kho - Mobile App Design

Help people impulsively identify and purchase garments while also keeping mobile shopping a social activity

What Is kho
kho is a fashion discovery mobile app that aims to integrate one of the most integral aspects of shopping (according to my research) into it - the social aspect. The USP of this product is that users can easily identify garments and accessories that they see in magazines, TV shows and even on someone walking on the streets and then buy it instantly through this app.
While that is the core functionality of kho, in my research I identified many aspects of shopping that currently do not have a digital representation. These include seeking validation from friends and family before making a purchase, advice from fashion experts, and the massive influence celebrities and pop culture have on our personal style.
kho visualizes a future where fashion discovery is convenient, quick and social.
My research led to 32 insights which I coalesced into 4 broad categories: 1) Personal style is influenced by others, 2) Shopping should be a fun experience and should not feel like going through an archive, 3) Shopping is often done under many constraints (time, money and availability) and that 4) Dependability of a brand is what makes people go back again and again.

Final list of features in the app
In the image above I have showcased some of the design ideas that I decided to move forward with, from the 32 insights that I had from my research process.
People are really dependent on their friends and family to give them validation before moving forward with a purchase. Users also learn from fashion bloggers, Instagram and designers about the latest trends. These two insights had the most emphasis by users in my research, so I decided to highlight these in the final app.
This took the shape of two features: 1) polling your friends to get feedback before making a purchase and 2) a chat-bot virtual assistant named 'kho' - the fashion ninja who the user can ask basic questions in times of doubt. This could eventually turn into a combination of the chatbot and hired professionals helping customers out through the app, when there is funding for such a feature.
People constantly seek validation from friends and family before making purchases 
While I have listed the features that finally made it to the app, the focus point still remains impulsively identifying garments and accessories and enabling a smooth interaction for users to make that purchase.
Users indicated being influenced by friends, celebrities, fashion experts and pop culture
Investigation Phase
Secondary Research

One major reason I chose this exercise over other options is that I rarely shop, and hence I had very little bias going into this problem space.
I dove in by reading on user's shopping behaviour and doing an extensive competitive analysis of the players in the market trying to solve this problem. I learnt that while a lot of apps are trying to solve the problem, none of them have successfully done it. The primary reason for this is the underlying technology. The image analysis technology and database of images just has not  reached it's peak. This problem can be solved by using machine learning, neural networks, and deep learning in the future.
Most apps are focusing on the impulsive-identification aspect of this problem space, and most ended up looking like archives. One major insight I derived from my research was that users want shopping to be an experience and do not enjoy a website/app that looks like an archive of thousands of garments. Another insight was that users rarely use such apps on their phone owing to the small nature of the screen.
This directly informed my design, wherein I focussed on the social aspect of fashion influence and isolating the apps use to discovery and purchase rather than an endless catalog of garments where users get lost and eventually give up.
Competitive analysis
Interviews & Guerrilla ResearcH

My secondary research informed me that the majority of the users of such apps were female and in the age range of 17-25.  I spent a day doing guerrilla research and recruiting women who fit my target audience.
I interviewed 7 users for 30-40 minutes each.
Some of the most important question I sought answers to are listed below in the activity sections. Other questions I asked were to do with how many brands do people shop at most frequently, what problems do they face in online shopping (fit, returns, etc.) , how do they look for a design/pattern that they have in their mind, and how much trust do users place with online shopping.
Left: Conducting activities and interviews
Right: Interview script

As part of my interviews, I opened with a "What's on your Radar?" activity to open up users to talk about their fashion choices comfortably. I asked the users to point to the sources to which they turn to for each section of the radar diagram.
The sections/questions were: 1) How do you discover fashion trends, clothes you want to buy?
             2) Where do you turn to for fashion advice/help/inspiration?
             3) What makes you want to shop on mobile/online?
What's on Your Radar Activity that I conducted in my interviews
Affinity Diagram

