Finding purpose for the mobile shopping app

UX/UI Mobile App Design for PromGirl. 2019.

UX/UI Responsive Web Design for The Woodstock NYC. 2018.

Though a prominent online store since 1997, PromGirl's first proper steps into the mobile marketplace came far behind, launching in early 2018 to little fanfare. With little more to do than purchase from a list of 1000+ products, there were few, if any, reasons for our customers to use the app over the responsive website. Those who were, though, were fiercely loyal to the brand, purchasing at far higher rates than others. The need for a redesigned experience was clear, both for current and prospective users. 

As a member of the product team, I set an initiative on the 2019 roadmap to work towards 2.0, rethinking the very purpose and benefits of a mobile app in general, and how best to bridge the best of our tried and true web experience to the phone. 

promgirl_homepage with promos

Home and category listing screen, highlighting the newest promotions and photography, in addition to traditional browsing through each category. 

While there were clear areas for improvement, we wanted to align on our top priorities. As a team, we pored over our internal metrics, surveyed the competitive landscape, and interviewed our existing users to find potential areas of opportunity. The same few notes kept popping up: there was a lack of reason to return, minimal reason to stay, and a distinct misunderstanding as to what product offerings were actually "New". In addition to a number of usability concerns from our testing, these points became our distinct priorities. 

To give our users a reason to return, we needed only to turn to our existing website for a solution. Our homepage was updated every few days, with new messaging, blog content, and photography from our company's weekly photoshoots. The apps current home screen, which was nothing but a prodcut listing page in 1.0, was to became a place for promotions, showcasing the newest products and photography, to fully encapsulate the feeling of browsing through a true listing of fashion inspiration. 

Image of wireframes designed for the PromGirl app

Wireframes from the main user flow: landing on the homescreen with a promo section, searching through a category, viewing the Product Details Page, and reviewing their shopping bag.

Past the visual communication of updates, we needed to provide more direct engagement on the app. Idle-time discovery was a clear necessity for our users, as many of them would begin their research for prom many months in advance, dreaming far ahead of the event date. For this period of discovery, we designed the first version of our speed shop feature. Face with a stack of new products, user would swipe right or left to save or dismiss a dress. Without the need for burrowing throughout our product listings, users were able to quickly amass a catalog of favorite items to decide between when prom was finally rolling around. 

promgirl_swipe to fav

PromGirl's new Speed Shop feature. Users quickly like or dislike items to create their wishlist, and amass a list of potential dresses for when the big day arrives. 

Additionally, many users were abandoning the checkout process at crucial moments, during the shipping and billing forms. At the time, the checkout process had been just one large form, asking for seemingly unnecessary oinformation, such as birthday, gender, and event date. There was a clear distate from our users regarding the endless questioning, valuing both their privacy and their time. 

We set out to eliminate all unnecessary fields. Any of that supplemental data that was desired by our marketing team, such as birthdays for coupons, would have to be acquired later on in their accounts, while remaining optional. In the process of doing so, we also shifted to a simplified 3-step checkout process, ensuring that users were aware of the time commitment while feeling comfortable with the process. 

Lastly, there were a number of accessibility concerns that I discovered in my audit of the existing product. In the final styling of our 2.0 app, extensive efforts were made to bring all text to a legible standard, while ensuring that all contrast levels met AA requirements at an absolute minimum. 


PromGirl's new checkout process, emphasizing security, and minimizing the number of steps and fields rquired to finalize a purchase. 


Looking back and looking ahead

The newest version of the PromGirl shopping app launched in spring of 2019, just in time for prom season. This was a unique challenge for me, working dual roles as a designer and manager, ensuring that the app fit our overall product goals while overseeingdesigns for the individual processes. It was exciting to work on an app with such a large MAU count, and to see the impact our improvements made. While there is always room for improvement, we were all satisfied with the end result, and looked ahead towards making those future iterations. 


Team credits

Designer — Zach Dorsett
Head of Product — Chelsea-Jean Fernandez 
Junior Associate Product Manager — Joana Avilla 

Download the app today on iOS or visit the website at

Let's Chat

Right now, I’m a Senior UX Lead for Dotdash Meredith's food vertical, while mentoring new and aspriring UX Designers on the side through ADPList.

However, I’m always happy to hear about new opportunities, meet potential collaborators, or simply grab a cup of coffee. Learn more about me, and reach out anytime. ☻

Copyright © 2022 Zach Dorsett