In his thesis, Before you click: Design for Better Decision-Making in Online Shopping, Zihan Chen examines the problems of product design in online shopping from the perspective of users, businesses, and platforms, to provide online shoppers with tools of various kinds for making better purchasing decisions. His thesis proposes interventions that make online shopping less impulsive, more mindful and more social.


“Online shopping has changed the way we live simply by transforming the quality of the goods we buy and the quality of the money we spend,” Zihan says. Through researching the basics of the human mind and examining various contemporary digital shopping tools, Zihan set out to create tools that provide online shoppers with both a faster shopping experience and the higher-quality data required for good decision-making.


The Conscious

The Conscious by Cartier is a speculative jewelry design created to reflect on impulsive decision-making as a common phenomenon in online shopping. The pair of platinum bracelets magnetically connect to mimic handcuffs, signifying the feeling of not being in control when making impulsive shopping decisions. When worn on each hand of an individual user, the bracelets serve as encouragement for self-corrective behavior. When the bracelets are worn by two separate people, the user is accountable to the person wearing the other bracelet, be that a family member, a friend, or a mentor.


The Impulsive

Zihan held a co-created workshop during which participants were asked to draw or create in 3D app icons, food packages, and digital buttons that they thought would encourage impulsive shopping decisions. An important insight came from Ana, a participant, who shared, “When we are here talking together, we, more or less all know how they trick us to buy stuff (online). But when we are alone making decisions, we mess it up again.” The word “alone” got Zihan thinking about making decisions individually versus as a group in the world of online shopping.


Chat Bar

Chat Bar is a product-based and In-App embedded chatroom with API and SDK for all business and developers [ALLAN: I don’t know what this means so I don’t know how to rephrase it!]. The chatroom connects online shoppers with each other, so that shoppers are making decisions together, with insights accessible. Chat Bar appears at the top of the user’s screen, showing the live chat of all the other customers who are also looking at the product at that moment. Shoppers can tap the bar and join the conversation to speak with fellow customers, as well as with staff from the companies they are shopping from.



Hive is a personal mobile data computing and storage server that provides online shoppers with a powerful add-on of CPU and Memory to their existing devices, for a much faster data computing performance in order to provide instant insights for the online shoppers. “Instead of storing your data on someone else’s server, you now have them in your pocket, or on your desktop, completely under your control, safe and secure,” says Zihan.


Zen Shopping Experience

Zen Shopping Experience is a Zen-inspired shopping experience based on meditation, with which Zihan was able to create and test out his visions for the future of online shopping in the real world with online shoppers; he believes online shopping will be more customizable, user centric, and insights-driven.


To learn more about Zihan Chen’s work, take a look at his projects in more detail on