-level purchasers, but this disincentivizes new users from shopping more. 

Lengthy or Hidden Navigation

“The Macy’s App was overwhelming and felt cluttered.”

“I like apps, like Nordstroms where I can see the photos up close and know how to easily navigate.

On a phone, navigation is Key! Since using their mobile device, users need to be able to easily access and a complicated navigation can be frustrating. Because the users care about it feeling fun and are using their mobile as a main device, they will tend towards apps that have larger images and that have an easier and simpler site navigation.


Key Opportunities

  • Simplified Navigation

  • Highlighted Price Check

  • Personalization and Fun  

Working towards these opportunities would affect overall enjoyment for the user and thus increase the user's time and use of the mobile app.


Gathering those findings and more, I used Affinity Mapping to hone in on key characteristics and turn those findings into a Persona. With limited time and smaller user group, only one persona seemed to be arising. 





Usability Testing


As my team created designs, I conducted Usability Tests for their designs, using paper prototypes, wireframes and clickable prototypes.


The designers had taken the research and decided to move forward with updating the navigation to be HIG compliant and to expand the Price Drop Alert feature.

In testing this new version of the app, a few problems arose. 

Navigation Symbols

In my team's work to move from a Hidden (Hamburger) Menu Navigation to a Lower Tab Bar Navigation that was more HIG compliant they used new symbols to communicate particular sections and the symbols were not easily recognizable by users. 

Price Drop Alert Confusion

The team chose to focus:on expanding the Price Drop Alert feature but because it had been hidden before, expanding it and testing it with users led me to learn that users were unfamiliar with the concept and we needed to simplify and explain more fully within the design how to use it. 






I had daily meetings with my team to share with them what I had gained from user interviews, affinity mapping and usability testing. Together we participated in a Design Studio to help refine the lower Navigation and make sure it was understandable and the highest priority actions. 

Visual Design by Shruti Arora

Visual Design by Shruti Arora


Testing with Hi Fi Comps 

Including more photos in the wireframes would truly help to see if users were enjoying and having fun shopping within the app.

Research Price Tracking models

More research to understand the Price Tracking feature with actual items and real shoppers and how the feature is used in other fields like hotels and airlines.

Next Steps


Voice of the User

As researcher, I gained a huge appreciation of the need for this role to speak on behalf of the user. It is important for me to communicate my research findings quickly and clearly in order to set up my team for success. I found my role as researcher to be the voice of the user(s) throughout the design process.

New Features Take Time 

I witnessed that a newer and unfamiliar feature like Price Drop Alert or Price Tracking would take more refinement than something more familiar and traditional like a Tab Bar Navigation. 

What I Learned