PRODUCT DESIGN FOR AN IOS STYLE ADVICE APP
UX Consulting • UX Research • UX Testing • UX Strategy • Content Strategy • Copywriting • Photo Art Direction • Photo Editing
Tipster gives users personalized style advice from industry experts & tastemakers in fashion, hair, and beauty through an iOS app. It's a "Style Friend" in your pocket — savvy of your preferences while giving unbiased, quality advice through direct chat and video consultations that help bring out your best self. I worked in collaboration with a startup and digital agency as the in-house UX Consultant and Lead UX Researcher to design the client (a.k.a. the advice-seeker) and stylist app experience. Below is a case study for the client experience.
In the beginning, our startup client of seasoned professionals in the style and entertainment industries approached the agency with a vision to design a product that connects users with quick tips on fashion, beauty and lifestyle from experts, brand ambassadors, peers and the general public.
As we got deeper into the user and market research, we saw new demands and business opportunities extending from the original vision. We refined the project scope to focus on designing a platform that offers quality, tailored advice from style professionals that's available at varying price points and service tiers. The app would establish and maintain feelings of trust throughout the journey for both short and longterm client-stylist relationships in a confidential space, whereas the original idea relied on instant, approval-based incentives via votes and coins informed by the public.
Offers Quality Advice
Offers Different Service Tiers
Needs To Be Economical
Establishes Immediate Trust
One of the main challenges was to lessen the barriers of entry in working with a stylist. Many research participants assumed it would be too expensive and wouldn't know where to begin in finding the right stylist. Tipster has features to make the discovery process easy and automated, with affordable services starting at $1.99 for Instant Advice.
I was the Lead UX Researcher for the product, designing and conducting research during the buildout, and pivoting my approach as additional insights called for. I began with an initial survey to concept value test early stages of the product idea. After learnings from the survey, I distributed a second survey asking targeted questions which was done with 340 participants, conducted 10 in-depth interviews with stylists and clients, and participated and/or observed 5 practice style sessions over video chat. I distilled the insights, noting the overlaps and patterns from the research data to arrive at the MVP. Interviews and practice style sessions were also iterated as I progressed in my research to further refine the MVP.
Our first MVP consisted of Instant Advice and Consultation services tailored to fashion, hair and beauty expertise.
“I’d love product suggestions with fool-proof applications where I can do it myself.”
— LAURYN, Chicago, 21
“I’m starting a new job in a new city & industry after having a baby, so I’m looking for my ‘mid-30s, cool-mom-working-in-tech’ style that's effortlessly rock ‘n’ roll.”
— SARA, Seattle, 33
“I recently lost a bit of weight, and could use help adjusting to a fitter body.”
— NATHAN, Denver, 42
01 The Lookbooks feature was included as research showed that they're essential in helping communicate visual inspiration and references on both the client and stylist side of the experience. Due to the visual appeal of the lookbooks and ease of generating fresh and updated content by stylists, the feature displays in the client's feed as the home page experience.
02 Stylist profiles are one of the primary features used to establish trust in the client, helping them make confident, informed decisions on which stylist to work with. A photo of the stylist serves as the hero element, placed at the top, and filling a third of the screen because first impressions on one's appearance was linked to clients' perceptions of the level of quality advice they would receive. This was especially true in a looks-based economy.
03 Our MVP consisted of Instant Advice and Consultation services. Instant Advice is designed for client-stylist interactions lasting 5 minutes or less. It aligns more closely with Tipster's original product vision of gaining quick validation, but guarantees a professional opinion from pre-vetted stylists and tastemakers. Consultations are meant for members seeking longterm, premium services that helps them set a strong style foundation and offers continued support for their style needs.
04 The Instant Advice feature was ultimately distilled into 8 questions that were both validated by clients and stylists of being the quickest and most popular questions to get style advice on. Instead of asking clients to manually type in their questions, they would select from the pre-populated list and get instantly matched with a stylist with an answer. The style question would be resolved in under 5 minutes.
