Designing an interior design advice app for Made.com

Scope:  4 People • 2 Weeks • Remote • Conceptual 

iPhone-8-Black-Mockup

"Covid restrictions have made it impossible for interior designers to come and visit your home, therefore making it difficult to get quality advice. Made.com wants a way to be able to offer interior design advice over a virtual platform."

made-com

Made.com is a brand based in London, England, that designs and retails homewares and furniture online. This was a concept project as part of a course for General Assembly.

The Brief

"Create a new paid service app for Made.com with remote interior design advice via an online video chat platform." 

Requirements

  • Users can browse and choose designers.

  • The session should be conducted entirely within the app.

  • Users should be able to be recommended products by the specialist both during and after the call.

  • Made.com is open to guidance about whether this should be web-based or within their app, or even an entirely separate app.

  • You are free to make assumptions about the pricing of the service and the technical aspects.

  • Stretch goal: Create the web interface for the interior design specialists to be able to effectively provide support for the service.

My Responsibilities

My role (on a team of 4) was to do research, test, keep the team on the brief, and consider the user's needs. My key responsibilities included developing the user flow and designing the video chat, measuring tool, and session checklist feature. We followed the double diamond design process.

The Process

  • Competitive analysis: 17 direct and indirect competitors researched

  • Screener Survey: 62 participants helped us identify our user

  • User Interviews: 15 participants, affinity mapping helped find patterns

  • Personas, empathy maps, and experience maps helped to empathize and understand the user and their pain points.

  • Formed "problem statements" and "how might we"s to solve them

  • User flows and app maps helped us decide the structure and journey

  • 3 Design studio ideation sessions to brainstorm solutions

  • Feature prioritization to decide what to implement in the design

  • Paper prototypes: tested 4 times

  • 4 different digital wire-frames iterations: tested 14 times total

Tools

  • Pen and paper

  • Figma

  • Trello

  • Slack

  • Zoom

  • Google Slides, Forms

  • Photoshop

  • Miro

Key Deliverables

  • User research

  • Competitor analysis

  • Persona

  • App map

  • User flow

  • Wireframes/ mockups

  • Interactive prototype

  • Project presentation

Results

  • We designed an augmented reality furniture display to give users an idea of what a piece of furniture would look like in their home. 

  • Users can learn and choose from a selection of interior designers who they think best matches their style and tastes by viewing their profile.

  • There are tools to measure your room for accurate sizing and mood board activities to give the designer an idea of the users' preferences.

Keep scrolling to read how it happened.

DISCOVER

Research through competitive analysis, user interviews, and surveys helped us define our problem

Competitive Analysis

How do the competitors solve similar problems?

After looking closely at the features Made.com already has, we took a look at the competition.

  • 10 Direct competitors such as John Lewis, Wayfair

  • 3 International competitors such as KVIK 

  • 5 Indirect competitors such as Nordstrom's styling advice and other online consultations like Babylon health

BYLN_UK_WEB_download-app_850x850px_Feb20
Wayfair3d

Babylon offers a nice video chat feature. Wayfair has an attractive 3D room planner.

There was room for improvement in these solutions

  • The video chats do not include any additional tools; it is just a chat.

  • Making an appointment felt impersonal, and there was not much that would prepare the customer or make them feel understood.

  • Only basic information was available on stylists. Often the choices would be a list of names without pictures, information, or reviews.

We believed that understanding the customer beforehand would result in a better experience.

Identifying our user

62 participants answered our homeware screener/survey

  • We mentioned no amount of money; however, nearly 65% would not pay for the help.

  • Half of those surveyed value someone else's opinion when making home decorating decisions and another 44% sometimes do

  • People who are more confident in their skills are less likely to use this service.

Screen-Shot-2021-03-13-at-12.18.19
Screen-Shot-2021-03-13-at-12.18.59

Half of those surveyed value someone else's opinion when making home decorating decisions and 44% sometimes do! 

We conducted 15 different interviews with potential users

We found patterns and put our findings into themes such as cost, blockers, inspiration, experience level, habits, and what they might expect from the service.

affinitymap

Taking insights from all the interviews, we were able to see patterns on our affinity map.

We narrowed it down to two main types of users

  1. The user who knows their style but still needs advice about certain interior decisions.
  2. The user who doesn't have confidence in interior design skills due to lack of knowledge and needs more support.

Both users care about their interior aesthetics. They might not invest in an interior designer, but they see the value in extra guidance.

Reflecting on identifying our users

  • Many people we interviewed were confident in their own taste, BUT they might still ask for advice from a friend to confirm they are making a good decision.
  • People assumed the service would be expensive. Few people we interviewed have had experience with a stylist or an interior designer and are unaware of the difference a professional can make. 

