Atlanta, GA


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Carvel Online Ordering 

Carvel is seeking to enhance its cake-ordering system and increase sales in online orders by revamping and creating a seamless cake-ordering experience with an emphasis on the custom cake ordering process. 

one of the cake customization features designed by me



Requirements from Focus Brands

Target User Group

The target users are millennials who need to order cakes for special events like birthdays or day to day celebrations like buying a new car. They are students and working professionals proficient in using digital platforms for accomplishing their every tasks like shopping and ordering food. 

Target Platform

We are going to design a responsive website which can be used on both mobile and desktop for this project. Besides, we conducted documentation mining and went through the document provided by Carvel. From Google Analytics, we found that the website is most viewed on mobile devices. So we decided to put more emphasis on mobile devices together with our client.  

Problem Area

Users will enter a third-party ordering platform when they want to order cakes on Carvel's website. We are asked by our client to redesign this platform. And the two main problem areas are as follows:

1. The customized cakes freshly made in-store with a variety of customization options is also one of the key differentiators that set Carvel apart from its competitors. Besides, customization as a business service holds a lot of value for the millennial target group. Therefore, cake customization is a unique selling point of Carvel and should be emphasized in this project. However, a large number of customization options such as the inscription, frosting color, and decorations could overwhelm the user. A better user experience of cake customization need to be included in the online cake ordering experience.


2. Another problem that users face is the difficulty of navigating the third-party ordering platform, which is totally inconsistent with the Carvel website. While the Carvel website is modern and simple to use, the ordering platform is clunky, unintuitive and overwhelming. The platform lacks a clear information hierarchy with too much visual information presented to users at once.

Carvel Ordering Platform



Heuristic Evaluation

Carvel uses a third-party platform called OLO for the cake ordering experience. Performing heuristic evaluation helped us identify usability problems with the current platform and how they might negatively affect the user experience. We used a set of heuristics developed by Jakob Nielson. The heuristic breaches have also been attributed with a severity measure based on the obstruction caused in the user flow and disruption in the experience of the platform. They have been indexed according to the following legend and have been arranged according to the severity.

We found 28 heuristic breaches, which are classified in the following graphs.

Competitive UX Benchmarking


We identified 7 direct competitors for Carvel:

  • Baskin Robbins

  • Dairy Queen

  • Ben and Jerry’s

  • Cold Stone Creamery

  • Friendly’s

  • Haagen Dazs

  • Jeni’s

Note: Cold Stone Creamery, Friendly’s and Haagen Dazs were using the Olo platform which made the cake ordering experience very similar to Carvel. So we decided to select only one from them - Cold Stone Creamery, for our competitive UX benchmarking. Jeni’s has a wonderful platform but they do not sell cakes online. So we excluded it from the analysis.

Benchmarking criterias:

  • Information delivery: In this overarching criteria, we looked at information architecture, navigation and interactions. We studied how the competitors performed in findability, ease of use, consistency with standards and efficiency to name a few. 

  • Appearance: We investigated aesthetics, visual noise and consistency of visual design patterns for the competitors.’

  • Learning: We also looked at the different tools, tips, suggestions and recommendations that could help users in making an informed decision quickly and easily. Any customization involves a multi-faceted decision making process which benefits from any kind of guidance.

Other value additions: We kept an eye out for any features that could add value to the cake ordering experience.

Expert scoring:


Based on the findings from the benchmarking exercise, we created a scoreboard for measuring the performance of the competitors in the following parameters:

  • Information Delivery

    • Findability

    • Information Architecture

    • Navigation

  • Appearance

    • Aesthetics

    • Consistency

    • Visual tidiness

  • Learning - tools, tips, suggestions

For each of these parameters we scored them on a scale of 1-5 and averaged our scores.

Field Study - Expert Interview

We visited two local bakeries, Sweet Cheats and Kroger, which have online ordering platforms as well as customized cake. Because bakers are familiar with customer preferences, online orders and cake customization, we did expert interviews with them to gather these data and learn from their experiences.

a. Most customers only like to change small things for premade cakes.

b. Customers usually order customized cakes for parties, school events, wedding ceremonies and birthdays.

c. Most customers like to email pictures online and make phone calls or go to the store to talk about details if the customization is             complicated.

d. Most online customers order basic cakes.

e. Customers customize cakes to fit the theme that they want to celebrate.

f. Customers usually need to make orders more than 24 hours in advance.

g. Price is set based on the size of the cake. And additional customization adds the price.

In order to analyze the data we gathered from the expert interviews. We grouped the similar notes we took together first. Then, we summarized the grouped notes as follows:

Affinity Mapping

We conducted semi-structured user interviews to:

a. Identify users’ general attitudes to online cake ordering from a more exploratory perspective as we now have a good understanding      of the present Carvel platform from our evaluative methods.

b. Find out how users choose between online and offline cake ordering, as well as mobile and desktop platforms.

c. Understand how users go through their ordering process on a specific cake ordering website they’ve used before, and their thoughts or complaints about the experience.

d. Understand users’ experience and requirements while customizing a cake.

We conducted affinity mapping to analyze the data we gathered from the semi-structured interviews. We converted the notes we took during interviews into more than a hundred of sticky notes in order to perform affinity mapping. Then we organized them into smaller

groups and associated them with user statements, represented by blue stickies.

After that, we grouped our 24 blue stickies into 6 coherent themes with pink stickies. This process helped us come up with design implications.



Sketch, Principle, Adobe Creative Suit, Sketchbook Pro

Individual Design Challenge

2 Days


The customized cakes is one of the key differentiators that set Carvel apart from its competitors. Besides, customization as a business service holds a lot of value for the millennial target group. However, a large number of customization options such as the inscription, frosting color, and decorations could overwhelm the user. 

1. A better cake customization experience need to be included in the online cake ordering experience.

2. And it should be consistent with the Carvel website.

Carvel's Website

Third-Party Cake Ordering Platform

Cake Customization


I drew some sketches to visualize the cake customization process in order to make the process user-friendly instead of overwhelming. Besides I need to keep Carvel's customization options as follows:

Inscription Option:

Write a Custom Message / No Custom Message


Inscription Color Option:

Red/ Yellow/ Green/ Blue/ Pink/ Purple


Frosting Color:

White/ Blue/ Green/ Pink/ Red/ Purple/ Yellow/ Orange


Border Color:

White/ Blue/ Green/ Pink/ Red/ Purple/ Yellow/ Orange



Flowers/ Balloons/ Rainbow/ Confetti Sprinkles/ Rainbow Sprinkles/ Chocolate Sprinkles


Cake center Filling Options:

Chocolate Crunchies/ None

Visual Design Exploration

1. In order to be consistent with Carvel's website, I read through their Zeplin file, and followed the color palette and typography guide in my design.

2. I did visual design exploration on a basic interface. Then I chose two of my design and compared them with each other.

3. There're many hand-drawn elements on Carvel's website, which matches their branding: handcrafted in neighborhood shoppes, traditional, fresh, family and everyday celebration. So I took those elements as reference and drew some elements for my design in Sketchbook Pro.

Carvel Digital Style Guide

Sketchbook Pro

Final Design

Header of Carvel's website

Go back to select size and shape

Visualization of customized cake

Customization options

First level

Second level


Final Prototype

1. Inscription

2. Frosting 

3. Border

4. Decoration

5. Center Filling