05 Once the client is in the Instant Advice flow, they'll also get to select from a "Fashion," "Hair," and "Beauty" option by a simple tap, to streamline the back-and-forth between the stylist and client of what type of service they need and to prevent clients from asking multiple questions. With the combination of photo upload prompts and a message field, vague messaging and clarification for details are minimized so stylists can respond effectively.
06 The video chat feature was added towards the end of user testing and near the beta launch. It was a happy accident in a way: through doing the practice style sessions to assess the experience, clients and stylists eyes lit up and the energy and engagement dramatically increased. For an app that gives advice on personal appearance, we realized that it would be priority to offer a video consultation feature for an improved, overall user experience.
07 We were striving to have a youthful, modern and upbeat tone of voice for the app, so the palette and names were designed to match that. The colors feature was an important onboarding element because it helped clients establish their color preferences, allowing stylists to make tailored recommendations with the clients' tastes in mind.
08 The most popular brands were distilled from market research of trending companies and survey results of 340 respondents to the 12 displayed here. A combination of brands tailored to male, female, and gender-neutral shoppers of different income levels and tastes were also considered, conveying the idea that there's "something for everyone," creating an all-inclusive experience.
09 Survey results revealed that musicians / pop music stars, movie celebrities, tv celebrities, and supermodels (listed in the order of most popular) were the most influential people to serve as style icons. I included a range of public figures who represented different styles, further based on survey results which showed that casual, classic, rock 'n roll, urban and feminine (listed in order of most popular) styles were how respondents described their style. Specific style icons also referenced in user interviews are included here.
10 User testing revealed that privacy was an important component in establishing trust between the client and stylist within the app. This Privacy screen appears during the onboarding stage to let users know early in their journey that their information is confidential, instilling trust from the beginning.
11 To reaffirm the privacy terms, we included a friendly reminder at the top letting users know they have the option to skip entering info about their measurements. However, because this information is useful to stylists, we suggest the alternative of discussing it during their session. We defaulted the height to match the average of a U.S. woman.
12 The Weight screen appears after the Height screen because it was shown to be the most private measurement to share. We place this towards the end of onboarding so as to build trust leading up to it. There is also an option to skip entering this information. We defaulted the weight to be close to the average of a U.S. woman.
ONBOARDING • I limited the range to 12 choices to prevent users from feeling overwhelmed with options, but testing revealed that the onboarding process was fun, and users wished they could continue scrolling to select more preferences. The visual design and relatability of the options helped with making it an engaging process.
ADVICE TYPE • Users weren’t reading the instructional copy on top, likely because of how the UI was laid out: the eyes and fingers went straight to the buttons, and because the options were displayed in a binary layout, the design suggested "this or that." The tendency was to select one option and move on, but prior research suggested that both types of style advice were sometimes desired. We added a third button of “both,” streamlined the instructional copy, and altered the layout so that the eyes would be more drawn to the top of the screen so users would read in a top-down fashion, and even if they didn't read the instructions, it made the "both" option apparent.
CONSULTATION PRICING • I did an A/B test on the Stylist's Rates pricing format and option B got the most votes, surpassing A and C by almost 3 times. What I learned is that breaking down a price unit that isn't useful or realistic could make users lose trust in the product, with the perception that the pricing format is trying to deceive them. Because realistically, no session will only last one minute. B was also favored because it saved users a step from having to do the math of what a 10-minute session (a realistically timed session) would cost them. The detailed pricing copy below the price in option B is also more clear than in option C.
I discovered an untapped market and business opportunity when I put a call out for volunteers for a practice style session. An email went out to listserves offering free style advice (people love free stuff) in exchange for their time to be interviewed about their styling needs and to work with a stylist. The needs were plenty and varied, and confirmed that there is a demand for quick advice, as well as longterm style services. I learned about use cases that I never would have expected which created opportunity for added value of Tipster by offering tiered services and a video feature. I also learned that the role playing method of research and testing was essential for timing Instant Advice interactions and Consultation sessions, which allowed me to work with the UI designers to automate certain steps and to refine the user journey.