House of Fraser

Project Overview

A concept project I completed over a two-week sprint while I was on General Assembly's UXDI course. The brief specifies that UK department store House of Fraser has decided to expand its business with an online party planning micro-site, to encourage customers to host themed parties more regularly.

The Problem & The Opportunity

Parties are fun, but organising them can be hassle. House of Fraser wants to create and capture the party planning market with a new website service.

Design a solution to help people plan parties by offering appealing themes and making it easy to keep track of supplies and costs, even with more than one party host.



I used personas to assist with designing a solution. After conducting interviews with people who matched the persona profiles, I chose to focus on Willow as the primary persona:

  • 24yo fashion marketer
  • Wants to find inspiration for party themes, see what’s trending and share party ideas with her co-hosts


Willow's pain points:

  • having to flip between screens to compare sites;
  • confusing navigation;
  • web-sites that don’t translate to mobiles;
  • wants store pick-up options; and
  • Organising and tracking a party project is a lengthy and confusing process.


“I love having parties at home. Themes are always fun… Competition to be the best party host is intense!”


    User research

    Methods: online survey, user interviews, concept maps

    I interviewed people during the research phase to find out what irritates them when they're planning a party. Key findings were as follows:

    • people prioritise wanting their guests to have a good time;
    • party hosts want creative control;
    • there is a balance between the benefits of creating a beautiful party setting and the money and effort it takes to achieve that;
    • people want to minimise wastage; and
    • party hosts want to minimise stress for themselves.


    In summary, people want a fun and convenience experience that is value for their money.

    “I want to entertain friends with a fun theme and games. The pressure gets bigger each year!” - Margot


    Market Analysis

    Methods: competitive analysis;

    I analysed the competition House of Fraser would face when launching a party planning site. There are direct and indirect competitors that range from bricks and mortar party supply shops, to bloggers providing advice for games, decorations and recipe ideas. 

    After analysing the competitors, I found that there was no real direct competitor that offered people a complete planning package. There is a gap in providing advice on budget, catering costs and the ability to split costs and keep track of spending in one place.


    Understanding the Planning Process

    Methods: card sorting, experience map

    I used a variety of methods to understand the steps people take when planning a party. Card sorting helped with understanding the assumptions people make and how they plan their shopping lists and expeditions.

    The experience map was particularly useful in figuring how House of Fraser could make it easier for a person planning a party. It showed that party planning is fun until it comes to the part where people have to compare prices and purchase goods. 

    Working in teams for this part of the sprint, we developed a task analysis and user journey for the three personas. Each persona had a range of emotions at different on their journey.

    Willow’s experience starts with her deciding that she’ll have a themed party. She enlists the willing services of two of her friends to act as co-hosts and share the preparation burden. They browse their preferred social media sites for party theme and share ideas through various communication channels. They try to keep track of what everyone has purchased, but there has been information all over the place which can be a point of contention between the friends. Organising the purchase, pick-up and delivery of supplies can also be a struggle as they’re all busy with work and social commitments. They get together to prepare for the party and enjoy themselves, sharing photographs of themselves and their friends having a great time.

    For Willow, the main pain points were at the planning stage -  choosing party supplies that are the best value for money, splitting the costs between her co-hosts and chasing money that she’s owed, then arranging either a delivery or pick-up that suits her busy life. The differences between user preferences, both within and between personas, is nuanced and potentially hard to cater for. However, users share broad pain points, particularly the perception of receiving value for money. This was my focus when designing a solution for the House of Fraser.

    The experience map was helpful to see opportunities, as seen below:

    Opportunities apparent from the experience map, notably in the phase between planning and purchasing, and preparation.

    Design Solution

    Idea Generation

    Methods: design studio, concept mapping

    I worked with several other designers in the group to come up with ideas in rapid brainstorming sessions. We came up with ideas to deal with tracking budgets, splitting costs, sharing theme inspiration and party ideas, guest list monitoring and planning.

    Site Navigation

    Methods: user flows, site map, navigation schema

    I sketched several versions of user flows to determine the best navigation scheme. The user flows helped to determined the information hierarchy of the site.


    Methods: paper wireframes, rapid prototyping, user testing

    I sketched rough wireframes of website screens using ideas generated in the design studio. I started testing the paper prototypes with people and went through several iterations 


    Methods: paper prototypes, digital wire-frames in OmniGraffle, user testing, clickable prototype in InVision

    I went through several variations of low-fidelity digital wire-frames to get the structure of the site right. As this was my first time designing a website, I learnt the incredibly valuable and time-saving lesson - design, iterate and test as much as possible on paper.

    Mid-fidelity payment screensMid-fidelity payment screens

    Selected screens showing the evolution from low to mid-fidelity screens.

    As I tested I made amendments to the following:

    • confusion as to what goods were already in cart;
    • people wanted to click on all images;
    • simplify shopping cart;
    • the original themes to scenes of the first two pages was not a coherent flow;
    • refine the hamper page and party manager page; and
    • navigation bar accessible from any point along each of the user-flows.
    Party managerParty manager

    Next Steps

    I recommended the following to House of Fraser:

    • personalise the party blog page with a resident blogger and guests; 
    • further testing of the flow for a customer from choosing a party theme to picking a hamper; 
    • develop for a mobile friendly site; and
    • investigate further the usability and usefulness of the cost-splitter function and the shopping list with data.