After an initial popular media scan on the state of independent bookstores, I visited four stores for research. Three were independent: Elliott Bay Book Company, Twice Sold Tales, and the University Bookstore. The fourth was the newly-opened Amazon Bookstore.
Within the bookstores, I observed customers and employees and interviewed a total of six people, asking about their habits and experiences with reading and visiting bookstores, as well as what they found attractive or unattractive about the bookstore they were currently perusing.
Based off of my research, I developed three personas and mapped out the user journey for one of them.
I then compiled a moodboard and sketched many thumbnail concepts and visual brain dumps to generate the concept for a unique bookstore experience.
The time then came to conceptualize a bookstore experience based off of the needs of the people I interviewed. I settled on the central theme of a "sanctum." Combined with the warmth, comfort, and joy the resident cats seemed to bring to one bookstore I visited, I compiled a brand wheel that acted as the foundation for a unique bookstore experience that uses a conveyor belt system to enhance book discoverability and circulation throughout the store.
After conducting some heuristic analyses on existing bookstore websites, I created a wireframe and prototype of the bookstore's website homepage that reflects the conveyor belt whimsy of this bookstore concept.