UX Case Study on Environmentally Friendly Fashion

I was taught at an early age to reuse, recycle, and narrow my carbon footprint as much as possible. I learned to make small and medium decisions, often, for the betterment of our Mother Earth. So when my team was given the prompt to help improve the User Experience of a site called Eco-Stylist, I was immediately grabbed.

This case study includes the works of Thomas Reece Holleran (Interaction Lead), Wendy Reid (Project Lead), and me, Nora Pirsch (Research Lead).

We worked together to build a strong case on why one should seek to shop sustainably.

OUTLINE: Taking Eco-Stylists mission to heart, we conducted research, discovered insights, built a prototype, led usability tests, polished our mid-fidelity prototype, and discussed our suggestions for the future of Eco-Stylist.

We started February 9th 2021 and ended February 25th, 2021. 2 weeks and 2 days, during which an ice storm almost broke Texas (I live in Austin).

THE MISSION

Dress like you give a damn: the act of looking sharp without compromising your values. Eco-Stylist’s mission is to help you do that.

First, we dissected the recently launched site with detail. We had assumed that it was a site where you could shop for clothes, but we were wrong. It is more of a hub, to promote eco-friendly brands, with an emphasis on personal styling, and curiously, only focusing on men’s wear. We struggled with some of the navigation on the site, and it was also unclear what the call to action was on several of Eco-Stylists pages. Their message is powerful and we wanted to help them build a strong website that complimented that message.

Our team decided that interviewing potential users of Eco-Stylist, would help us get a deeper insight on what consumers need in a product/site like Eco-Stylist. We posted a survey on several social media sights to filter out our audience and narrow down some interviewees. Success! We interviewed a total of 15 men and women, between the ages of 23 and 79.

“The price is a little bit more than you might pay someplace else, but it’s just a lifestyle choice.”

It was a Monday afternoon, when our team got together, remotely, to synthesis our research/interview answers, through affinity mapping on an online collaboration platform.

Research Findings and Personas:

We noticed a pattern that 100% of our interviewees donate their clothes when they are finished with them. HOWEVER, we decided not to solve for this in our prototype, because it wasn’t necessarily a problem. Our interviewees feel good about donating locally and they are directly helping their community, so we decided to not fix what is not broken.

In hindsight, this was probably an issue in the questions we asked our interviewees. Being the research lead, I felt responsible and am impatient to learn more about conducting better interview techniques.

We saw further patterns where most of our users would prefer a 1 on 1 stylist session, rather than computer generated style advice. We also understood that the challenge of getting Eco-Friendly brands into the forefront of consumers minds, when they are ready to make a clothing purchase, is something we wanted to focus on in our ptotoype.

From this, our 3 HomePage buttons became clear.

SHOP SUSTAINABLE COMPANIES. STYLE ME. DISCOVER.

Before we designed any further, we felt it necessary to build a couple user personas, to keep our users, fresh in our minds as we decided what the site needed to be.

THE PROBLEM:

Individuals who need help with their personal style and at the same time care for the environment, need a better way to shop/get styled in an ECO friendly way, because they are not sure where to find clothing companies with sustainable values.

Our users are passionate about reducing their carbon footprint and want to look good doing it.

Early sketch of the homepage. Artist: Thomas Reece Holleran

SKETCHING:

Our team collaborated in an exercise called Sketch Studio, where the purpose is to draw FAST. We each had 5 minutes to complete 6 to 8 rough sketches of a part of the site that we wanted to solve for. This sketch came from our 3rd round of Sketch Studio.

These are the 2 main problems we wanted to focus on solving for in our prototype. These images show the steps the user would take to navigate through the site. Solving for Booking a 1 on 1 stylist session and Eco-Friendly Brand awareness.

Wireflows for what booking with a stylist could look like

First Draft of the Prototype:

Image of the first Homepage in Axure

We thought we were keeping it simple, but we find out quickly that the addition of the pictures and bright colors were just confusing the testers. Here are some findings from our first round of Usability Testing.

We took the feedback to heart and immediately integrated some changes to our prototype. The first change we made were to the name of the 3 buttons on the homepage and also polished the logo and navigational bar on the top.

All 3 of our testers had trouble finding WHERE to Book a Stylist. So we made it more clear. Simply changing the buttons to “Start Here” to “Book Now”, made all the difference.

CHANGE TO:

After our second round of Usability Testing, it was very clear that our big bright colored pictures were getting in our users way of navigating the site. So before handoff, we took out some of the pictures, made most of the site black/white, unless it was a call to action for the user, and the result looked like this:

A 7 min video taking you through our mid-fidelity prototype. Voice/creator: Thomas Reece Holleran

Next Steps

Like I said in the beginning, I am very passionate about the subject of sustainability. I want to do my best to highlight the companies that are putting effort into being part of the solution, not part of the problem. My team and I believe that Eco-Stylist has a true place in the fashion industry and styling world and the website should reflect that in the future. I think we came up with a good start to redesigning the site, but the work is not done.

We would like to expand our user research to include the “shopping” part of the site and make it more user friendly.

Clean up our prototype, including changing the sequence of steps to take to book a stylist. With further talk, we think a short questionnaire should happen BEFORE the site suggests which stylist session to book, with an option to other “packages” on the same page. And then conduct more usability tests.

We want to personalize the experience of the questionnaire and the site in general.

We have big hopes and dreams for Eco-Stylists future and maybe even a little more awareness for eco-friendly shopping through this case study!

ECOStylist “Dress like you give a damn”

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