Mannequeen/Mr. Mannequin [UXDI Project 1 Retrospective]

Mannequeen/Mr. Mannequin is a shopping app including a function for users to create a 3D model of themselves, allowing them to virtually try on clothes to see the fit before purchasing.

User Interviews

Exploration

For our first UXDI project, I was assigned the topic of ‘Shopping’ by my partner. I started with interviewing my partner but it ended up being a casual conversation with no direction, because I did not know where to begin.

Topic mapping

After our user interview lecture, I created a topic map to help me better contemplate the areas I could explore in relation to Shopping. An easy way for me was to look at all the steps in an online shopping experience in addition to Online vs. Offline, Device Used and Rewards/Promotions.

Refining questions

I started writing questions but it was challenging because at first draft I tended to come up with leading or hypothetical questions, which we had been warned against. I came up with some questions to explore users’ shopping behaviors and experiences, both online and offline.

I interviewed 6 different users, including male and female, online shoppers and non-online shoppers. I was surprised by how varied people’s shopping behaviors were because I had assumptions about other people’s behaviors. This emphasized the importance of UX Design to — doing research to truly understand your users.

The interview sessions felt unnatural in the beginning because I was thinking too much about how to ask a question and the next question already. It is better to start with “easy” questions to help interviewees start talking and thinking about the topic. Fortunately it got easier each time I interviewed someone. I knew the questions and how to lead the conversation flow, while remembering the information I was after. With each interview I refined and added to my questions.

I also learnt about different kinds of questions to ask from being interviewed by classmates. It was a Eureka! moment when a classmate asked me directly about functions I wanted. I always thought I had to come up with a function/solution on my own but I could ask users what they wanted too. The answer I got from an interviewee is the seed of my eventual app idea.

Synthesizing Research

Affinity mapping

Affinity Map created using RealtimeBoard

I was a little lost after writing key points on post-it notes because my interviewees had such diverse shopping behaviors. After I started thinking in broader, more abstract terms, and exploring underlying reasons, I came up with four groupings/trends and “I” statements:

  1. I want to know how clothes look on me accurately, even without trying it on
  2. I have an internal idea of a budget — this affects whether I buy or not
  3. I just want a efficient seamless website experience — from browsing to checking out.
  4. I want to have the options that I want

Side Note: in the future I can be more concise in my “I” statements and groupings

Developing my Problem Statement

Choosing a focus

I originally decided to address both the 1st and 3rd “I” statements, but even that was too broad to create a good app and prototype by the Friday project deadline. It is better to concentrate on effectively solving one problem than explore numerous superficially, so in the end I narrowed my focus on the 1st statement. My final Problem Statement is: I just want to know that the clothing will fit me.

I decided not to explore the 2nd and 4th statements because they seemed more of a personal preference issue, specifically dealt with by the merchandise carried by any multi-brand shop.

A representation of the decision-making process for a user browsing clothes online. Created in Axure

The 1st statement was a worthwhile problem to explore because it had a huge impact for both the e-commerce business and users. Users never know the fit when they browse products online for the first time.

For the e-commerce, it cuts off potential customers as some do not online shop because of the issue of fit.

“Always a problem of fitting — do not like the uncertainty”

Both regular online and non-online shoppers discuss fitting as a pain point. For users, whether or not returns is a pain point, it is an unnecessary hassle they have to deal with. If they make a purchase, they want the item to fit them.

Additionally, in a discussion about in-store shopping, an interviewee stated

“Even if I like choosing clothes, I don’t like the physical experience of putting clothes on and off.”

This highlights that users only want to know that clothes will fit them well.

Developing my Solution

Interviews and user feedback

In one of my user interviews, I asked a user if there was a function he wished for, and his answer caught my attention.

“If there was a mirror that could show how a shirt or pants look on me — that’d be nice.”

I instantly felt that there was something worth investigating, especially since other interviewees have mentioned fit/returns, so I asked, What if there was an app that could do that? I did not decide on this right away, but I started testing this idea at the end of subsequent user interviews. I still asked all my questions and probed any interesting topics that came up, but I would ask, “This is me testing an idea, would you see value in this function…?”

I knew I would not have enough time to test my prototype before the project deadline, so this was my optimal way to get user feedback and ensure that my idea was worth pursuing. However, I do recognize that this practice could bias interviews and prevent UX designers from staying open to other potential problems and solutions.

There was consensus that all my interviewees liked this function and saw its value, so I decided to develop it.

Solution Statement

An app function (for a shopping website) that creates a 3D model of you, allowing you to virtually try on clothes and test the fit.

Design Solution

  1. Take full body photos from 3 perspectives — front, back and side
  2. Enter basic information — height, weight and usual sizes for tops and bottoms
  3. This should be adequate information for an artificial intelligence program to create a decent 3D virtual model of you
  4. You can try clothes on and see how it fits on you!

This would depend on programmers’ ability and artificial intelligence, but I firmly believe that the technology is available. A quick Google search reveals similar services already in action or development:

Creating User Flow

Narrowing my focus

User Flow broken down into 3 parts: Entering the app, Browsing and Check-out. Created in Axure

After our user flow lecture, I used Axure to create a user flow for my app. This organized my thoughts and clarified the processes needed to complete an online shopping transaction. The possibilities of interactions seemed endless, helping me register how complex websites and apps are.

I realized I had to narrow the focus for my prototype and problem statement after creating these user flow charts. It was too natural and easy to want to add on functions, but I knew it would become messy and disorganised so I decided to focus on one core function.

I originally wanted to also explore payment and check-out options as a solution for the 3rd “I” statement (I just want a efficient seamless website experience — from browsing to checking out). This can still be seen in the check-out user flow chart but I saved that for Future Developments.

Prototyping

First sketch of prototype
Second sketch of prototype

I sketched my prototype twice before the final edition. It was intimidating to stare at a blank page, but it came together once I started drawing. It was valuable in conceptualizing and visualizing my idea. Every time I drew 1 sketch, I realized how many other functions or connections needed to be added. I also looked at other shopping apps for general ideas about organization and design. The prototype is of the female version of the app.

I uploaded photos of my final sketches to Invision to create a digital lo-fi prototype.

Digital prototype:

Presentation link:

Future Steps

  1. There should be reviews by customers — it could be really simple to entice them to answer. Did this meet your expectations? Yes/No. If no, there could be loyalty rewards if they complete a survey to help the company better understand. This is so that the AI can improve on its predictions and visualization abilities.
  2. Show close up photos of fabric as an indicator of texture. I had feedback from a user that he liked knowing the texture of the fabric, so this could be a good compromise at this moment
  3. Multiple payment options — Apple Pay/Android Pay, Paypal or Credit Card to reduce transaction details hassle. I had feedback that multiple users disliked having to enter the information (With Apple Pay/Android Pay they can pay with just thumbprint confirmation)
  4. The app should also only show product pages for items that are your size and in-stock. I had feedback from a user that he disliked sites that only show out-of-stock when you wanted to check-out and purchase a product
  5. The company could have a tailoring service since the app will have users’ body measurements. This could be used to tailor existing products, or for custom pieces.
  6. Develop strong customer service and loyalty/rewards programs to be competitive with other e-commerce sites. Branding is essential to differentiate from others
  7. Track transaction history and give suggestions based on past purchases and fit

Thanks for reading!

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