UX Case Study

The Pottery Shed

Helping customers make bookings and progress through the steps of ceramic pottery-making
Project Overview
  • Design a mobile app
  • Engage new and existing customers
  • Determine if a mobile app is the most effective solution
Meet the team​​
Our Process
Our team worked collaboratively for the entire project, while:
  • I took the lead for survey questions and research synthesis
  • William took the lead for design
  • Ann took the lead for client and project management
We investigated whether the project brief would satisfy The Pottery Shed's business goals and customer needs. Research data was analysed to determine an ideal design.
2 Weeks in Sep 2017
Affinity Mapping
Usability Testing
Google Forms
The Pottery Shed is a ceramics studio that runs classes for new customers and sessions for experienced customers to work on their own projects
To have an unbiased experience of the customer journey, our team attended a beginners lesson before interviewing the client. From interviews and surveys, the areas affecting customer satisfaction were the booking system, vouchers and project tracking


Success means converting new customers into long-term customers. Only 1% of customers make pottery a long-term commitment



A mobile website design was needed. 92% of 167 users preferred using a smartphone or tablet device which the current website is not optimised for



An interactive prototype was designed, tested and reiterated. User testing feedback indicated education and terminology needed to be refined

Discovery Phase
Initial brainstorm
Our team started the project with a brainstorming activity and conducted desktop research to understand who The Pottery Shed are.
We found several areas of interest that needed investigating. This helped inform our interview and survey questions.
Online presence
To understand how users interact with The Pottery Shed, we conducted an online search and discovered the following:
Click image to view brainstorm
  • Website for online booking and payment
  • Non-responsive mobile website
  • Facebook page with active posts
  • 4.5/5 rating from 24 google reviews
Guerilla testing the current website
To get an idea of how well the current website performed, we tested with 5 new users on both the mobile and desktop site.
The main findings were:
  • Text is too small on both mobile and desktop
  • No information on classes
  • Difficulty finding available times
  • Too much scrolling on booking screen
User Research
Site visit
We attended the first beginners "Throwing" class ourselves to learn of the finer details of the pottery-making experience. After our class, we took the opportunity to interview customers and staff. From the class, we learned of the progressive steps of pottery, the project tracking system and the project storing process.
Pottery is a progressive process
The entire process of completing a piece of pottery is taught in the order of 3 separate classes: Throwing, Trimming and Glazing. Customers are notified via email when their projects are close to expiring. Any expired greenware is recycled for its clay and expired bisqueware is given to charity.
1. Throwing
- mould wet clay to shape 
- dries to become greenware
- 30 days expiry
2. Trimming
- carve details and texture
- fired to become bisqueware
- 60 days expiry
3. Glazing
- paint and seal with glaze
- fired to become glazeware
- finished product
Understanding the project storing system
iPads are available for signing in and tracking pottery projects. Work in progress is recorded on the iPad tracking system and labelled on the correct shelf location.


iPad Sign In and Project Tracking

iPad Sign In and Project Tracking

Throwing Class

Throwing Class

Greenware Storage

Greenware Storage

Trimmed Greenware

Trimmed Greenware



Kiln and Clay Recycling

Kiln and Clay Recycling

Hover over image to see description
What real users have to say
We talked to 8 users on-site and found the following:
"There is a missing opportunity to handle digitally"
Vouchers are manually kept on file and marked off by the customer by their own honesty
"Let me pay and purchase vouchers anywhere, anytime"
10-Session vouchers can only be purchased in-store and are not advertised on website
"...not been notified by email and my pots were recycled"
Tracking system only accessible on-site and not available via the website
"I have to wait till I get to work to book sessions. That's the only time I'm on a computer. It would be easier if the website were mobile friendly because I have my phone with me all the time"
One customer double-booked as the website is not responsive for mobile and contains small font which is difficult to read
Click image to enlarge
167 survey responses
We conducted a survey on Google Forms to get quantitative data on who our customers were and to validate feedback from our interviews. The survey was facilitated by the owner, Joe via facebook and received 167 responses.
Device usage
Try something new
Currently book on desktop
Prefer to book on mobile device
A mobile website design is needed
New and current users would benefit more from a mobile website than an app because:
  • There is a gap between 92% of respondents wanting to book via mobile device and how they are currently booking

  • the website is the first touch point in a customer’s journey

Client Research
Aligning to business goals
After gaining insight into the customer experience, we wanted a better understanding of business goals. We drew up a business model canvas and interviewed Joe, the owner of The Pottery Shed. 
Some key points from the interview with Joe were:
The art is the goal
  • Teach the art of traditional pottery in a casual manner
Already attracting new customers
  • Classes are usually 80% booked weeks in advance
  • Google brings over 20,000 hits to the website
Success = return customers
  • 20% of customers purchase 10-session vouchers
  • Only 1% of customers make it a long-term commitment
What other pottery studios are doing
To understand how The Pottery Shed differentiates from other studios, we looked at local competitors. We found that bookings are only made via the website which is non-responsive for mobile devices. The Pottery Shed is the only business with a digital project tracking system in place. 
Click image to view business model canvas
Click image to enlarge
Data Synthesis
Affinity map

