Distilling A Fusion of Old and New —
A UX Case Study
Hip New Vision to an Historic Site
We are three people from three different parts of the globe, myself, (Diane King), Cinco Gu, and Rodrigo Mavu, coming together to explore new visions for an historic site.
The Task
Business Improvement Areas of Toronto: build a web-based tool that anyone can access in order to build an increased interest in shopping local, supplement the sales of local market shops, and increase community engagement.
Areas of consideration were, The Distillery District, The St. Lawrence Market, and Kensington Market — we chose The Distillery. I had been to the Distillery many times for many reasons, invitations for art exhibits, to see a play at Soul Pepper Theatre, to dine with friends and family, to shop, but mostly I come for the art installations, such as The Toronto Light Fest, etc., however my two colleagues had never been to the Distillery District so I was excited to share my experiences with this beautiful fusion of old meets new in our awesome city of Toronto.
A little bit about the Distillery
At one point in the Distillery’s history, it was THE LARGEST DISTILLERY IN THE WORLD, however Canada’s short lived prohibition era brought everything to a standstill in the 1920’s. After prohibition, the Distillery did continue operations until 1990 when it closed it’s doors for good. However it was brought back to life as A NUMBER ONE FILM LOCATION OUTSIDE OF HOLLYWOOD for a while and in 2001 it was purchased by Cityscape Holdings Inc. who restored it to what it is today, a transformed pedestrians-only district dedicated to arts, culture and entertainment. NOW A TOP TOURIST ATTRACTION TO THE CITY OF TORONTO.
Distillery Toronto

Photo courtesy of The Distillery District Website

The appeal of the Distillery District reaches far and wide.
Parer Studio Installation

Photo courtesy of Mckenzieking Designs

History and architect seekers to romancers and foodies to the art & cultural enthusiasts. Today the Distillery District hosts artist installations that are world class, such as the current FANTASTIC PLANET EXHIBIT by Parer Studio.
It has some of Toronto’s BEST BOUTIQUES, including everything from stylish fashions and trendy products to unique gifts. It’s ALIVE WITH CULTURE, WORLD-RENOUNED FESTIVALS AND EVENTS, and for the foodies, it has AWARD-WINNING DISHES from a diverse selection of International cuisines. A MUST-SEE PLACE TO VISIT IN TORONTO!
Our next step was to name our team, our team became the PURPLE COBRAS, and here we are in the midst of where OLD MEETS NEW walking the cobblestones of the Distillery, livin’ the dream!​​​​​​​
Team Purple Cobras

Team Purple Cobras

We started our mission of INTERVIEWING AND TAKING SURVEYS around 4pm on a Thursday. We decided to split up taking different areas of the district. I soon found out that I had a knack for this and I got amazing responses, however my colleagues did not find this to be quite as wonderful as I, so we decided to try again the following morning. I stuck around until 7pm and was looking forward to finding out more the following day through some tips from the store owners I had already interviewed. On Friday morning, I got some great feedback from our surveys and we realized that we needed to add some questions and fix others to make our survey better. We decided that Cinco and Rodrigo would input some written notes while I did the legwork of people to people convos.
We went back to the office for 1pm and from there we added our data into a spreadsheet and performed analysis to create our personas. We created three personas, a business owner and two distillery visitors.
Below is a DATA ANALYSIS CHART and one of our PERSONAS based on our surveys.
Data analysis from survey

Data analysis from survey

Meet Callum Walsh, our Persona
Persona: Callum visiting from Ireland

Persona: Callum visiting from Ireland

I’m visiting Toronto from Ireland and I like visiting places that make me feel connected to the local culture. I don’t really want to be in a ‘touristy’ destination, but rather an area with a mix of art, culture, restaurants, and shopping where I can mingle with the locals and other visitors.
Affinity Diagrams
We made affinity diagrams to help us with organizing our research and identifying the frustrations of our personas as well as their wants and needs.​​​​​​​
Affinity diagram

