Design Engineering
Showcase

The Magic of Things Ltd

Student
Mark Ridge
Team
Engineering
Supervisor
Dr Petar Kormushev
Role
Design Engineer
Sector
Technology, Media and Telecommunications

Over the course of the past six months and as part of my degree, I have completed a placement at The Magic of Things Ltd. Though the nature of the placement was inevitably different to the one that had originally been envisioned, it was still a thoroughly enjoyable experience. In many ways, this was due to the world the company found itself in, constantly having to adapt and find new ways to reach its market. My achievements include revamping the shop website into a successful shop platform, getting 30 products CE certified and prototyping elements for the Cauldron’s latest venture.

Mark Ridge — The Magic of Things Ltd

Demonstration of Design Engineering Thinking and Skills

The skills I have learnt over the past three years of my degree have been invaluable and I used them on a daily basis during my placement.

One of the main skills I have utilised is the ability to identify the skills needed for a project and then learn these in as fast and efficient manner as possible. This was demonstrated when we were tasked with revamping the company’s online shop, first created to help sustain income during the strictest stages of lockdown. Having no experience in web design, I had to quickly develop my knowledge of the coding languages html, CSS and liquid.

Mark Ridge — The Magic of Things Ltd
Samples of completed website.

Once the website was coded, we turned our attention to conversion rate. As a brief overview, conversion rate is the number of people who buy something over the total number of people who visit the site. It is important because it is far cheaper for a business to customer enterprise to employ a low traffic, high conversion model rather than the opposite. This is because advertisements are expensive, whilst improving the site’s experience is a somewhat cheaper and more sustainable option.

Mark Ridge — The Magic of Things Ltd
Illustration of conversion rate.

To determine what was causing this (picture shows possible reasons for a low conversion rate), the Intern group installed Hotjar, a software that can be installed into a site to track and record customers to obtain key pieces of information such as heatmaps, recordings and traffic numbers.

To decide what was best in the site we consistently used a technique known as A/B testing. This is where we replaced the old concept or page, A, with the new one, B. We would then monitor the recordings and heatmaps of the site over a period of approximately seven days and decide whether to stick with B or switch back to the old version A. If it were swapped, the new version would become the old version and the process would repeat. Learning how to effectively use a new technology such as Hotjar to aid with this experimental iterative process was crucial as it meant that we had more data than just our bottom number.

Role and Contributions

As part of the engineering team, I was mainly responsible for the curation of new interactive elements however due to nature of my studies, I was also involved in projects which would normally be outside of the engineering team. An example of this would be web design projects.

One of the biggest contributions during my placement was obtaining CE certification on 30 individual products. I identified the need for this project and led it from start to completion. This involved researching the directives (CE covers 20 different directives which cover different type of products) we had to meet, what was needed to meet these directives and then carrying out the tests necessary. As we chose to self-test our products rather than send them to a lab, every stage of the process had to documented in a rigorous fashion in case our products were ever called into speculation. The picture below shows the documentation needed to prove compliance with a CE directive. Obtaining CE markings was a big step for the company. Not only did it allow our products to be sold as toys, it could also open the pathway to being able to sell to major retailers.

Mark Ridge — The Magic of Things Ltd
An example of how to meet CE directives (what is required).

I also designed and prototyped a set of scales that would be used to weigh customers wands in the Wizard Exploratorium, a brand new five-story interactive science museum next to the Palace Theatre London. This was important due to the association between a wand’s ‘characteristics’ and its weight, as described in various literature.

Lastly, I was also involved in on-site work, supporting the installation of wooden partitions to split tables into separate enclosed spaces for individual groups. This was important for the company as splitting the tables into two effectively doubled the venues capacity which was not possible before due to a lack of protection between groups.

Summary

In conclusion I have thoroughly enjoyed my placement and found it an extremely educational and enjoyable experience. Working in the type of environment that I hope to one day find myself in was extremely useful and I am very grateful to everyone at the Magic of Things for making my experience as beneficial as possible.

My message to next year’s placement students would be to not overlook the opportunities that start-ups offer. There is nothing like the flexibility and getting to do a bit of everything that working at a small company brings!

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