Originally written on 15th April 2017, in my portfolio.
This is one of the first projects I have ever worked on which was a couple of years ago. Over the time my process and skills have been refined, kindly email me to take a look at my most recent portfolio.
Deterge was an online laundry solution that solved laundry troubles for college students and anyone who needs laundry service, providing fast and economical laundry service. We were definitely solving a real problem and grew fast within a short span of 6 months.
Back in September 2015, I was in the third year of my college, was having a discussion with 4 of my classmates about the irregular and unreasonably priced laundry service that we had. We did some research and asked several other students if they would like to have an app for that, and launched Deterge Laundry. As full-time students, we didn’t want to raise the capital to purchase equipment and lease space, and it didn’t make sense for us to manage a full-time laundry business, so we decided to be the technology provider and aggregators.
It’s vital in project’s development to have a well-defined audience, that will ensure that all of the design, functionality and content decisions are targeting the right people, there are many business examples that have failed because of not understanding their audience. I made a few sample persona that fits in:
After figuring out who the audience of the project is I normally build the personas, This is similar to shaping a piece of clay. By doing this I’m creating a clear image of who the user in our audience is.
Establishing the vision
We started out with a simple goal in our minds which is to provide simple, fast and cheap laundry for students without hassle, built around student’s needs.
User research was done of more than 30 potential target users from different colleges around the area & people living around the area. Conducting interviews is essential in gathering information, throughout the years I’ve learned that the better you get at this the more useful the information will be. Knowing how to structure your questions, how to listen and how to be grateful is the key. Lot of them don’t like the hassle of the signup process and wanted easy signing up the process. To view the survey form responses, click here.
We conducted a competitive analysis to find what are similar services or apps like ours to know the competition and to understand best practices and patterns. Competitive analysis is used to evaluate how a given product’s competition stacks up against usability standards and overall user experience, it also helps understand how the major competition in your space is handling usability
The easiest way to understand behavior is through scenarios, identifying a users goals and needs and his following action steps will lead you to truly understanding why and how a user is using your product. That represents the building-block for the project development
Prioritizing the functionalities
Once I’ve completed the personas and user journeys, I started developing flows. It visualises what I’ve have learnt about how users would navigate the app, what sort of content they will need to support them in their goals and what sort of language they use to identify things.
So based on research we found out that the main purpose of the app was to request for laundry pickup. We decided to avoid registration or login as the first interaction of the app, so we kept the first screen to be the main function of the app, that is to request for laundry pickup.
I did some initial sketching on paper with pencil and pen. After some review and iteration, used XD to create detailed wireframes. The key here was to design, review and iterate until we had a smooth user experience. Google’s Material design with a little bit touch of our own that looks well in both Android as well as iOS was used as the guideline to create a slick, modern UI.
I used the Adobe XD to design the interface of the app. With symbols and text styles, it was easy to iterate the design and integrate user and client feedback. For user testing, I uploaded the preview on Adobe XD Live Preview From observation and their feedback, I re-iterated the design.
High fidelity mockups
The designs initially were quite subtle and followed the usual practices of laundry apps that were there in the market. But we eventually decided to strip down steps that weren’t needed and make it an easier experience. So we avoided using Login or Signup screen to be the first screen and replaced the welcome screen with the booking screen which is the most important objective of the user.
Evaluating and testing
Implement and Launch
Initially, we had developed a website for the service which was coded in ASP .NET frameworks and C# language, but later we replaced it with a landing page to download our mobile app. We developed an Android mobile app using IntelliJ platform Android Studio provided by Google using Java as back-end language, XML for front-end and Firebase for a database. I was part of the frontend development process and with the help of my other team members developed the app.
Branding and marketing
We got inspired by minimal text logos like that of Uber and Google which is easily identifiable without going through much graphic designing for the logo. Blue being indicative of color we decided it to be our primary color. I used Adobe Illustrator to design icons and logo.
As a part of laundry service’s user experience, the laundered clothes were packed in a reusable tote bag with personalised tag.
We came up with an online laundry solution for university students and people living around the area. We focussed on making the app easy to use and service affordable and fast in comparison to the other existing service providers. We aggregated a few small local launderers (dhobiwaale) who agreed to be a part of our service. And later we got a deal with a major laundry service provider who then was under contract with Indian Railways. With the help of their massive infrastructure and manpower, we were able to provide a fast and affordable service for everyone.
We managed to gather more than 80 weekly active users in a span of a month with just an investment of ₹30k.
People loved our service and lot of college students came in to support us. A lot of friends came in for helping hands in development and operations. A lot of students in our college were motivated to take up entrepreneurship and tried building new apps and services solving college’s problem for students. Our institute later built an incubator cell for entrepreneurship and took on the services and the tech from us to manage and develop it further.
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