The Challenge
The tattoo process is an incredibly personal and often stressful journey, especially if you feel underprepared. Disappointment in a design or an artist, anxiety of unknown pain and a lack of awareness about proper care and maintenance causes many customers to regret some, if not all of the tattoo process. Inktank aims to alleviate the stress of the tattooing process by providing all of the information customers need in one easy to use app.
User & Market Research
Prototyping & Testing
Visual Design
Pencil & Paper
My Design Process
A diagram depicting Alex's design process. The diagram shows six circles in a horizontal line. Each circle has an arrow pointing to the next circle in the line. The circles have text inside which reads as follows: circle one: Research Market Research User Research User Persona, circle two: Define the Problem, circle three: Ideate Solutions, circle four: Design and Prototype, circle five: Review and Implement, circle six: Test User Testing Analyze Data Plan Solutions. The sixth circle has a line above it which turns left and connects it back to the third circle which reads "Ideate Solutions" which shows that once testing is complete Alex returns to ideate new solutions and begins the process again until the design is perfected or the constraints of the project requires the product to be launched.
Research & Define The Problem
Understanding The Market
The tattoo process is unique to each customer. Because of this, the Inktank app needed to be flexible enough to allow customers to explore at their own pace, without overwhelming them with unnecessary information. One customer may be looking for helpful articles and information, while another may already have a design in mind and is simply looking for a great artist.
A SWAT diagram Alex created based off of a competitor called InkHunter. The diagram shows a circle at the centre divided into quarters each representing one letter of SWOT - S in purple in the top left quadrant, W in orange in the top right quadrant, O in pink in the bottom left quadrant and T in a burnt orange colour in the bottom right quadrant. Black text next to each of the letters reads: - Strengths: First into the market place with AR technology, Strong established presence, High rank in App Store (4.5 Stars, 808 Reviews) and Google Play Store (4.6 Stars, 24k Reviews, 1 million + downloads), W - Weaknesses: No online marketing strategy to be seen (SEO/SEM, Social media marketing) beyond relying on old articles and reviews, User frustration with ads, bugs and limitations caused by app monetization and search feature. O - Opportunities: AR Technology combined with more features like the ability to book appointments and search for shops and artists, Removing bugs, ads and oppressive monetization (more user friendly business model). T - Threats: New apps moving into the space with AR technology and a proper (and active) marketing strategy
In order to better understand what our customer’s pain-points were I took a look at what was already in the marketplace. I was able to identify a few weaknesses in the current offerings to build off of.
  • Too many advertisements
  • Apps don't function well
  • Poor usability
  • Oversaturated with too much information
  • Apps left users feeling frustrated & confused
Review the full report here: Competitive Analysis
User Insights
Next, I spoke with potential customers about their own experiences and pain points. Using this data I put together two user personas representing the main user groups I wanted to focus on.
User Pain Points & Needs
After analyzing all of the market and user data it was clear that in order to create a useful and successful tattoo app I needed to address the following user needs.
Functional Requirements
Finally, I used the results of my market and user research to define the parameters of the Inktank app and lay out the functional requirements users would be looking for.
Ideate & Design
Crafting The Information Architecture
The next step in my process was to build out the framework of the Inktank app by creating a site map. To refine the flow of the site map from a usability perspective, I completed a card sort test with potential users. The test helped me to better understand where users would navigate to find important pieces of information like settings, reviews and messaging features.
Card Sort Outcome
The card sort results allowed me to determine that users want to...
Designing Research-Based Wireframes
Through my market and user research I identified three vital main features our users would need. A robust search feature that offered users a variety of ways to find content, a messaging feature to contact artists and book appointments, and finally a profile page for both users and artists which would serve as a home base and a place to collect and store information.
Search Feature
Through the Inktank search feature, users are able to browse tattoo designs, artists, and articles on topics like tattoo maintenance, and tips for finding great artists. Users can search by featured and popular posts, or find artists near them by turning on location services. Artist profiles provide information like reviews from previous customers, artwork, and address info to help users make a more informed choice for their next tattoo. Each of these features helps to tailor the user's experience to suit their needs.
Message Feature
Inktank users are able to message artists directly inside of the app and can book appointments with an artist once they feel confident they've found a great fit. Users can share images of tattoo designs with the artist to make sure the style they are looking for is in the artist's wheelhouse and to help to outline pricing before a session.
Profile Feature
On their personal profile page users can save images of tattoos they love, articles they've enjoyed or want to read, and artists they want to compare. In the artist section, users can see a list of the artists they've saved, compare their ratings, and rank them in order of preference to simplify the research process.
Testing & Iteration
Usability Testing
Once I felt satisfied that my design answered the user and functional requirements it was time to test. I compiled my mid-fidelity wireframes into a prototype using invision and created a user test plan document.
I ran and moderated six in-person usability tests with participants ranging in age, technical ability, gender and ethnicity. The tests were performed on an iPhone 7 provided to the user, followed by a short survey to measure our user’s satisfaction levels. Click to preview the full User Test Plan and mid-fidelity Inktank Prototype.
Learnings & Outcomes
User testing uncovered a few issues and opportunities for improvement within the Inktank app. I measured each issue on a scale of 1-4 with one representing least concern and four indicating a critical error to create an order of priority for improvements. To launch a successful app, I needed to come up with viable solutions for these issues.
Users Didn't Recognize Icons & Their Placement
Users were often confused by the placement of icons, specifically the “Book” and “Message” icons during the test. Swapping these icons to buttons with clear titles and moving them to a more centralized and recognizable location underneath the artist’s bio made the process of contacting an artist much smoother for our users.
Users Wanted a Place to See Their Booked Appointments
One third of our user group expressed a desire to be able to view all of their booked appointments within the app. Adding this feature directly to the profile page allows users to easily check or cancel appointments from inside of the app.
Lack of Content in Wireframes Caused Confusion
This was a simple fix and involved filling the app in with great content so our users could explore relevant articles, check out work from talented designers and access anything they needed to plan their next tattoo!
The Final Product
By implementing multiple touchpoints with potential customers throughout the process and making design decisions based on tangible data, I was able to create an app that spoke directly to user needs and painpoints while meeting business goals. The Inktank app is truly an all-in-one solution to tattoo anxiety.
View the final Inktank Prototype.