Session 3: Competitive Analysis


  • Recap Workshop
  • Geek Speak: RSS [Daimon], Cookies [Fina], HTML5 [Linda]
  • Reading/Competitive Analysis Discussion

Agenda changes

  • Second Tech Assignment Due 14 November 
  • Moving this assignment to 21 November so that there are two more times we are F2F

Recap Workshop

  • Review workshop
  • Get URLs!
  • Next workshop – we’ll dig into CSS and themes – what else do you want to learn/do?

Geek Speak

Design and Competitive Analysis Discussion

From the reading

Explore this site. Kathy outlines a persona and scenario (take notes).

  • Working in pairs (doesn’t have to be “your” pair), try to complete the scenario
  • Pay special attention to navigation and design clues – note troublesome (anything that makes you think!) design
  • Kathy notes on navigation design

(1) Scenarios. How do you write a scenario (a narrative around a use-case)? How many people here use one-click? Huddle in pairs or threes and develop a scenario for which One-click is a solution. We’ll share as a group – Kathy will take notes.

amazon one click

(2) Mental models. Who has used One-Click (or any ecommerce site) and had an item ship to the wrong address? What are the assumptions that designers have made in developing this widget for Amazon? How well does that conform with your mental models?

(3) Scenarios. Working in pairs, look at the government sites; then develop one scenario and test it across any appropriate government sites. Note success/potholes.

(4) Mental models— In your genre pairs, pick one ecommerce site (not yours!) and describe why people would come to this site (their tasks) and how they would expect things to work. Write a scenario out (jot high points) and then test the one site.

* Elections redesign feedback

Next project assignment

  • In threes – share your idea (elevator pitch) for your project. If you are the listener – ask probing questions to help the speaker refine the idea. Then swap. Goal: 5 minutes total per person.
  • Find at least three themes (may be free or paid) that might work for your site. Post to this WP site before next Wed -> What are the criteria you are using to assess sites? What are they (name/link/description)?
  • Find at least three more plugins that might work for your site. A separate post to WP site before next Wed -> What are the criteria you are using to assess the plug-ins? What are they (name/link/description)
  • Create a “test” directory on your domain ( and install WordPress. Install all your possible plugins. Install any themes you want to test. NOTE: no frameworks (Thesis)

Next “pairs” assignment

In this class, the purpose of the competitive analysis is primarily to justify the overall strategy for the design.

  • Competitive analysis (partner project) Due Wed 21 November (moved from 14 November)
  • The competitive analysis is a strategic document but it should acknowledge assumptions (or ‘knowns’) about site users
  • Any comparative analysis must rest on heuristics — rules. In the web world, defined/articulated user tasks are used as a method to determine how well visual design is executed (functional design).
  • Some examples:

Reading Assignments Before Our Class On Wednesday 14 November

Reading Assignments Before Our Workshop On Sunday 18 November

Reading Assignments Before Our Class On Wednesday 28 November

About Kathy E. Gill (@kegill)

Digital evangelist, writer, teacher. Webmaster at King County Elections; educator at UW. Transplanted Southerner; teach newbies to ride motorcycles! @kegill,,

8 responses to “Session 3: Competitive Analysis”

  1. Kathy E. Gill says :

    Scenarios for which One-Click is a solution.

    * Bought books for class with one-click.

    * A mom named Grace, she’s a lawyer and really busy. Getting started on Christmas shopping. Her tween has created lists on Amazon. Shopping on work computer at lunch. She clicks on her daughter’s list and is done with her shopping. CLASS response: she is a power-user.

    * Mom loves Amazon – she would have books in the cart. I could add books to her cart. She might tell me to buy with one-click. Delegating to someone not the account owner. RISK: wrong card or address.

    * Mike, 40 year professional on a mobile phone – needs to refer to document on Kindle. Wants to quickly download the Kindle app on his phone. One-click app install.

    * Dad looking to buy a laptop – varying degrees of customization. One click allows non-tech savvy to buy right away.

    * Anna regularly shops – bargain hunter. She’s checked things out and Amazon has the best prices (shipping/taxes). She’s made her decision before she got to the page. Tends to be busy.

  2. kungfoolery says :

    REI – to shop for outdoor gear and clothes
    comparing brands/price/category
    general outdoor shopping – event based
    expectations: filtering, recomendations, discovery, find out about membership
    Scenario: Jerry’s parents from India visiting, no camping gear, but want camping gear for weekend trip, go to section Camping & ______, comparing features/brands/price to determine best fit. Easy process, not price-sensitive, more interested in easy – mission accomplished.

  3. Iku Kawachi says :

    Cobie is a 23-year-old hipster who stumbled across Urban Outfitters. She is looking for an ironic cardigan sweater to wear to an upcoming Christmas party. She’s also fairly tall.

    Urban Outfitters
    – Appeals to younger audiences (including hipsters)
    – Sells men/women apparel and novelty goods
    – Good search functionality

  4. Lukindo says :

    Bill is the owner of an older TV and wants to upgrade to a new HD TV. So he visits the Sony website to look at the options that he has in terms of features and price. He expects to see the full range of options and the ability to sort by size and also be exposed to other features he may not be aware of.

    The Sony site has easy navigation to find the TVs and there are lots of filter options that work well including a feature for side-by-side comparison of products.

  5. Annette Frahm says :

    Gloria, Anthropologie

    She’s dreaming about her holiday attire and how she will stand out among her peers.

    She’s 27, works in downtown Seattle as a lawyer and dresses professionally for her clients, who are mainly up and coming technology entrepreneurs, mainly startups. Wining and dining is part of the job and helps her keep her client base. She lives in a condo in Belltown with a view of Puget Sound and lots of friends with whom she goes out to eat and have cocktails in the hip joints in Belltown and Queen Anne. She’s accustomed to being one of the best-dressed in the room. She travels frequently around the world. Many of the startups have factories in Asia and customers in Europe.

    She comes to the site to make sure she’s getting top-notch attire. She wants to see a full outfit, including accessories, to get a sense of how it all comes together. She wants multiple views and lots of options. The clothes need to meet her expectation of looking young and hip. Price is less important than variety of choices to meet both her professional and social lives.

  6. yellowdresses says :

    Dawn and FIna’s e-commerce mental model:


    Why do people come here?

    – they’re active, outdoorsy, into sports, they’re adventurers
    – want to buy equipment or prep for a trip, get a gift, shop a company that gives back to the community
    – they expect it to offer all the tools they need to go on aforementioned adventures, to offer the gifts they’d want to give outdoorsy friends, and to introduce them to new brands that they may not have been aware of, expect explanation of membership/benefits/stewardship

    purchasing: they expect it to:

    – be able to search for what they want
    – to be able to filter by specific search queries (size, product, color, price, etc.)
    – to be able to hover over the object to get info/reviews/price
    – save products in the shopping cart
    – to one-click purchase
    – where to find physical store in case you want to try something on or return


    Dad, Dave, 45, is a bank exec. He works a lot, in his spare time he likes to go on trips and he likes to take his kids, (divorcee). He sees them half-time and ex sees them half-time. They’re going to Glacier National Park for winter break to ski and they need to get new ski gear for the kids and himself. He doesn’t usually buy things online and is kind of wary about it.

  7. flairhuimingli says :

    -provides robust navigations which are based on functionalities
    -provides comprehensive sorted categories
    -on site edition
    -physical store information available

    Scenario: Joe is planning to go climbing. He needs a sleeping bag. Also, he has specific needs of temperature, weight and brands.

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