Next, I had to sort the huge amount of data I got from my interviews. I chose to do an affinity diagram exercise to visually interpret and organize the data and enable me to see trends and patterns in it.
Affinity diagram exercise to visually interpret data and see patterns
Final affinity diagram
Insights and Design ideas

The above exercise led to 3 insights from my data which were further clubbed into 4 broad categories as mentioned earlier.
The most important insights were about brand loyalty due to dependability of fit and quality, wanting to know what users are buying before buying it, the fact that shopping is dictated by many constraints (time, money and availability), price is a major factor, people shop online because the website did half the job of curating for them, users value good quality service above all else, shopping is a personal experience as opposed to looking at an archive of thousands of garments, users want shopping to be simple and not overwhelming, users need validation from friends and family and that pop culture and celebrities influence their personal style.
Closer look at affinity with insights and design ideas (small grey notes)
IDEA Generation Phase
From these insights I generated 40 ideas and rated each in terms of level of importance from the users point of view and difficulty in terms of implementing it.
Generated 40 ideas

I identified two personas to inform my design from here on.
The persona on the left is Katherine a 21-year-old college student who is still discovering her style, is influenced by her friends and follows celebrities on Instagram for inspiration.
The persona on the right is Julie, a 35-year-old architect who knows her style and comfort zone, tends to buy clothes from the same 4 brands, her style is influenced by her family and is constantly on the lookout for new clothes.
Prototyping Phase
Paper Prototypes
Initial paper prototypes to see how each screen should look and how the app should flow
Navigational Maps
First navigational map to visualize a user's journey
Breaking down the user's journey
I decided to dumb-down the story I wanted to tell into the basics. The above is the journey I'll be showing in my prototype
Final Navigational Map
Final navigational map of one user's journey through the app from identification to purchase
Other features
Paper prototypes of other features in the app: Profile, auction of everyday clothes of celebrities, feed and kho - the chatbot
User Test
Using the POP app for iPhone, I quickly user tested my paper prototype with 1 user. There were a number of changes made after this. The user was confused by the order of icons, how the wishlist button worked and did not understand the polling your friend icon as it stands right now.
Lo-fi Wireframes

Next, I created lo-fi prototypes and decided on certain design guidelines for our hi-fi prototypes in the process.
Building Phase
Hi-Fi Prototypes

Using Sketch I created hi-fi prototypes for the final app design.
Impulsively identifying a garment, getting feedback from friends and then buying it
Other Features

To illustrate the above journey in greater detail I used Flinto to create animations and transitions to test how my prototype looked in an actual device.
Clicking a picture and identifying dress
Polling friends to get their feedback
Purchasing item
If I had more time I would have...
1) Spent more time doing research and preferably done a full contextual inquiry, maybe in the form of a shop-along to understand how users shop.
2) Created storyboards for different ideas and tested them with users.
3) Thoroughly user-test my prototype with more users.
4) Conducted a more extensive competitive analysis since there are a lot of players in this space.
5) Spend more time generating ideas.
6) Spend much more time on designing the final app and interactions and do at least two more iterations with user testing.
I would like to thank and give credit to Nicholas Morand, Anand A Nair, SimpleIcons, Connie Chau, Icomatic, Creative Stall, Jose Compos, PCMPixels, Daniel Stroh, Hysen Drogu, lionlionleo, Joaquin Soenz, Jerry Kim, Harrison MacRae, Oliver Kittler, Saloni Sinha, artworkbean and eightemdi for creating the wonderful icons that I have used in this design exercise.
kho - Story behind the name
While brainstorming for the name I wanted something that would represent the act of discovery and also serve as a name for the virtual chat assistant in the app (the fashion ninja).
The hindi word for discovery is khoj, and so I shortened that word to make it so that it could also be the name of a cute ninja too - kho. 
This was an individual project on which I spent around 20 hours, over 1 week's time.

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