Talking Hidden Surprises for a Joyful Ecommerce User Experience with ‘Made of Sundays’

Even the briefest of scrolls through the ‘Made of Sundays’ online store is enough to be taken in by its strong sense of identity and playful design. The humorous nature of the smallest of details in every nook of the site reflects the fun, uplifting character of the decorative home decal products that they sell.

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To delve into the specifics of the design of the website, we talked to co-founder and UX designer, Thomas Leppä. He was kind enough to go into some depth about how things such as colour trends, navigation, and even hidden sloths can be important factors in communicating with, and positively affecting the experience of the user.

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Please tell us about ‘Made of Sundays’ and the kind of products you have on offer.

Made of Sundays is a small Finnish-Spanish family-owned business specialising in wall, door and laptop decals and other selected interior decoration products. Our slogan is “Make your world happy” and that pretty much sums up both our general style of products and identity. We are working out of a cozy small studio located in Helsinki, Finland, where we both design and make our products.

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How did you become involved in the company and what’s your current role?

We started the company together with my wife three years ago, and I have been acting as both a hands-on designer and advisor since the beginning. Building on my 10+ years of experience as a freelance web and UX designer I take care of most things related to branding, designing and developing our online store, designing packaging, social media, marketing and so forth.

Alba (my wife) and Gemma (her sister) handle the actual day to day operations of the store, while I still mostly work with this on the weekends and evenings (long days, but totally worth it). I still spend most of my time with my own clients through our design studio Sundays . My long-term goal, however, is to find a good 50/50 balance in between my client work and Made of Sundays as I also find it extremely satisfying and fulfilling to work together with my wife on something that is 100% our own.

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What kind of customer would you say ‘Made of Sundays’ appeals to?

We do try our best to appeal to people that are generally like minded to us. Defining characteristics would be definitely not taking things too seriously, enjoying the slightly chaotic and colourful as well as appreciating things that are made by humans who really care.

That said, we usually do feel more relevant for women than men, and our average customer tends to be on either side of her 30s with one or more kids at home. And of course we realise that many of our products (like our big super cute and generally just awesome door animal decals) are not for every one, so there is no point in even trying to please the whole world.

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What design decisions were based on your target audience while building your website?

Referring back to the last question with us very much being like our target audience, we were quite confident that if we could only design and make an online store that we ourselves would love to use, then our customers would be happy with it as well. And our experiences so far seem to confirm this, as many of our customers really like to comment on how happy the whole experience has made them (which makes us really happy too).

Some of the things we like to see when shopping online are a clear and uncluttered UI, well displayed images, non-generic copy that seems to be written specifically for us as well as some smaller surprises along the way (to show us that someone really thought this thing through). Most of all just we want to get positive vibes from the experience as a whole.

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The ‘Made of Sundays’ website immediately feels fresh and modern. How do you think you achieved that?

The use of color definitely plays a very strong part in how the site looks and feels. Color and typography both have a big role on the site while also being the two things that most tend to change with the trends. I think that any store that decides not to go with a classic black and white theme have to pay close attention to the current colour trends if they want to maintain a fresh look (unless you are looking for that vintage experience).

Product photos obviously also play a very big part in how everything comes together, and every e-commerce store out there knows that that’s a never ending hassle to get right. Videos and gifs help bringing the site to life, and making more of both is also definitely on our to-do-list. We like to use subtle animations (mostly fading things in) to make the front-end seem modern and to give the user a smooth shopping experience. But be careful, because too much or too strong effects quickly becomes both annoying and off-putting.

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What particular considerations did you make to the way in which users would navigate through the site?

Well the navigation is pretty straight-forward. We wanted to separate the language and currency navigation, as well as keep some links always visible up in the smaller menu while having the product and main links as a fixed navigation with drop-downs.

That way it is easy to jump in between categories while browsing products without having to scroll back up in-between. We feel it’s important to keep the main menu as clear and clutter-free as possible. Improving the product navigation is on our to-do list, as it will become an issue as we go on adding more products to the site. It is natural that the need for filtering and more specific linkage grows with the amount products displayed. Search based browsing is also always on our mind, even though our current solution is a pretty basic one.

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I noticed a really fun, little detail in which the empty cart icon has a ‘sad face’, which turns into a ‘happy face’ once you add an item. Are there any other little details like that and what effect on the user experience where you trying to achieve?

That’s actually the only one I can think of at the moment (oh, besides the hidden sloth in the FAQ section). There is plenty of similar stuff that we have been thinking and talking about implementing, but sadly we have not had the time yet to do so (they will come, though).

We feel that the small details play a big part in the overall experience, and we really like to surprise people (in a positive way) when they interact with our site. A lot of attention has been given to the copy of notifications and confirmation emails, as well as with the hand written notes that we ship together with the products.

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Please describe the ‘Wall of Fame’ section of the site and tell us about your reasons for including it.

The ‘Wall of Fame’ gives us the opportunity to show our products being used by real people in real homes. We want the people buying our products to have a 100% accurate view on how the actual final result is going to look, and using photos sent by our customers is a great way to do just that.

It’s also a channel through which we can reward our customers who tag us with their awesome photos (we choose one photo every month that gets a gift voucher to our store). It is our way to show the people that hey, our products are actually out there and they really look just like they do in our own images.

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If you were to build a brand new online store from scratch tomorrow, what might you do differently with your experiences working with this website?

Good question, but actually not that many things (unless I would have an unlimited budget and all the time in the world, of course). Truth is that the site you see now is not really the same site that was published one year ago (back when we changed to Shopify). Not a week goes by that we don’t go in and tweak some minor detail in the site. Just last week we changed the way our product variants work (from drop downs to swatches and radio buttons) as well as updated our shipment tracking app.

Now we are monitoring how it affects things, and if our customers dislike the changes, well, then we just change it back. The benefit of being a designer and developer is that I can test out things on the fly (and then change them back if they did not work out), something that I never neither would nor could do with my own clients.

We like to publish things fast and then improve on them later, so I would say that a good piece of advice is to keep the general structure clear and simple, so that tweaking and developing it further is as easy and fast as possible.

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What do ‘Made of Sundays’ have planned for the upcoming years?

We’ll see. Currently, we are working hard on maintaining a steady and organic growth by focusing on basic things like marketing and expanding our product range. We also want to offer our customers some new and cool ways to customise our products online, so that’s something we are working on at the moment.

Oh, and obviously we also are going to conquer the world, but then I guess that that goes without saying.

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Philip Dennis

Philip is a freelance illustrator and writer, interested in all aspects of art and design. He is also a passionate educator, having taught English in Japan for several years and now running art workshops in schools in south London, and in collaboration with his local council. When he’s not exploring the visual arts, he likes to immerse himself in music, both as dedicated fan and a performer.

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