Your ultimate furniture destination.
Designing a furniture app with an augmented reality (AR) feature
Mobile iOS app, Branding
HEEM is a new app for interior design and they have partnerships with a number of top 10 furniture stores in the U.S. As a business, HEEM will focus on providing the app to customers, with links to each item online. They will also have people from the team who are dedicated to keeping the catalogs, links, and product information up-to-date.
My job was to design an iOS app that allows users to view the catalog of furniture and place items in their home via augmented reality (AR).
Empathize with users through research and observation
Using our data to define our goals and create potential features.
Gaining a POV perspective of our users and creating the base of our design.
Creating a brand identity and bringing our work to life.
Follow ups and updates.
Since I wasn’t very familiar with the furniture retail industry, I began with some market research to gain a better understanding of the industry, its trends, and demographics. I then conducted a competitive analysis to see what other brands were implementing in their apps and to see what features HEEM might need. I finished off with some user interviews to learn more about the different experiences people have had with furniture shopping. The overarching goal was to understand how users shop for furniture and how augment reality can help assist with that process.
- Identify our demographic
- Discover how people shop for furniture and how AR could assist with their process
- Discover AR trends
- Find and learn about our competitors
- Discover how companies have successfully implemented AR tech for their customer base
Furniture and furnishings projected to be one of the fastest-growing segment of e-commerce sales through 2022. The U.S. demand for furniture is expected to reach $68.8 billion in 2022, rising at an annual growth rate of 2.6% from $60.5 billion in 2017. What’s fueling this growth? There are some obvious answers — online-exclusive retailers, like Wayfair and Amazon, have gained traction in the furniture market. Traditional retailers, like IKEA and Ethan Allen, have ramped up their online experiences, offering augmented reality (AR) apps that let customers see how a piece of furniture would look in their living rooms.
- Demographics play a big part in buying preferences. Gen Xers are the biggest online furniture purchasers, followed by Millennials — 21% of Gen X and 18% of Millennial survey respondents reported buying furniture online with intent to do so again, compared to only 14% of Baby Boomers.
- Millennials tend to look for furniture items that are smaller and less expensive, and treat furniture items as disposable rather than long-term investments, like generations before them.They also tend to favor furniture pieces that are compact, multifunctional, or integrated with technology.
- The AR market size is expected to increase from $3.5 billion in 2017 to a whopping $198 billion in 2025.
- AR awareness levels are highest among 16 to 44-year-olds, ranging from 70% to 75%.
- Most people's first experiences of VR and AR today are likely to be in gaming and entertainment. That's likely to change, as research shows that the development of enterprise XR solutions is overtaking that on consumer solutions.
To get a better understanding of the competitor landscape, I conducted an analysis on five of the most popular apparel retailers on the market. This allowed me to study some of the practices they employ and determine what works and what doesn’t. The focus here for me was the AR feature of the apps. I wanted to see the positive and negatives of our competitors so that I can perhaps incorporate some of those findings when building HEEM.
To learn more about users needs, motivations, and frustrations in respect to shopping for furniture, I conducted a series of user interviews. I found a handful of participants who’ve had experience purchasing furniture on and offline. By asking open ended questions, I was able to gain a strong understanding of people's furniture buying behavior. I was also able to learn more about their experience with AR and how it could potentially boost their shopping experience.
- All participants believed that being able to visualize how the furniture would look and figuring out the sizing before purchase is what makes AR useful
- Everyone shops for furniture less than 5 times a year
- No one has had a positive experience with purchasing furniture
- The majority prefer shopping for furniture in person
- The majority have had experiences with AR but it was very limited
From all the research we gathered, we created a fictional but realistic representation of our user persona.
By reviewing our research findings, we identified and prioritized several features that can pose as solutions towards the user’s goals, frustrations and needs.
Now I wanted to dive even deeper and get a better understanding of the overall journey Rachel would be taking throughout the app from start to finish. To do this, I put myself in our persona's shoes and mapped out her potential thought process and paths she might take.
This is where I began the skeletal process of the product. I made sure to build the wireframe around my user flow and included P1 and some P2 features from my roadmap. I also took a look back at my research and remembered that most users' AR experience is very limited. So to assist with that, I created instructional screens with GIFs using Figmotion.
Since AR require users to use the camera at all times, I wanted to create a screen that mimics the function of a photo taking app. All these apps have two things in common, a capture button and some kind of toolbar with additional features and elements. Mine would just be cater towards screen capture and furniture.
I wanted users to be able to edit and customize their desired product. During my research phase, I discovered that a lot of the current AR furniture apps don't allow users to make changes on the spot. If I wanted to select a new color, I had to to back to the product listing and re-enter the AR space again. Aside from the color option, I also included the ability to change angles on certain products, a save feature, and product info. All of which I believe are important features that users should have when using the AR feature.
To create a mood board for HEEM I turned to Pinterest. My goal was for HEEM to fit the brand attributes of minimalist, comfy, trendy, and professional. I looked for soft and earth tone color palettes, modern typography, and imagery of beautiful interior design.
Now that I knew what direction we are headed towards for their branding, I started working on creating a style tile that represented all the pins i collected on pinterest.
We brought the wireframes to life by combining it with the UI kit. However, you may notice that the color palette from the final product is different from the style tile. During the final design process, I just felt that the colors were too soft and hard to distinguish from each other. I decided to go for a more neutral palette with a bold orange highlight.
After creating high-resolution mock-ups, it was time to test our product. I conducted 6 usability tests to find out what the successes, pain points, and areas of improvement were. The goal of this test is to assess the overall flow of the AR feature and get feedback on whether or not users were able to successfully fulfill a task. I gave the respondents 2 different scenarios similar to our persona’s backstory, and provided them with 2 separate tasks.
All participants were able to complete the tasks error free. There was positive feedback on the AR instruction slides and product page. They noted that the slides would be very helpful for people who've had limited AR experience. Some noted that the camera tool bar was too small and the white text on the home page was hard to see with the background image. I went ahead and made adjustments accordingly.
Personally, I have had very little encounters with AR. I don't really use Instagram filters like a lot of my peers do. However, I have had my fair share of fun with it at the ARCTECH House bar and when Pokémon Go was the hottest thing on the planet. This project allowed me to gain a better understanding on how AR technology can be used to assist users with solving problems in their everyday lives!