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Shopify Hackathon

How can we leverage Shopify's existing ecosystem to make entrepreneurship more
accessible than ever before?

Tools: Figma, Adobe Creative Suite, Polaris

Timeline: 24 hours

My Role: UI/UX Design, UX Writer, UX Writing, Prototyping

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Sell online with Shopify Playground

Sell more Struggle less

Summary: The online ecommerce platform aims to increase the accessibility of its tools in order to help current and prospective business owners. My task involved introducing Shopify Playground, which is designed i. to make the Shopify Help Center more friendly, ii. to help business owners remain motivated to improve their business, and iii. to decrease the merchant attrition. 

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1.75 Million


175 Countries

Merchants around

the world

457 Million

People bought from a Shopify store, 2020


The Problem

Maximizing Accessibility  

Shopify has a mission to make commerce better for everyone. I learned that despite their dominance, Shopify is aiming to constantly reinvent themselves in order to make entrepreneurship more accessible and inclusive than ever before.

The Secondary Research

The Struggles of Entrepreneurship

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, I discovered that roughly 20% of new businesses fail within their first couple of years. That figure climbs to 45% within five years and 65% during the first ten years. Only about a quarter of new businesses make it past the 15-year mark. The following cards display what I learned about the challenges of running an online ecommerce platform like Shopify.  

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How might we empower current and prospective Shopify merchants to better build their businesses by leveraging the existing Shopify ecosystem in order to ensure entrepreneurial success and decrease merchant attrition? 

Proven Experts'


Courses On Demand


Shopify Apps 

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My Solution

Shopify Genius. On Demand. 

Research shows that some users give up during the initial process and phase of setting up a new store. In order to establish an immediate sense of community and support to address those aforementioned challenges, I decided to gamify the merchant platform to help merchants feel welcome to their store's command center. Shopify Genius is designed to afford users with lighthearted dialogue to provide advice and data informed analytics for decision and execution based on store performance. Shopify Genius exists as an extension of Shopify Playground (explained later), a portal that presents information in a more accessible and inclusive manner. 

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Smart and adaptive  

Gamification and guiding resources to help entrepreneurs based on assessment and dialogue 

Available in 21 languages

Shopify Genius can offer support in multiple languages

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Assistive technology for business development and personal education.


Brewing up the process.

After a quick review of customer feedback, it was clear that even though Shopify already has extensive documentation around how to build online stores within Shopify help center, the platform itself needed a more accessible, interactive, and playful way to present this to the merchant. I explored user feedback on forums to understand user expectations, pain points, and etc to guide my designs and proto-persona creation. 

Protecting Entrepreneurs 1

Forums reveal that owners burnout due to store set-up optimization is a major reason why businesses fail. Informed by this, is it possible to have a companion like presence that lives on merchant's Shopify platform to help merchants? Instead of expecting novice merchants to be immediate "experts" at store set-up, is it possible to deploy a smart agent that constantly evaluates store progress against owners action within the platform to get merchants on their feet? 

Respecting Accessibility 2

In depth analysis reveals that the Shopify help center is neatly organized as shown and is equipped with search functionality. However, it does not help those who are differently abled or those living with learning disabilities overcome traditional learning barriers. 

"One of the biggest challenge I face is not knowing what I don't know. I wish somebody can listen and direct me to a place where I can learn based on my cognitive and accessibility differences." 

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For example, is it possible to gamify this wealth of knowledge and organize it like a course by Google Coursera (left) or a game like PS5 Gran Turismo (right) to make it less seem like a list of documents for read? Currently, the knowledge is static, reactive, or only shown upon merchant discovery. Is it possible to intelligently present these golden nuggets for new merchants proactively in a different medium (i.e voice & caption) i. to facilitate learning, ii. to make learning fun, and iii. to alleviate growing pains?


Respecting Accessibility 3

I learned that Shopify stakeholders expected an an emphasis on accessibility and inclusivity. Reading between the lines, what improves accessibility will inevitably improve usability and vice-versa." Therefore, following this guiding expectation, is it possible to visually alter the dissemination of knowledge? Will this help current and prospective merchants better master the command of running Shopify's future tools, thereby help decrease business attrition?   

Pencil Sketch

Sketch to solution.


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#1  I studied Shopify's design system

and design language to discover a potential starting point for Shopify Playground's Entry Point on the bottom right of the platform.

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#2  Video games employ a treasure map view and format to allow players to see game progress and achievements.

This can help merchants feel a sense of accomplishment when they take time i. to learn within the Shopify platform and ii. to make changes to their own store. 

#3  Shopify's existing documentation can come to life as digital media files that can be consumed, enjoyed, and shared. Audio playback of text and documents can address the issue of accessibility to cater merchants of different capacities. 

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Key Learnings

Based on the challenge from the stakeholder, I was able to use Shopify's existing resource and platform to address a fundamental problem: accessibility. Without a doubt, running a business isn't easy, but reaching out for help and pertinent information shouldn't be hard. If Shopify's vision is "to make commerce better for everyone, so businesses can focus on what they do best – building and selling their products," then doubling down on the delivery & presentation of their own resource seems logical and important for merchants. I thoroughly enjoyed Shopify's Design System and learning about Polaris. It is a powerful tool with extensive documentation! In the future, I hope to leverage their ways of thinking in my future designs. Lastly, I absolutely love taking ownership of my own idea and creation.