We created an affinity map to make sense of the feedback we received from surveys and to see if there were any patterns. This validated our interview findings that the major areas affecting customer satisfaction were the booking system, vouchers and project tracking

Personas and user journeys
4 user profiles were created from the results of our survey and interviews. User journey maps helped identify emotions and opportunities in the user flow. The 4th persona is a staff member and is not of focus for this project.
New to Pottery
Miranda Hunt
Primary persona
Learning Pottery
Emilia Wong
Primary persona
Experienced Potter
Bill Haroldson
Primary persona
Click each image above to enlarge
Studio Staff
Haneul Jeong
Secondary persona
(not of focus)
Minimum viable product
The more frequent features from the affinity map were given greater importance to be designed.
  • show availability for class upfront
  • show a logical way of booking date and time
  • include information about each class
  • digitise gift certificates and 10-session vouchers
Project tracking
  • access remotely
Contact details​​​
  • show user which class they should select for their next session when returning
  • allow users to amend their bookings
Waiting list
  • create a waiting list so that customers can be notified of available sessions that people have dropped out from
  • create recurring bookings
Project tracking
  • ability to add photos
  • allow user to share their work 
Design Hypothesis 
Users have difficulty tracking the progressive steps required in pottery making. This is further complicated by the difficulty they have managing their bookings.
Educate customers on the pottery process, and to track their projects, through an efficient bookings and vouchers management system.
Design studio was used to rapidly generate several paper prototype designs. We only designed the "must" features from our minimum viable product in order to focus on a more effective solution. The most effective parts of each design were incorporated into a single wireframe.
The result of our designs was:
  • a clear call-to-action on the landing page to book a class
  • a calendar view for booking
  • a customer login feature for new and existing customers to manage bookings, vouchers and project tracking
Click each image to enlarge
Prototype #1 - low fidelity
Marvel App was used to create an interactive version of the wireframe.
We wanted to examine how the design performed in terms of information architecture and task completion. 3 participants who were not customers of The Pottery Shed were asked to complete the following tasks:
  1. As a new user, select the appropriate class

  2. Book a class

  3. As a return user, purchase 10-session voucher and gift certificate

  4. As a return user, track project progress

Feedback and iteration

Click each image below to enlarge

Click each image to view

User guidance and education

It was unclear to users which of the 3 lessons to choose as a beginner

Users did not understand that the lessons had to be done sequentially


Users could not differentiate between "vouchers" and "gift certificates"

Wording and UI

Lightbox had confusing call-to-actions “add another class” and “continue"

Prototype #2 - mid fidelity
For the second iteration, we illustrated the designs in Sketch App and addressed the issues from previous user tests. Invision App was used to create an interactive prototype.
We asked 3 participants who were not customers of The Pottery Shed to complete the same four tasks.
In particular, we wanted to test whether or not we had resolved the issues from the first prototype. 
Click each image to view
Feedback and iteration

Click each image below to enlarge

Visual cluttering

Users found the bookings page cluttered

Onboarding and information

Users wanted to have the information about the class on the summary page

Logical steps

Users wanted to select the "number of attendees" before "time" and "date"


Users did not connect with the red cross design of the project tracking system as it felt like something was incorrect

The final prototype incorporated all the changes based on usability test feedback. 
Click each image below to view
Final Prototype
  • improve website experience for mobile phones

  • give greater control and convenience for all customers to book, purchase vouchers and track their projects

  • aims to address business goal of converting pottery students into long-term customers

  • final prototype and the survey results delivered to the client


screen flow

"Purchasing voucher" screen flow

"Project tracking"

screen flow

Next steps
  • user test existing customers with the final prototype

  • scale up mobile design to update desktop design

  • design other features that were not prioritised for this design

Key Learnings
Unbiased experience

Taking part in a pottery class before interviewing the client really gave our team an unbiased perspective and eliminated assumptions which could have affected our design process


Design guidelines

Researching design guidelines and conventions helped would have made the user interface design a lot faster


Simplify the complex

Education and terminology is a fundamental part of design and should have been assessed by the team before our user tests


User testing informs design

Testing non-users gave insight into designing for onboarding. We did not get the chance to test current users for their feedback which may provide other insights.



Want to discuss more?

If you have any questions, contact me to discuss more. Cheers!


© 2017 by David Lam


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