The portfolio of a content and design strategist
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Time Inc

The future of magazines is bigger than just making them digital

 

Transforming a static magazine feature into a dynamic, personal shopping experience.

 
 

Time Inc and InStyle Magazine were at a crossroads.

They were experiencing what every print publication has with the rise of the information era – decline in readership, difficulty capturing audience attention, and a disconnect between the physical and digital magazine experiences. We partnered with Time to uncover insights and create a prototype for InStyle Magazine to test on real customers. Our mission was to embrace the essence of the next generation for fashion editorial, and create a prototype they could get in the hands of customers within weeks.

 

PROJECT DETAILS
/client: Time Inc.
/date: 2015
/role: Content and Design Strategist, Creative Director
/disciplines: content strategy, creative direction, customer development, product strategy, MVP development

 
These features from InStyle were some of their most popular spreads. We used them to inform the digital prototype.

These features from InStyle were some of their most popular spreads. We used them to inform the digital prototype.

 
 

We identified the pressure points for the product

Through customer development with fashion lovers, InStyle readers and InStyle fashion editors we uncovered some interesting findings:

  • Customers said they routinely have difficulty pulling a full outfit together, even if they can find individual pieces with ease. 

  • Accessories is an area people felt the most receptive to suggestions.

  • InStyle fashion editors said the “Shop like an editor” features had been one of their most successful features. However, while customers loved the spread, it was rarely actionable because it wasn’t relevant to their personal shopping needs or style. 

  • Fashion editors reported being constantly asked to recommend accessories to their friends, which we considered to be a “super power” we could extend at scale with simple technology.

 
 

Comps for the prototype that elevated the voice of the editor as the spine of the story.

 

We focused on unleashing the superpower of the editors

 

Based on our findings from customer development, we partnered with InStyle’s fashion editors to design and build a prototype that leveraged their abilities to accessorize outfits in a highly personal way. While magazines had been providing this service as a one-to-many format for years, we wanted to create a product that allowed the user to have a one-to-one relationship with a fashion editor. 

 
The editor’s comments opened my eyes to styles I wouldn’t have considered for myself, and also helped me learn about brands I wasn’t aware of.
— Kat, beta tester
 
 
 

Customers loved the editor comments, even if they didn't love the item

The biggest risk of this product was if the one-to-one relationship was enough to generate customer love. Interviews with beta users quickly revealed two moments of distinct customer love—first, when they received their completed "Complement" from the editor. Most said it felt like getting a gift or a surprise. The second, and most powerful moment, was reading the rationale behind the items the editor had recommended. Almost all users said that even if they didn't like the item the editor recommended, they still enjoyed reading the comments as they felt it provided them so personal education about style.

 
 
 
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SUMMARY: Never underestimate the power of context.

We had a hunch that customers who were interested in style recommendations would also be interested in the rationale behind why the fashion editor was recommending a particular accessory. After our first round of testing, follow-up interviews with users revealed that not only were the editor's comments their favorite part of the app, but that even when they didn't like the recommendation, they still found the comments to be valuable.