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DiscoverCompetitor AnalysisUser InterviewsDefinePersonas, Journeys and FlowsProblem DefinitionDevelopArchitectureWireframesIterateUsability TestingSolution
InkWell prototype screen for saved inspirationInkWell prototype search screenInkWell prototype onboarding screenInkWell prototype screen for searching tattoo artistsInkWell prototype screen for an artist profile
Sample of InkWell prototype screens

InkWell

Role: UX Designer

Overview

The goal of this project was to create an application which would help users explore tattoo inspiration and find an artist to execute the user’s idea.  The process of choosing a tattoo design can be emotional and for some users, requires a fair amount of time investment and trust in a tattoo artist. Throughout this project, I sought to explore and improve the experiences people have while finding a tattoo, getting a tattoo, and after they’ve received a tattoo.

Low fidelity of the page that shows up when users are browsing inspiration for tattoosLow fidelity wire frame of the inside of a user's folder where they've collected ideas for tattoos.Low fidelity wire frame of the main artists page. Users can see a list of tattoo artists and some of their work at a glance. Low fidelity wire frame of an artist profile. Users can see images of the artist's work, their social media links, and contact or book the artist.Mid fidelity of the page that shows up when users are browsing inspiration for tattoosMid fidelity wire frame of the inside of a user's folder where they've collected ideas for tattoos.Mid fidelity wire frame of the main artists page. Users can see a list of tattoo artists and some of their work at a glance. Mid fidelity wire frame of an artist profile. Users can see images of the artist's work, their social media links, and contact or book the artist.Mid fidelity of the page that shows up when users are browsing inspiration for tattoosHigh fidelity wire frame of the inside of a user's folder where they've collected ideas for tattoos.High fidelity wire frame of the main artists page. Users can see a list of tattoo artists and some of their work at a glance. High fidelity wire frame of an artist profile. Users can see images of the artist's work, their social media links, and contact or book the artist.

Discovering the Problem

I began this project by taking stock and doing some research. In addition to the project brief, which is summarized above, I looked to gain some insight by performing a competitive analysis. This gave me a good idea of what’s currently available to the audience and some insight into the problems that other products had addressed.

The Audience

The target audience for this project is people between the ages of 25-40. InkWell will be geared towards the mature and insightful individual who is cultivating a piece of work that represents who they are.

Competitor Analysis

To help further explore the problem and possible solutions, I conducted competitor research.

Tattoodo, is a potential competitor which offers a way for users to collect tattoo inspiration, get information about tattooing, and find artists and studios. Tattoodo is a particular meaningful competitor because it attempts to address some of the emotional issues that users have while finding a tattoo.

Cursory SWOT Analysis

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  • Allows users to save tattoo inspiration, read about relevant tattoo topics, browse artists and studios, and book tattoo appointments all in one place
  • Publishes a lot of tattoo-related content- videos and articles addressing a wide variety of topics like tattoo trends, artist highlights, and guides for frequently used questions
  • Strong standing in the app store
  • High ratings
  • No cost
  • No advertisements
  • Artist buy-in
  • Lack of overall participation. Despite the number of artists and studios participating, content feels shallow which means that participants are not active in uploading their work.
  • Inspiration is almost exclusively images of tattoos.
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  • Growth of participation from artists and studios for a deeper pool of inspiration
  • Improve marketing strategy
  • Lower entrance barrier for artists or increased incentive for participation
  • Apps like Instagram and Pinterest offer more variety in inspiration.
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Strengths
  • Allows users to save tattoo inspiration, read about relevant tattoo topics, browse artists and studios, and book tattoo appointments all in one place
  • Publishes a lot of tattoo-related content- videos and articles addressing a wide variety of topics like tattoo trends, artist highlights, and guides for frequently used questions
  • Strong standing in the app store
  • High ratings
  • No cost
  • No advertisements
  • Artist buy-in
Weaknesses
  • Lack of overall participation. Despite the number of artists and studios participating, content feels shallow which means that participants are not active in uploading their work.
  • Inspiration is almost exclusively images of tattoos.
Opportunities
  • Growth of participation from artists and studios for a deeper pool of inspiration
  • Improve marketing strategy
  • Lower entrance barrier for artists or increased incentive for participation
Threats
  • Apps like Instagram and Pinterest offer more variety in inspiration.