Affinity Diagram

Frustrations of our personas
We found that the website was not quite meeting the needs of visitors and business owners. We found that many tourists and visitors have to fit activities and dining into a time slot so being able to organize their visit would greatly help.
We discovered that many of the visitors spent their money buying cheaper products (ex. Padlocks, Ice-cream, coffee). They were interested in the products from other stores and to dine in the Distillery District restaurants, but they perceived them as something unique and not affordable for their budget.
While interviewing the business owners we found that they believed that footfall at the Distillery was good however actual point of purchase was low, getting people to spend money inside their stores was needed as well as more events taking place during the down time months of January through April.
Many store fronts found that there was an extreme peek in sales during the Christmas Market but then sales dropped off significantly for January through April.
The Distillery District website page

The Distillery District website

Our plan to solve the frustrations of our personas
The hero image on the home page will change on a daily basis based on what is happening in the Distillery (events, art exhibitions, market). On the remaining days, we will showcase a store to visit.
Tool that allows visitors to plan their visit and add to a planning cart which can then be sent to their email. It’s an always visible tool placed at the menu bar of the website, allowing users to add a new store or restaurant that catches their interest during the navigation.
Insert a page with information, brief description, contact details, link to their website and ADD TO MY VISIT button.
Digital coupon book with discounts and benefits in restaurants and stores to encourage neighbourhood residents to visit the Distillery District more often.
Competitive & Comparative Analysis
Comparing what the competition was doing on their websites gave us insight into how to manage our plans with adding ‘vouchers’, a ‘Hero Image’ and a ‘Plan your Visit’ to the layout of our design.
We looked at many websites such as The Steamwhistle Brewery for events in the city, this site had a clear hero image, something we added for our proposal. We also looked at non-local sites such as JP Wiser’s, another with a great hero image. My initial idea for a ‘Plan Your Visit’ was to have a Call to Action (CTA) directly on our hero image as in the Evergreen Brick Works site, however we ended up deciding to do a fly-out tab on our navigation bar instead, as we saw on the Black Creek Pioneer Village site.

Competitive & Comparative websites

Competitive & Comparative websites

Fly-out menu

Idea for fly-out menu as in above pic

Low Fidelity Prototypes
Through sketching shapes of elements to see the basic visual hierarchy through wireframing we were able to mimic complex interactions and facilitate adjustments quickly before they became too difficult.
Lo-fi sketch

Lo-fi sketch

The Big Finale
Using software, Sketch and InVision, to create our mid-fidelity prototype, brought everything more to life by including most or all of the content that will appear in the final design. We were able to add more realistic interactions that gave us meaningful feedback during our usability testing.
Our first run of user testing showed that the engager process was not immediately clear, for example, when asked to find a particular store, etc. we saw that the user’s first tendency was to search through the navigation bar instead of scrolling as we had it set up. We realized that when looking for a particular store, restaurant, theatre, etc. that our navigation bar needed to have a drop down menu for easy access to these areas.
Also we needed to have daily open and close hours on our stores, restaurants, etc. to make it easier for people to add to their plan — whether it would fit into their day or not.
We found that an ‘estimated time for visit’ was impossible to predict.
Users did not find it easy to find the vouchers at first glance due to having to scroll.
We needed to add a ‘Print Voucher’ & ‘Send by Email’ for the Vouchers.

This brings us to our Mid-Fi Prototype.
Future Recommendations
There was a concern while speaking with many people we surveyed, about the identity crisis of the Distillery, whether the distillery district was considered a community or a tourist attraction. Many of the locals did not want to come into the Distillery because they felt it was a tourist attraction, to promote it as a community would attract more locals. A connection to local surroundings would help business during the down time.
Incorporating features such as LIVE VIDEO on the website for major events would help with user interaction.
Utilize SOCIAL MEDIA to include live feeds.
Creating more FAMILY-FRIENDLY EVENTS would also help make it more community driven. Even my friend’s, 6-year-old son said he was bored when we recently went to visit. He loved the ice cream but there wasn’t much to entertain him otherwise. Events in general are needed especially during the down time, maybe ice sculptures, treasure hunts, and celebrity chef events.
Maybe a kid’s music day, a superheroes day, or a witches and wizards day for Halloween, egg hunts for Easter, etc. Bring some animals in for a farm day!
The End of the Cobblestone Trail
Well, this brings us to the end of our UX Case Study. Thank you for taking the time to read this case study.

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