With the prompt “sell me something”, we were asked to create a website that would convince the user to buy the product we were marketing to them. I took an alt route with this and decided to force my user to buy something whilst also forcing them to go through the psychological process of purchasing something unethically. I wanted the experience to be surreal and concerning, and what better company to build this concept around than Petco—known for harming and killing the animals it sells.
The key to making this surreal concept work was making it feel like it could live under the Petco brand. I studied the brand and website implementation, found on petco.com, and decided to create an updated version of their current site. I updated their site both visually and in their brand messaging.
The layout now was a more modern approach to a store with hero images and updated brand attributes.
I wanted the shopping experience to feel complete, giving the user options as if they were purchasing something off the internet just like they normally would but while also making the user subconsciously feel uncomfortable.
UX Mission Support
To achieve the goal of selling a specific item to the user, I had to force them into a set narrative. UI features such as number counters that made certain options be “out of stock” and prompts to buy a product, forced the user to choose the preset path.
I wanted to also introduce certain issues related to Petco in a humorous and alarming way. Issues such as dying and fish looking ill through a loss of color were subtly added to the UX.
UX/UI Study: Constricting Screen
The most in-your-face UI tactic I used was the constricting screen that first showed the user the peacefulness of a swimming fish on their screen only to constrict revealing the actuality of the situation. People are most notably purchasing fish because of “the calming, euphoric effect" that watching them swim has on the viewer. However, the reality of the situation is that they are kept in small containers, restricted and most likely unhappy.
The euphoric and surreal UI for this moment was created with a mix of brand-specific color gradient overlaid on a video-turned-gif of a betta fish swimming.
Through UI and UX tactics, the user is introduced to the idea that what they are purchasing isn’t the most ethical. However, I wanted to enforce this idea by creating a full shopping experience. After users are prompted to buy the fish out of guilt—as it looses its color and starts to “die”—they are then go through the process of finding hidden terms & conditions as well as warnings that aid in the message of the project.
A tracker was then added to convey the issues that Petco has in its distribution line. Finally, ending with a humorous surprise.