Facilitating Expert Search through Information Architecture


vidéothèque (spec-client)

My Roles

UX Writing, Information Architecture,

Research, Design




10 Days


vidéothèque (VT) is an LA film rental store specializing in obscure, rare, old, and hard to find features. For this project conducted through General Assembly, I was tasked with redesigning their desktop site, with specific attention paid to information architecture.


Users have an overall high level of knowledge of VT's products and inventory. This redesign presented the opportunity to empower these users to bring their inherent expertise into their searching and browsing experiences.


  • Search is restrictive, users can only search with non-semantic keywords, with no options to filter results.

  • Categories are unintuitive and highly specific. Almost every one of the 1,800+ categories contains only 1 product entry.


  • Allow users to create the specific browse/search experience they're seeking

  • Robust search system with subsequent filter options

  • Removal of mutual exclusivity of products within categories


  • User Interviews

  • Affinity Mapping

  • Personas

  • User Research

  • Secondary Research

  • Wireframing

  • Sketching

  • User Testing


  • diagrams.net

  • Sketch

  • Pen + Paper

  • Photoshop

  • inDesign

  • InVision

  • Optimal Workshop


Mental Models of Browsing

User Interviews + Secondary Research

I began my research with user interviews and secondary research. I first wanted to learn what users/customers loved about videotheque in order to improve their experience. My research focused on users’ mental models and expectations when browsing films and yielded some helpful results.

Key Findings

  • Users showed a range of mental hierarchies and categorization methods

    • These methods were diverse even within a single user’s preferences

  • Film genres are subjective and malleable, even within SMEs

  • Users will only engage with curated lists when they know they come from experts

Genres are...subjective

Synthesis + Planning

After synthesizing my initial research into a persona, I wanted more clarity on how users would sort through and categorize the existing content on VT. I completed a brief content inventory and moved into a card sort.


This card sort was initially challenging. By the nature of VT's business, the majority of their content is unknown to a vast majority of users, making its categorization near impossible. To remedy this, I created a card sort using only genre/category identifiers to learn how users would group and sort films when content is stripped away. This card sort lead to some extremely valuable insights


  • Even within SMEs, the categorization of film/genres is highly subjective

  • Users’ mental models when browsing film incorporate multiple genre/sub-genre/category identifiers into a single search/browsing experience



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