VSCO — the photographer’s favorite app

How can we make it better?

VSCO in its natural habitat

Visual Supply Company (shortened VSCO) is a photo-editing and sharing app. It lets users make quality edits in a matter of seconds. As one of my favorite and go-to apps in the art space, I set out to see what improvements could be made.

Psst…check out the full case study in my portfolio to see my entire design process.

VSCO faces from the 2016 rebrand

The Goal

In order to figure out how to make it better, I had to first find out what was difficult to use. The first step was identifying what the app can do.

The Core Functions

I made a complete list of VSCO’s capabilities and then narrowed it down to seven main functions:

  1. Import a photo from the camera roll
  2. Take a photo within the app
  3. Add a filter
  4. Make manual edits (e.g. adjust contrast and exposure, crop, etc.)
  5. Publish a photo on VSCO
  6. Publish a photo on Instagram
  7. Follow someone on VSCO

The Usability Tests

I then created scenarios that led users to complete each function. Next, I conducted guerrilla usability tests with seven individuals, taking note of their interactions.

User at SFMOMA

Results and synthesis

After completing the seven tests, I analyzed my results and recorded the pain points of each user on post-it notes. I then organized them by user and grouped them by likeness:

Pain points organized by user (left), and then pain points grouped (right)

After completing the synthesis, I uncovered four main pain points with using VSCO:

  1. Navigation — the joystick feature caused 7/7 users difficulty when moving within the app.
  2. Finding the publishing options — 6/7 users clicked the “Publish” button (to find Instagram) which has options to post to VSCO, Facebook, and Twitter. To publish to Instagram, users had to access the “share” feature which was hidden somewhere else.
  3. Operating the camera — 7/7 users struggled to find the camera (accessed through the joystick). Once taken, the camera has no indicator that it captured a photo. As a result, 3/7 users took several photos before realizing anything had happened.

Because of these pain points, 4/7 users resorted to clicking around until something worked.

Design Decisions

I decided to tackle all three pain points. This, I hoped, would take care of the overall usability, giving users the agency to click with intention.

Disclaimer: Upon a rebranding initiative, VSCO created their own font family which is unavailable to the public — I tried to get as close to their typeface as possible in my redesigns.

Existing homepage on the VSCO app. The button in the middle is a joystick — pressing and holding brings up menu on the right.

The menu

Adding a tab bar lays out the main functions of the app immediately for the user. I included the social profile and publish option in addition to the options found in the joystick.

Publishing

Clicking the publishing option on the tab bar will bring up the following menus. I have consolidated everything under the “share” function, making it a one-stop for sharing.

The camera

I also combined both the “import” option and the “take photo” option into one button (the camera on the tab bar). Since editing photos is the main function of the app, it is the center option in the tab bar.

Additional features

I made a couple extra changes based on my research results. While they didn’t have their own pain point categories, they improve the usability of the app.

Want to play with the full prototype? Follow this link for clickable fun!

Moving Forward

VSCO is a great product with a fantastic aesthetic that makes it easy to improve photos. I support VSCO’s mission — to build an artist space in a tech world dominated by social media popularity contests — and hope that they continue paving the way in this uncharted territory.

Note: I am not affiliated with Visual Supply Co in anyway, just a huge fan of their product. I am a product designer at Tradecraft seeking to help build the art space in the tech world.

Enjoyed this? Let’s chat! Email me at rjayachandran@tradecrafted.com or find me at rheajayachandran.com