How I discovered my girlfriend applies UX Design methods as a Fashion Designer

We all know it: user experience isn’t just applicable to digital products. It can be applied to a physical object, a conversation, or a vacation through user research, rapid ideation, and other methods.

As a UX Designer who worked in the same space as his fashion designer girlfriend for a few months, I discovered numerous similarities between our design methodologies. This real-world-product example helps understanding how UX design methods can be useful to create a product your users will love.


Model “Solé”, Mala Swimwear.

Let me start with introducing my girlfriend’s fashion brand Mala Swimwear: created in 2015, it started as a side project and is now a full-time job for her. She designs everything by herself, from the conception to the delivery.

The brand has 3 key values: Quality, Feminine and Mexican.

Mexico shines via her collections - thanks to iconic colors, textures and designs.


Personas

The bathing suits she’s creating are for her customers — women from 18 to 45. But it doesn’t mean that the customers she will deal with are only women. It is sometimes the boyfriend, the brother or the father who is seeking a nice gift to offer. This is why her three main personas are identified as:

  • Ameli: 23 years old, she likes having some quality products in the middle of her essentials.
  • Regina: 57 years old, local products are her favorites because she feels proud of them and wants to encourage her community.
  • José: 26 years old, he wants to find the perfect gift for his girlfriend just by browsing her Instagram likes.

More than potential customers, those people are really close to the concept of Persona that we commonly use in UX. They represent the real life people who will have an experience with Mala Swimwear. And this is why they should be considered at each step of the process.

User Interviews

Making a good looking product isn’t easy. But making a product that users will enjoy is even harder. Knowing more about your user before designing helps to get you in the right direction.

This part is qualitative and informal in her process: discussions with past customers and potential new users happen all the time and create a lot of data points. It gives her an idea of what her users are looking for; most of the time without even being themselves aware of what it is exactly.

In a traditional UX process, user interviews are a key tool to point out what the problem statement is. Most of the time, it could be more formal, as a 30–45 minutes interview and with a script to reproduce the same interview from 3 to 8 times to ensure a consistent, unbiased set of data.

Mood boards

Let’s talk about emotion.

The Wow-effect of a product depends directly on the emotion it will produce. By using the right color, the right shape and the right feeling, the job is almost done.

To reach the targeted emotional response, she groups a collection of assets intended to communicate the style of Mala Swimwear and the specific style of a model. Sometimes in a Pinterest board, sometimes as a patchwork in a notebook. It’s produced considering the discoveries from user interviews.

In UX, the discoveries from user interviews are gathered in Affinity Diagrams. If the mood boards aren’t usually used, UX designers could get inspired by this method to focus on textures, colors, and inspirations.

Sketches

This was the obvious part!

She sketches bathing suits as we sketch any digital product using rapid ideations. First drawings are made quickly and only give an overview of the shape it would have. Some sketches even present crazy ideas; impossible to build, but inspiring for the rest of the process. Sketches after sketches, there are less and less alternatives, more and more details.

Wireframes

Once the sketches resulted in a satisfying design, it’s time to transform a two-dimensions idea into a three-dimensional pattern.

All the wireframes focus on the shape. There is no information about the texture, the color or the visual details. It is purely a construction of the basic shapes that will create the global shape.

When prototyping a digital solution, it’s really common (if not systematic) to create wireframes. No colors or UI details here, the only purpose is to focus on the structure.


Conclusion

If user experience can be considered a “young” topic, only consciously considered for the last 20 years or so, a UX designer can easily apply user experience principles here and there with various methodologies.

But since I learned the principles of UX design from Wizeline UX Academy, I’ve begun to see how UX principles and methods are used everywhere — and are basic methods of designs used by designers in many professions, such as fashion or architecture.

In learning the methodologies and processes of our design cousins, we can continue to improve and expand upon user experience for the products we build today.