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Hey Spot!

An intelligent virtual assistant and personal shopper designed to take the Target guest experience one step further in-store and

at home.


with Himani Auplish, Eva Chung, Kate Guo,

Zhuoneng Wang


UX research, UX/UI Design, Motion Design


6 Weeks

01  - Project Background 

The AI world continues to expand and offer problem-solving solutions for individuals and businesses. With its growing accessibility, how can enterprises embrace AI, seamlessly adopt these innovations, and integrate them into their existing software and services?

Our team chose Target as a case study, a retail giant known for its adaptability and hospitality in its history. We set out to create a virtual intelligence assistant uniquely suited to serve the company and its wide consumer base. Our goal was to enhance the Target guest experience a step further, wherever the consumer was.

02  - The Outcome

Hey Spot!

Spot is a Virtual Assistant designed for Target guests to elevate their shopping experience, in-store and at home. Spot makes recommendations, answers questions and personalizes Target runs based on your shopping history.

In the following screens and video, we can see how Spot assists you on your Target shopping experience. 

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03 - Exploration

Exploratory Research

Combined with field research for on-site observations and in-person interviews, we were able to synthesize our findings into the following three key points. 

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Unique grocery lists but common shopping patterns

Target shoppers are people of habit. People visited the clothing section first, downloaded coupons the day before you go, or picked up coupon immediately upon entering. These were just a few of several habits shared across all participants. 

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Countless options and various distractions

Try as they did, Target consumers would always forget what they came for. With a variety of goods ranging from groceries, electronics and more, it was easy to get distracted. In addition, clearance and new merchandise was constantly rotating. 

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Target ran on a schedule but a flexible one

In our interviews, Target shoppers often went on a schedule but their shopping list changed constantly depending on what was going on that month, such as a birthday party. The Target list was flexible and was adaptable.

Once we had a better understanding of Target shoppers, our next question was the following:

How do improve the shopping experience of Target shoppers?
Who would the VUI be most ideal for?

Target Audience + Persona

When considering our user group, we considered Target's most frequent users. We decided to go with parents and caregivers because they had to go the most often for their household. The following persona was written:

Lily Lin Persona
Concept Development

Once the user group was defined, we identified scenarios that occurred at Target and the VUI's role in assisting the user at home and at the store. Scenarios included reminding the user to return an item, adding items to their shopping list, suggestions when forgetting items, searching for reviews, and more. Shortly afterwards, we divided the Target run into four parts: before shopping, at the store (exploring), at the store (rushing), and at checkout. The scenarios were then drawn into storyboards.

Before Shopping

During Shopping

At Checkout

Before Shopping

Simultaneously, we mapped out the interactions that happened during a typical Target run and when touch points would be necessary. While drafting our scenarios, we gained a better understanding of the shopper's needs and emotions. From here, we also could anticipate the user's action and how the VUI would respond.

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04 - Prototyping


Spot's functionalities were available from at home, while shopping, and ended at checkout until the next Target run. The final wire flow demonstrates how we visualized this experience and identified when and where there were opportunities for Spot to be utilized. Each proposed utilities were mapped to a time frame and location and we then proceeded to make screens for each.

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Initial Prototypes

Target had an existing app that was flooded with features and we wanted to add Spot onto its interface without it taking too much space. Therefore, we decided on three displays for Spot to appear, depending on the user's needs at that moment. We prototyped on Figma and used Adobe After Effects to animate.

Hidden Status
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Short Commands 

To activate Spot, the user states "Hey Spot" followed by a command. Once activated, Spot slid in to answer the user. At the store, Spot would confirm the user's location and offer any ongoing and related promotions. If the user has commands that required a conversation, Spot opens opened up a full drawer. When no longer needed, Spot lowered itself into the bottom of the toolbar.

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Spot's Interactions

Entering the Store + Adding to your list

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Scanning Items + Reviews + Adding to Delivery

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Asking for a Recipe Recommendation + Adding to List


Map + Promotional Areas


Voice Checkout


05 - Our VUI

Defining our Virtual Assistant

The VUI's purpose was to be an assistant and a personal shopper for the user. From our secondary research on Target, we had identified vital elements that represented Target such as the bold colors, logo, and their iconic mascot. We wanted to carry over these traits to maintain Target's brand identity.

Form and Motion

When designing Spot's form, movement and actions, we worked through several variations of Target's mascot and logo. Ultimately, we had landed on circles and a ring to represent Target's flat rings to meet somewhere between 2D and 3D.

We had also pulled inspiration from existing virtual assistants such as Alexa and Google Assistant. VUIs performed in a way in which they moved while conveying emotions. By studying their movements and sketching various iteration through Procreate, the personality and motion came together.

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Incorporating Target's Brand Identity

When designing our VUI, we introduced a secondary circle to assist in conveying emotions. This allowed the motions to be more fluid with the secondary ball shifting into different shapes and forms.

Deciding the secondary ball color came from studying Target's brand identity. Their core colors started with its iconic red and followed with yellow, blue and green. The style guide below led us to incorporate Spot seamlessly into the existing GUI on the Target app.

Spot's Final Eight Motion States

When Spot first appears on the screen

When Spot expects

a on-screen reply


When Spot expects

a verbal reply


When Spot

answers the user

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When Spot proceeds with a request

When Spot leaves and the chat box collapses

When Spot doesn’t understand or fails

When Spot helps users complete shopping

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06 - Reflection

Spot's design was based off understanding Target's identity, its shoppers and staying true to their reliable one-stop neighborhood store. As we ideated and refined, we had reflected on the following:

Designing for Conversation
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First and foremost, our team learned the nuances of designing with voice and various aspects of conversational design by studying human and AI speech. The dialogue played a large part of how emotion and personality conveyed, it was not just through visuals and motions.

Bridging the Gaps
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Coming to service design, Spot bridges the gap between Target’s at home shopping experience and in-store experience. Though the goal was the same, a successful Target run, there were multiple scenarios and needs that were different. 

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Cross-Device Experience

By incorporating a kiosk, we thought about our VUI would travel through both devices and what it would need to retain. We had multiple discussions on how the system worked as a whole versus how individual parts worked. 

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