From high-touch to hands-off hair extensions

UX/UI Responsive Web Design for RPZL. 2018.

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

When we were introduced, RPZL had already established themselves locally as the first walk-in luxury, high-touch hair extension salon in the heart of the Flatiron District. Customers were happy and business was great, so much so that they were eager to expand to the digital market.

Lisa and Monica, RPZL's founders, approached Mango Concept for aid, in order to define and develop their first e-commerce presence. As the lead of this endeavor, I formulated the plan to create the best experience for their users through phases of discovery and research, rounds of design, and then ultimately managing the development and deployment of the new site.

rpzl-interior-counter

Interior counterspace at RPZL: clean, minimal, luxury. 

To understand RPZL's business, I entrenched myself in it as much as possible. I spent time as a fly on the wall during my contextual inquiries, observing the managers, stylist, and customers at both RPZL and other salons.

rpzl-interior-salon

The salon bar at RPZL, where I observed client-stylist interactions during my contextual inquiry. 

Customers were well-versed about their extensions, but still relied on the expertise of the stylist when it came to color and length. Despite the high price point, customers were unfazed, an indication that the level of luxury came with a matching clientele.

Most importantly, customers felt comfortable in the RPZL environment. Chic and spacious, the salon sold new and old clients alike on the quality of their purchase and the benefits for their future selves.

Competitive analyses revealed a number of ways to simulate this comfortable purchasing process on the web, be it through full transparency, educational media, or slimming the process down into a few digestible steps. Our answer lay somewhat in the middle of it, with one additional aspect: putting more faith in the customer.

rpzl-research-report

Competetive Analyses from my research report. In conjunction with Personas, User Journeys, Task Analyses, and more, the report offered feature recommendations and design direction. 

RPZL's regulars are smart. They know what they want, and they don't need a tutorial or hand-holding. In our discussions with salon patrons, we found that many of them felt more comfortable when our prototype spoke to them in technical terms, rather than getting descriptive and flowery like the competitors did.

A slimmed three step shopping process was our framework to capitalize on this insight, getting seasoned customers in, out, and on with their day. The three steps followed the three variables of an extension: clip-in or pony, color, and length. With a handful of clicks, we were offering New York luxury extensions across the country.

rpzl-wireframes

The first pass of Hi-Fi wireframes. Here is shown the user journey following our 3-step process: picking weight, color, and length, followed by the cart. 

While this satisfied the bread and butter customers, we wanted an open door for those who were curious about purchasing for the first time. Educational opportunities were presented within the site, easy to dismiss for our seasoned pros but handily available to newcomers. Additionally, an option to send a photo of your hair to stylist was included for those who found themselves wavering about which color to choose.

Heavy emphasis was placed on space for imagery, utilizing a minimal color palette so that the photography could shine above it. While not in charge of content production, I made recommendations in the mockups that would match the style and direction of my designs.

rpzl-visual-design

Many iterations led to the final Visual Design, save for the stock images shown. Here, more emphasis was placed on space and an airy layout, while adhering to the 3-steps. 

This was one our larger e-commerce builds. After providing redline documentation, I assumed the role of PM and collaborated with the dev team. Following rounds of testing and walkthroughs with our client, we officially launched RPZL's store in April of 2018.

Retrospective

Looking back and looking ahead

The largest and most frustrating issue surrounding this process was simply getting content. Our contract did not involve production, internal or otherwise, because RPZL wanted to handle it on their own. Thus, despite having completed designs for weeks, we were unable to push forward since we had to wait for the imagery. In the end, we had to use their old content that was ill-fitting for the web. It was a learning moment for me, seeing just how drastic my design's quality dropped without the proper imagery. Going forward, I knew how much more emphasis to place on content during client onboarding.

RPZL

Team credits

Project Lead & Designer — Zach Dorsett
Client Management — Bobby Cassely 
Visual Design — Heather Dega 
Asset Creation — Ben Rude 
Developer — Vic Lam
Developer — Paris Mastorakos

See the website at www.rpzl.com

Copyright © 2019 Zach Dorsett