Foxtrot

How can we help online clothing shoppers find the best fit, every time?

Columbia University Design and Agile Project Management Engineering Lab | September 2015 – December 2015
User Research | User Experience Design | Scrum | InVision | Illustrator

This work was done under a non-disclosure agreement. I have accordingly limited my descriptions and not included images other than the gif on the home page. As time passes, I will be able to include more, but for now I am focusing on process and lessons learned.

Overview

My favorite class I've ever taken was one where I was on a small team doing user research and building a prototype for a client. We worked on a product that helps online clothing shoppers select the right size in order to reduce return costs for retailers. Our working name for the project was Foxtrot, which is how I will refer to it here.

Process

We used the scrum framework of agile development to rapidly research, prototype, and test our client's concept. This meant that we would work in weekly sprints, within which we would conduct interviews, implement feedback-driven design choices, and begin to recruit the next batch of interviewees. Working in this way, with a focus on getting a better version of the prototype in the hands of testers every week, was frenetic but fruitful. Here are some lessons I learned along the way.

Test the competition first

After we conducted some initial user research and developed a few personas, we paused to look for other products that were attempting to solve the same or similar problems as us.

There were already two main competitors in the market when we started our project. Instead of despairing, we decided to test their products with users in our first week to determine where the competition was successful and where they could improve. Doing this allowed us to go into our first prototyping session with very specific insights to supplement the general user interviews we had simultaneously conducted. By finding gaps in our competitors' products, our solution would differentiate itself right away.

Make as much as possible interactive

Instead of showing static sketches and wireframes to our users, we found that it was well worth our time to upload our prototype to InVision in order to make it interactive. Even a pen-and-paper sketch can be made interactive in this way within five minutes, which really helped us let our users test the prototypes with minimal guidance from us.

We also found that by making things interactive and digital, we could make screen recordings of the test sessions, which allowed us to go back and identify how users wanted to interact with out prototype. This was especially valuable, as it allowed team members who were not present during the test sessions to experience the process, and they often picked up on details that the rest of the team had missed.

Move quickly

The final major lesson I learned from working on Foxtrot was to move quickly. Doing so allowed us to have something new in the hands of users every week, but it also required us to improve our own processes as well. I became much better at using symbols and templates in Illustrator to rapidly create and modify wireframes/mockups. By having internal standards for our team and communicating extensively via Slack, any member was able to pick up where a teammate had left off in order to meet deadlines while balancing the rest of our courseload. At the end of the semester, we had a thoroughly researched prototype to hand off to our client, who is continuing to work on the product.

Back to my other projects.