The Task

We had 10 days to redesign an existing mobile application of our choice, using skills and tools that we have learnt so far from the previous 2 projects.

After some careful deliberation, my team (Josh, Jeremy and I) chose the , which has a measly rating of 1.7 stars on the iOS App Store.

We found it puzzling that UNIQLO — a global retail brand known for its innovative and life-enhancing apparel — would have such a poorly reviewed app. So, we set out to investigate why this was the .

Background Research

According to a UNIQLO press release in 2014, the app was designed to:

bring the UNIQLO experience closer to consumers, while also reinforcing the brand’s reputation as the leader in both the brick-and-mortar and online retail spaces.

However, a quick look at the app’s reviews and user experience told us that none of these goals had been met.

A sample of the 1-star reviews from unhappy customers
Left: Inside the app | Right: Redirected to the mobile website

Before you continue reading, take a good look at the screenshots above. What’s your gut reaction?

….

….

If you thought: “Hey, something’s not right about this app…”, you are absolutely right!

As it turns out, the app is essentially just a launcher for UNIQLO’s mobile website. (The red footer is the only indication that the user has left the app and entered the mobile website.) No wonder it looks weird.

With our background research completed, we could now commence the redesign process.

Our Methodology

Due to space constraints, I will only be focusing on some key parts of our methodology. Let’s get right into it!

User Interviews + Usability Testing

The first step was to understand what our users thought about UNIQLO, as well as the existing app. We sought out users (both inside and outside of General Assembly) who were regular UNIQLO shoppers and/or had used the app before.

Across the 6 users we interviewed and tested, here’s what they all agreed on:

  • The app is pretty terrible. (No surprises there!)
  • They cannot believe that this app was created by UNIQLO. (A big blow to its brand reputation)
  • However, they still largely enjoyed their in-store shopping experience.

User Survey

In order to understand the bigger picture of who our users were, we created a quick survey and blasted it out to our network. Since UNIQLO has such a strong brand presence in Singapore, we were able to get 113 respondents in 3 days!

View our survey form here

Perhaps the most insightful results came from this question. It revealed to us that 99% of our users shop in-store, and only 7% shop using the app.

We realised that besides the app’s poor design, another key reason for the app’s failure was that it was being overshadowed by UNIQLO’s much larger in-store presence.

This was a major turning point in our project. We realised that in order for our app to stay relevant, it had to add value to the in-store shopping experience — or as the saying goes: “If you can’t beat them, join them.”

Affinity Mapping + Personas

By this point, we had accumulated a fair amount of both quantitative and qualitative user insights. It was time to whip out the Post-Its and synthesise our findings with an affinity map.

Next came the fun part: Creating our user personas!

A persona is a fictional, yet realistic, description of a typical or target user of the product. A persona is an archetype instead of an actual living human, but personas should be described as if they were real people.— Nielsen Norman Group

Based on the most common demographic results obtained from our survey as well as the traits of the users we interviewed, we managed to flesh out our primary persona:

Tip: Try your best to ensure that your persona’s key characteristics (e.g. age, employment status) are closely derived from your user research instead of creating it from your imagination!

Now that Julia was ‘alive and kicking’, we could use her persona to guide us through the rest of the redesign process.

Customer Journey Mapping

To create our customer journey map, we envisioned a realistic scenario in which Julia would interact with a UNIQLO store.

Left: Whiteboard draft | Right: Digitised, final version

This was a crucial step of the process as it helped us to identify Julia’s major pain points, and the concrete ways in which the redesigned app could improve her in-store experience.

Field Observation

Even though we were buzzing with many exciting ideas, we realised that a lot of assumptions had weaselled their way into our heads.

We decided to step away from the drawing board and spend some time observing how users actually shopped in UNIQLO stores.

Some photos from our field observation

In doing so, we witnessed first-hand a father trying to manage the competing demands of 1) finding what he needed in store and 2) looking after his two playful children. (They really loved those shopping baskets!)

This observation helped us understand just how difficult shopping with children can be for users like Julia, and validated our assumption that there were many opportunities to improve their in-store shopping experience — that’s where our redesigned app would come in!

This insight gave us the confidence to finalise the concept for our app.

Final Usability Testing

After many long hours spent creating our interactive prototype on Sketch and Invision, it was time to bring our creation out into the wild and test it with customers at a UNIQLO store.

We were particularly interested to see how customers would interact with our In-Store Assistant function, which was a brand new addition to the UNIQLO app. Needless to say, we were pretty nervous about it!

Our app’s footer tabs which represent its dual functionality
Asking customers at UNIQLO stores to test our interactive prototype

It took awhile to get the ball rolling because many customers were busy shopping and we did not want to disturb them. Eventually, we managed to find our “Julia” (middle-aged mum with two kids, bottom left) as well as 3 other younger participants to test our app.

To our delight, one of our participants commented that:

“…the In-Store Assistant is a feature I never knew that I needed, but actually helps me a lot!”

After tweaking the app based on the participants’ feedback and polishing up the prototype, we could finally present…

The Redesigned UNIQLO App

View our interactive prototype here — there’s a lot more to explore! 🙂

(View our presentation deck here too.)

Key lessons learnt

  1. Keep your personas alive — there were points in the project where we forgot about Julia’s persona and nearly headed down an unsuitable design path. Print it out, set it as your screensaver, do whatever you need! 😛
  2. Get rid of those pesky assumptions by returning to your users —in this case, field observation helped us immensely. And remember to observe what users DO, not what they say (the former is much more reliable!)
  3. Test early and often — we did our usability testing quite late which meant that we didn’t have enough time to incorporate all the feedback into our final design. The earlier you test, the more meaningful user-derived changes you can make!

Final Reflections

This project was definitely a challenge to execute. Unlike previous projects where the process was clearly outlined for us, we were given full autonomy to choose what tools and methodologies we wanted to use. That led to a fair amount of uncertainty and mistakes, but it was a necessary push outside of the comfort zone for us to grow as designers and I’ve gained more confidence in myself as a result.

Needless to say, I’m excited to take on the remaining 2 projects! And of course, I am immensely thankful for my teammates Josh and Jeremy — this redesign wouldn’t have been possible without all your hard work, creativity and laughter amidst the stress! 🙂



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