2014-2015

Disrupting the hairdressing industry in London and Paris.

Disrupting the hairdressing industry in London and Paris.

Introduction

HAIRCVT are a slick London startup changing the way we find and book hairdressers. Their website features a curated collection of the best hairdressers and salons in London and Paris. They’ve also built a smartphone app that enables stylists to upload real photos of their work, giving users a better insight into who they'd like to book. The team have raised a £200k crowd funding round, were featured in major publications including Elle and Stylist, and appeared on BBC's Dragon's Den.

Original Product

Before I started working with them, their existing site featured a wall of filterable hairstyles and a system that let users book each hairdresser. After running some interesting market research, we discovered that price and location were more important to customers. So the team decided to destroy and rebuild a new MVP. They hired me to design the whole product from scratch.

New Approach

Based on an analysis of the metrics and feedback from original product, we were confident the MVP needed to feature the following:

  • A listing of hairdressers and salons filterable by price and location.
  • Improve the original booking journey to maximise the chances of setting the correct appointment
  • Finally, we wanted to surface their work upfront, empowering users to make educated decisions as early as possible
Process

We arrived at the new MVP through a process of wireframing, prototyping, feedback and conversations. Working closely with the founders, I began by rapidly wireframing the whole product for across large and small devices. This sparked a number of important conversations and let us make decisions more quickly, without the restriction or influence of visual design. We ruthlessly cut a lot of features at early on, ultimately saving time later down the line.

The Visuals

Next, I then moved onto the visuals and designed the most important screens across devices. Their original UI was simple and unopinionated, providing a nice starting point, but I wanted to make it feel more modern. So I updated their typography, refined their palette and tried to take an even cleaner approach to the visuals. I was also keen to surface the stylists' work as hero imagery and ultimately deliver a compelling experience; complemented by bold, modern typography. I turned these core visuals into Marvel prototypes to gather feedback from the team and to test them with users. The product is huge and sadly I can't reveal all of the secret sauce, but I've included some highlights below.

Mobile

We created a simpler, leaner experience for smaller devices. We designed the entire booking system mobile-first, as it was the most complex and unusual product feature. We tested some of the visuals and the prototype, and subsequently refined them based on the feedback. With some encouraging results and tight self-imposed timelines, the development team who were just wrapping up the backend, rapidly pulled the new product together to get out into the wild.

Stylist App

Not to be confused with the mobile consumer-facing site, I also designed them some core screens for their Stylist app, which enables hairdressers to upload their portfolio to their profiles. Because of the enormity of the project, we kept this work stream to a day long sprint. #startuplyfe

Challenges

Given the size of the product, naturally there were numerous challenges along the way. Everything from localisation to tricky, scalable visual lockups. The stylist results needed to feature portraits of their work; it was hard to keep them clean and accommodating portfolios of varying size and quality. Also, salons provide a seemingly endless continuum of services. We tried to distill these into the most popular services to mitigate choice anxiety, and create the most simple MVP possible.

Unique Booking System

Because the product doesn't integrate directly with salon booking systems, we had to try and increase the likelihood of booking slots, so we designed a unique time frame selection system. Users select time bands instead of specific time slots. This increases the likelihood of them securing an appointment. There were lots of clever moves (across both the product and marketing strategy) that sadly I can't surface here, but suffice to say the team had some smart little tricks up their sleeves.

"The new product led to 40% month-on-month growth, for the first 5 months post launch"

Adam Symons

Founder @ Haircvt
Conclusion

Very sadly, despite strong growth from the new product, the team were unable to secure long term financial security for the business and were forced to bring things to a close. The project was an incredible learning curve for everyone involved and testament to just how difficult it is to build a sustainable startup. The team were extremely talented, a pleasure to work with, and I'm sure will all go on to achieve great things.