We believe our users could still be someone who claims they wouldn't pay for interior design advice.

DEFINE

Persona, Problem Statement, and HMW's

Persona

Using the information we collected in our survey and interviews, we made a persona. Meet James; We based James on the user who doesn't have confidence in their interior design skills.

Persona

James is unsure how to decorate his new place. This forms a problem.

Problem Statement

We will focus on this problem going into the design studio.

"James recently bought his first flat and needs to decorate it. He knows his own style but is not fluent enough to make his own design decisions. He needs a way to seek advice from an expert so that he doesn't waste time and energy making the wrong decisions."

Ideation through Design Studio!

After we defined the problem and identified our user, we needed to consider how to solve Jame's problems. We choose three "HMW" problems.

DesignStudio

Design studio with the team using Miro.

"How might we help James decide on the perfect sofa that fits his needs?"

We considered a task with no covid restrictions, solutions:
  • Showroom
  • Samples in the mail
  • Survey
Screen-Shot-2021-01-27-at-21.57.10

Design studio #1

"How might we help James find helpful interior design advice virtually?"

Ideas to inspire confidence:
  • Professional appearances
  • Reviews
  • Portfolio and stylists bio
DesignStudio2

Design Studio #2

"How might we give James useful virtual interior design advice?"

Finally, we narrowed it down to solutions over a video call:

  • Augmented reality furniture that the designer can suggest.
  • I also considered the designers' interface to imagine their perspective.
DesignStudio3rs
Designerpov

Video chat with augmented reality furniture suggested by the stylist and the designer's perspective and interface.

DEVELOP

Developing the prototype and testing

We designed a mobile app

We believed the user would want to move about, use the virtual tools, and show the designer what they see (with the camera). A mobile app seemed to be the solution. This would need to be tested further.

Testing prototypes — Fail fast, fail often

  • We tested the paper wireframes on 4 users.
  • We designed 4 different iterations of the digital wireframes.
  • We tested them 14 times in total.
PaperWireframes

Our first wireframes were confusing.

A better way to test paper wireframes

I am always impressed by how much we learn from paper prototypes.

  • Adding humor when unnecessary can be confusing. 

  • Adding too much information is also confusing. 

  • Make sure everything has a purpose; people comment on everything.

  • I found it is best to put down what is known and what you want to be tested. 

Checklist iterations

The checklist was to help the customer feel prepared, but that wasn't the reaction received. So, I made the checklist "less daunting."

ChecklistIterations

We still believed that the tools, such as the "style board" or "measuring tool," were essential to help get the most out of the consultation.

Video chat tools

  • It was not clear that you accessed the menu via swiping-up.

  • I used an arrow to indicate the direction of movement,

  • Then I tried a message box,

  • Finally, I changed it to a row-of-dots (page swiper) to access the tools.

ARToolIterations

The final version still needs to be tested.

Testing Reflections

  • Testing a mobile app — on a computer does not yield great usability results. Gesture movements aren't as intuitive, and inconclusive data is collected. It would have been best to test the app on a mobile device.

  • Not everything Apple does is right. Using symbols and gestures that Apple uses aren't that intuitive for all users. The dots for page control, for example, usually aren't accessible. Symbols used to show things can move weren't always understood.

DELIVER

Conclusions and the Prototype

Conclusions

  • We designed an augmented reality furniture display to give users an idea of what a piece of furniture would look like in their home. When the user sees something they like, they can take a picture of it with their phone.

  • Users can learn about and choose from a selection of interior designers who they think best matches their style and tastes by viewing their profile.

  • There are tools to help measure your room for accurate sizing and mood board activities to give the designer an idea of the users' preferences or inspiration.

Next Steps

  • Conduct a contextual inquiry when showrooms open with known MADE customers.

  • Test and iterate the augmented reality function further on targeted user groups.

  • Further, refine the style board builder and test with users.

  • Redecorate our living rooms with the app MADE designers!

Personal Development

  • I learned how to test low-fidelity prototypes better by adding intentional content to be evaluated.

  • Through this project, I learned how to share research effectively to be understood by the team.

  • My team worked with great intensity. Everyone was eager to help each other once they finished something. We collaborated on lots of ideas and accomplished a lot in two weeks. 

Prototype

Feel free to click around and explore. To follow our user's journey, use the arrow keys on your keyboard to go forward➡️ ➡️⇨ or backward⬅️ ⇦.

Click around the prototype.

Prototype Video

Watch the prototype video.

Thank you for reading!

Selected Works

FLAVRUX Case Study

The Yarn PitUI Design Case Study

Grower's GroveUX Case Study

Back to top Arrow