Project Overview

Project Type:  Shopify Hackathon at Brainstation

Timeframe: 24 Hrs

UX Designers: Chantal Varon, Maya Skarzenski
Web Developers: Fahd Munir, Yik Tung Yeung, Natanael Javier
Data Scientists: Ben Katz, Shaneel Appadu

My Responsibilities: UX Researcher,  UX/Ui Designer,  Prototyping


During this Hackathon, we had 24 hours to identify and research a problem space within Shopify's ecosystem, design a feasible solution, and present it to Shopify. Using their established design system and communities, our team developed a new chat feature. This chat feature allowed users to connect with other users, mentors, or customer service reps to better navigate and utilize Shopify's products. Our goal was to strengthen Shopify's current community while removing barriers for newer users.

The Challenge

For the Brainstation X Shopify Hackathon Shopify asked us:

How can you imagine Shopify using its Ecosystem to help lower the barrier to digital entrepreneurship in entirely new regions, demographics, and business sectors?

Problem Space

Shopify is one of the most popular e-commerce platforms on the planet with a 23% market share in the U.S. They have more than 2.1 million daily active users and more than 1.75 million merchants.

Their merchants have access to the robust Shopify Ecosystem, a network of partners that includes:

  • Developers who create apps for the Shopify app store
  • Designers who create themes for the Shopify theme store
  • Entrepreneurs, educators, influencers, and content creators who inspire and teach    their audience about entrepreneurship with Shopify via the Shopify Affiliate Program.
  • Designers, developers and consultants available for hire to help with marketing, store setup,   custom development, content, and more via the Shopify Experts marketplace.

    So they asked us...

    How can you imagine Shopify using its Ecosystem to help lower the barrier to digital entrepreneurship in entirely new regions, demographics, and business sectors?

Problem Statement:

How might Shopify better leverage its Ecosystem so that they can make entrepreneurship more accessible than ever before?

Secondary Research


The typical 50-year-old founder is 1.8 times more likely to achieve high growth


of ventures created by older entrepreneurs were still operating compared to 28 percent of their younger counterparts.


of small business owners were over the age of 50

Current  Experience

On Shopify's current site we found an opportunity to harness its community ecosystem, partners, and customer service team to help older business owners move into the digital marketplace.

Though Shopify has a forum for community members to connect in, there isn't much activity when you consider its network of more than 1.75 million merchants.

What We Learned

The older demographic has immense potential for online business. Our main opportunity is to expand the digital marketplace to be more inclusive to the elderly population.

In order to address our findings, we refined our design question.

How might we help older entrepreneurs navigate the digital era so that they feel supported while growing their business?


The Solution

We developed an integrated chat support assistant that harnessed the power within Shopify's community ecosystem, partners, and customer service team to help older business owners move into the digital marketplace and help lower the barrier to digital entrepreneurship.

By identifying Shopify's strengths and new opportunities for growth we found a solution utilizing Shopify's community to assist and support new business owners.

Imagine Linkedin, meets chatbots, meets mentoring.

The Journey

Tina is trying to buy and upload her domain. But doesn't really understand how to do it, she reads the learn more section but is just having a hard time grasping how it works. She thinks to herself "I need some help" and conveniently finds the help icon at the bottom of her screen. She clicks in and immediately is greeted.

She informs the bot about her problem and is provided with a few options on how and whom she would like to communicate with to get help.
She chooses a community member and sets up a video chat. She loves that she notified what the wait time will be and She feels immediately relieved that she will have a live human who works in her to support her knowing they've been in her shoes before.

She gets the help she needs from Shopify's trusted community ecosystem. The young and tech-savvy help the more seasoned and the more seasoned impart wisdom on the young.

Chat Support Assistant

Tina can easily find a chat support that allows her access to Shopify’s entire ecosystem for immediate support on a variety of business needs.

Instant Community
/Mentor Support

She can access Shopify’s community, mentor or customer service support team member to chat now or set up a meeting to get help for any of her questions.

Wait Time Notifications

With Shopify’s network of more than 1.75 located all over, Tina can select a source of help and get paired with a member in her network of entrepreneurs.

Video Chat / Screen Share

Tina can then have a video chat with screen share capabilities so that she can easily get the support she needs to avoid feeling overwhelmed and siloed.

User Interface Design

Shopify uses Polaris as their Design System. Polaris is open to the public and gives detailed instructions on components, patterns, and principles used across Shopify's admin products. While designing a new feature for Shopify, it was imperative that we utilise Polaris and understand Shopify's approach to design principles. Doing so allowed us to create a design inline with Shopify's established branding and ethos.

We integrated the chat feature into Tina's dashboard as a floating icon in the bottom right corner. Using Polaris, we built components that blended seamlessly into Shopify's UI. Colour, font, button layouts, and icons were all pulled from their design system to build a comprehensive prototype.

Next Steps

Honing in on Features

After launching the chat system, it would be really advantageous to collect user data on how much users use different features within the system. Maybe too many users are too shy to use the video chat or they find it takes too long to get in touch with other users and they want to be able to connect with others within the first two clicks of opening the chat.

Understanding User Connections

We need to do further research on how users will interact with one another through the feature. Creating user-to-user connections comes with some unpredictability and some risk as we cannot control how people treat each other. We would need to create systems to manage the quality of the feature and safeguard users from others.

Key Learnings


In researching and developing this project, we had to take into consideration the feasibility of the feature and learn how we can better design something that is practical for Shopify to implement. Initially, we planned to include more customer service representatives in our journey, but realized that this might not be scalable for Shopify.

Cross-Disciplinary Teams

This project was one of my early experiences working with developers and data scientists. Going into it, I did not have a clear understanding of what data scientists did, but through lots of communication we were able to learn how to best collaborate and make use of each other's skills.

If you're interested in my work contact me on Linkedin!

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