Competitor Analysis Documents

Image of all the sticky notes taken during each user interview
Observations and participant comments from user interviews were analyzed and sorted into basic categories

Some insights gained from the research:

Users already have the ideas of what they want in their heads. They use tattoo images as a sounding board. They look for similar tattoos to see if it looks right on the body or if they stylistically like how something was done.

“I’m looking for something that’s attempting to convey the meaning that I’m looking for.”


In general, users seemed not to know exactly how they were going to convey their ideas to their artists. There was consensus that it should be an evolving conversation.

“I feel like the next one [tattoo] that I want is really complicated and I’m struggling to figure out how to do that.”


Users don’t view the actual act of getting a tattoo as emotional, however they do view the content as having emotional ties to their lives.

“[for me] they’re pictographs of emotional things, but a tattoo is symbolic of the emotions, but the act of getting a tattoo itself is not emotional.”


No single inspiration app allows users to record all their inspiration (screenshots, notes, pins, google search results, pictures taken on the phone), so users tend to keep their inspiration in a number of different places.

User Interviews

At this point, I had a lot of questions for potential users about what they’re looking for when searching for a tattoo and tattoo artist.  To answer these questions and gain more (hopefully unforeseen) insight into the user, I conducted user interviews.

My interview goals were the following:

  1. Determine how users currently source tattoo inspiration
  2. Find out functionalities users want in a tattoo app
  3. Discover user views and expectations towards the relationship between a tattoo artist and a client

Participants chosen met the following criteria:

  • Within the target audience of 25-40
  • Has tattoos or is currently planning a tattoo
  • Actively use technology to problem solve (so that participants mirror potential users)

A sample of some of the questions asked:

  1. Where do you take your tattoo inspirations from?
  2. How often do you search for or look at tattoo examples?
  3. What are things you look for or intend to look for as you choose your next tattoo artist?
  4. What features would be most important to you in a tattoo planning app?

Defining the Problem

User Personas

Personas were created by analyzing research outcomes and identifying relevant common and overlapping sentiments.

During research, I discovered that user needs didn’t fluctuate very much with age, so I didn’t feel that it was necessary to create an older persona. This makes sense, once you hit your mid-20’s, your prefrontal cortex is more fully developed and your decision making becomes less erratic.

User Journey Maps

User journey maps were created. The scenarios chosen reflected the most common concerns showed by participants during interviews.

User Flows

User flows were also created and gave a better idea of some of the screens which would be needed for users to complete tasks.

Based on everything learned so far in the project, the following problem statement was devised. In addition, I identified some of the issues users identified and potential solutions to those problems.  

Problem Definition

Problem Statement

  • Our tattoo-seeking user needs a way to collect and organize all their ideas and inspirations for possible future tattoo(s) in one place. They will also need to find an artist to give the tattoo and the experience the user desires. Getting a tattoo is an emotional and often permanent decision which can either allow a person to accurately express themselves or distort their self expression.
  • We will know this to be true when the app has positive reviews and when users are actively collecting tattoo inspiration and then posting reviews about the artists they used to get their tattoo.

Potential User Problems

  • Users may have a lot of tattoo inspiration, but don’t have a way to keep everything in one place with a clean way to sort, view, annotate and display their inspiration.
  • There are a lot of platforms where a user might find inspiration (Instagram, Pinterest, google search, etc.). If there is no easy way to import from other platforms, the app will be too time expensive and a user will not want to use the app.
  • Users new to tattooing may not know what styles they like
  • Users may want to know about the experience others have had (and the one they might expect to have) with a given artist.
  • Users may want to share (or not share) their inspiration with other users

Potential User Solutions

  • Provide an app that allows users to sort and store their inspiration in a design board or web of design boards.
  • InkWell should have a functionality that lets users easily gather information from other platforms as well as from the InkWell to put in their collections.
  • The app could provide resources on what each style is as well as allowing users to search through categories.
  • InkWell could allow users to share their experiences with certain artists as well as before and after photos.
  • The app will allow users make their inspiration collections public or private as well as allowing users to share their boards with specific people. This app will also allow users to export their boards into a pdf for printing or e-mailing so they can share with their friends or artist.

Developing a Solution

I used information from the journey maps, user flows,  and functional goals for the product to layout a first sitemap draft. I also went through and performed a content audit on some of the competitor sites and added logical steps/architecture I might have been missing.  I quickly sketched out some wireframes to make sure I was including all the screens I could foresee and that navigation made sense.

