Share & Wear
I was tasked with designing an app that would help people figure out what to wear to an event. Since this topic was broad, I narrowed the scope of this challenge: How could I help women decide what to wear when attending a wedding as a guest?
I had a four day timeline for this design challenge. So I focused on creating a high-level app concept, and only mocked up wireframes for one key user flow.
The results from testing were very positive - so I'm looking forward to fleshing out more details for my app. The design highlighted here served as a spark for a larger work in progress.
Step 1: Discovering how women decide what to wear
I talked to five women about how they pick what to wear to a wedding. We discussed:
What they wore to recent weddings and why they wore it
How they interpret dress codes
The role personal style plays in their outfit decision
Ways they use technology in the process
Wearing something old vs. buying something new
Technology & Contextual Inquiry
All of the interviewees used technology in their decision process, either to shop for dresses or to ask friends for their opinions on particular outfits. One woman walked me through how she uses Rent the Runway to rent dresses for special occasions, while another shared some of her Facebook posts asking friends for feedback on potential dresses.
Step 2: Identifying the dress dilemma
Difficulties in finding the right dress
The interviewees faced several stressors while searching for the perfect dress (none wore separates to weddings). A few of their worries:
Dress code: "I want to make sure I'm at the right level of formality for the venue."
Culture: "For a Chinese wedding, don't wear red, black or white. The bride wears red."
Weather: "I went to a Nashville outdoor wedding in November, and it was 30 degrees."
Aesthetics: "I tend to wear a lot of black. I like how I look in black."
Budget: "I'm trying to save money, so I don't want to buy something and never wear it again."
And above all, women couldn't get caught wearing a dress they'd been seen in before. Dresses needed to be (or appear to be) new.
Users search for that one special dress that's just right for the wedding they're attending. But they struggle to find it within their closets or shopping budgets.
Step 3: Solving the problem by examining existing behavior
Borrowing & Renting Behavior
Some women found the right dress at an affordable price by borrowing dresses from friends, while one interviewee used Rent the Runway for nearly all her wedding guest dresses. But these approaches were not perfect solutions: Renting often costs over $100, and it requires luck to find a friend with a dress that's both the right size and style. So I set out to create an app that improved the experience of borrowing dresses by facilitating dress sharing between people in the same city.
Because I was on a limited time-frame, I focused solely on creating the user flow for someone searching for a dress to wear. Before sketching screens, I thought through what tasks this person would need to do:
Filter dresses by size, length, color and location
Select the dates they would be borrowing the dress
See reviews of dresses by previous users
View photos of the dress, plus info like the designer and fabric type
Save their favorite dresses
Share dresses with their friends via text or social media
Request dresses from owners
Organizing my thoughts on a whiteboard
Step 4: Sketching, testing & improving a paper prototype
I wanted to get speedy feedback on the concept, flow and structure of my app idea, so I quickly sketched and tested a paper prototype. Working in low-fidelity allowed me to immediately make changes to my screens and test new iterations - creating rapid improvement in my prototype.
Version 1 of my paper prototype, which demonstrates how a user would search for a dress to borrow
Key Improvement #1: Formality Filter
Initially, I didn't ask users how formal of a dress they were looking for. Based on my research, I thought dress length could serve as a proxy for formality. This was true for some users, but others wanted to be able to filter by both length and formality. So I added a screen to account for this need.
Key Improvement #2: Results Screen
My first results screen showcased only one dress at a time, veering away from typical e-commerce shopping patterns to focus on having larger visuals. However, this was confusing for users. I updated my design to follow a more expected user interface pattern.
Key Improvement #3: Selecting dates
In my first flow, users didn't enter the dates they needed a dress until later in the process. During testing, I learned that users only wanted to see dresses that were guaranteed to be available the day they needed them. I rearranged my flow to ask about dates to earlier in the search process.
Step 5: Designing user interfaces in high-fidelity
To keep consistent with Share & Wear's purpose, I wanted the aesthetics to convey a sense of cheery elegance. I achieved this by using a combination of simple layouts, modern fonts, playful iconography, and soft neutrals - with pops of bright blue and dusty rose for a lighthearted touch. Below, four important screens from the perspective of Jen - a 29 year old searching for a dress to wear to a sorority sister's wedding.
Jen has a Share & Wear account. So when she opens the app, she'll choose which function she's interested in: uploading a dress to share or searching for one to borrow.
Jen enters the date she needs her dress - and how far she'll travel to pick it up. For clarity, the screen has iOS elements (in the Share & Wear colors) that Jen is familiar with.
Jen has selected that she's looking for a cocktail dress, as signified by the blue outline. The silhouette buttons ensure that she knows how the app categorizes dress styles.
There's a lot of information available about each dress. Segmented controls create a clean UI and allow Jen to easily navigate amongst the content categories.
Comments from testers included "I'd definitely use this" and "I love it!" This has inspired me to keep working on the project. Next, I'd like to consider the motivation for sharing a dress on the app.
Curious about Share & Wear? Have an idea on how I can improve it?