I then conducted a card sort using all the pages I had identified in the first sitemap. I wanted to see how a user would approach the information. Below is a visual representation of  some of the results and how I used the information to create categories to group the items together.

Similarity matrix of the card-sort results
Similarity matrix of the card sort results

I analyzed the data and revised the sitemap.

Revised sitemap
Revised sitemap

I conducted a usability heuristics review on Tattoodo, both to see if there are preexisting pitfalls to avoid and to see what potential users may be already accustomed to using.

Using all that information, I then proceeded through low-fidelity,  mid-fidelity and finally high-fidelity wireframes and prototypes.

Inspiration Main Page

Artist Profile Page

Artist Search Page

Low Fidelity Wire Frames

High Fidelity Mockup

Mid Fidelity Wire Frames

Inside a User's Inspiration Folder

Low fidelity of the page that shows up when users are browsing inspiration for tattoosMid fidelity of the page that shows up when users are browsing inspiration for tattoosMid fidelity of the page that shows up when users are browsing inspiration for tattoosLow fidelity wire frame of the inside of a user's folder where they've collected ideas for tattoos.Mid fidelity wire frame of the inside of a user's folder where they've collected ideas for tattoos.High fidelity wire frame of the inside of a user's folder where they've collected ideas for tattoos.Low fidelity wire frame of the main artists page. Users can see a list of tattoo artists and some of their work at a glance. Mid fidelity wire frame of the main artists page. Users can see a list of tattoo artists and some of their work at a glance. High fidelity wire frame of the main artists page. Users can see a list of tattoo artists and some of their work at a glance. Low fidelity wire frame of an artist profile. Users can see images of the artist's work, their social media links, and contact or book the artist.Mid fidelity wire frame of an artist profile. Users can see images of the artist's work, their social media links, and contact or book the artist.High fidelity wire frame of an artist profile. Users can see images of the artist's work, their social media links, and contact or book the artist.

Iterating and Refining

Usability Testing

The usability test conducted can be summarized as follows:

Objectives:

  • Determine the issues users experience when interacting with the current prototype.
  • Find out if users can complete basic tasks.
  • Identify pain points in the prototype and solutions which will improve the user experience

Questions to Answer:

  • How likable is the on boarding experience?
  • Is the the app navigation easy/innate?
  • Is the process of saving and referencing saved inspiration logical?
  • Does the user understand the difference in functionality between boards and saved items?
  • Is the process for reading and leaving reviews for an artist easy?

Method:

perform a combination of in-person and remote moderated tests of 6 diverse participants in the target audience

Participants were given the following tasks:

  1. Onboard and log into the app
  2. Save an item in the app and find where it was saved
  3. Search for an artist using a list of criteria
  4. Leave a review for an artist
  5. Send a tattoo board to a friend

I analyzed the data from the user testing. The below is a brief summary of the findings and examples of iterations made to one of the screens.

Summary of the main issues discovered during usability testing.
Summary of the main issues discovered during usability testing.
Revisions addressing issues 1,2 and 3, made to the Inspiration Main Screen based on usability test results.
Revisions addressing issues 1,2 and 3, made to the Inspiration Main Screen based on usability test results.

Preference Test

I also conducted a preference test for several of the screens, one of which is shown below.

Preference test for onboarding screen
Preference test summary for the first onboarding screen

After making all needed iterations based on the user testing, I also tested the prototype with a group of other designers to get their feedback. Below are three examples of how I incorporated comments into my design.

Delivering a Solution

Throughout my design process, I documented the interface decisions in a preliminary UI component style guideline.  I combed through my design to make sure that all the components followed the same interface principles.

UI style guide for color palette, navigation components and container sizesUI style guide toggles, checkboxes, buttons, and notification barsUI style guide for text fields and drop-downsUI style guide for iconographyUI style guide for typography

Prototype

Link to InkWell Prototype

Link to InkWell Prototype Video Presentation

Tools

I used the following tools during this project

Webflow IconPhotoshop IconVectornator IconNotability Icon
Webflow
Photoshop
Adobe XD
Notability

Conclusion

InkWell has a lot of growing to do. There are several aspects of the app which I would like to flesh out more completely and some functionalities which I would like to create. As always, the prototype could benefit from more user testing and revision based on the feedback.

Want to read more?

Here are two other case studies for projects I've worked on.