Having a hard time managing beauty products? Aoaola is here to help you use cosmetics in a healthier way.
Aoaola was first launched as a website, and made into an app in 2016. Two years after, the amount of users kept increasing, however, the Aoaola app had never updated since the first launch, and accumulated tons of complains from users. Thus the company wanted to hire a full-time designer to solve the problems.
To reimangine the cosmetics management process as the breakthrough point of improving the overall service.
Over the 7 months, I led the redesign of Aoaola app from synthesizing problems, designing the information architecture, designing the UX/visual, to writing feature documents, and communicate with front-end developer.
I designed all the new features with help from our CEO and another part-time designer, and made all the screens for the new version at an implementation-ready level.
- Received very positive feedbacks from users constantly regarding the new display of information, new features, and visuals.
- Reached 3 million downloads in a month after releasing the redesign (iOS and Android platform total).
- My design and style was carried out fully by the team even after I left the team till now.
I started with redesigning the management process on Aoaola app because according to the data, most of new users/customers were attracted by the expiration date searching and Reminder features of Aoaola app.
An updated reminder feature for cosmetics
This is the reminder screen where users can add products with their expiration date and track them.
The new reminder also helps users to put their products into different categories: all products, expired, empty, not opened yet.
Product detail page with two forms of usage tracker
The detail page for each product that the user records is totally new. It contains information that is useful to the users to ensure a healthy use of cosmetics.
One is a gauge view of the usage, the other version is a progress bar view that separates opened expiration date and shelf life.
Ingredient search in addition to the expiration date search
The previous version only supported expiration date search for users, however, I added the ingredient searching feature in the new version.
Embedded products in original articles
Aoaola publishes original content on Aoaola app and synchronizes on Aoaola Select ((service account on WeChat) on a daily basis.
However, the previous version of Aoaola app failed to bridge the gap between reading and buying. I thus embedded the products into the articles, which provided direct entry to the shopping cart.
Expense review with sharing option
In addition to calculating price of all the products recorded, a new "Value" (total cost) tab was added and is shareable to social media.
I designed and drew all the icons using Sketch.
What challenges was Aoaola facing?
During the first two weeks of my work at Jingqi, I did two major things:
1) Get to know the company and team.
2) Get to know the product.
I had several talks with our CEO, the founder of Aoaola, to get to know the details of the product, asking questions about the history of the business, the company's missions, how Aoaola app connects the service, and what the salient problems were.
However, due to the time limit and the size of the startup, me and CEO had to decide what to tackle first and at which level of fidelity. In the following user research, I must pick the cheapest way to get in touch with the real users.
On the surface, users complain for lack of features and confusing interfaces, but the problem they were really facing is a broken experience between the core app and
After experiencing the app on my own and talking to relevant co-workers, I mapped out the current (old) user flow and service model.
By going through the existing customer feedbacks collected by the build-in report feature and customer service, I added breakdowns to the models.
There old service model
There old user flow of two key features (screens are the old version)
Cosmetic lovers have stronger need towards Aoaola, and are at the overlap of "user" and "customer"
Seems like that all users are reporting actively on bugs, but I proposed to focus on cosmetic lovers' needs first.
Aoaola's users majorly fall into the age range from 24 to 35. These people graduated from colleges and have a steady source of income.
The two types of users, synthesized together with PM, content marketing specialist, and me based on user data
From the research, PM and I found that cosmetic lovers have a stronger need towards beauty products management, purchase, and sharing with other people. Thus, we decided to prioritize their needs.
Now that I've understood the high-level challenges and settled down the primary target group, talking to users directly and researching on cosmetic managing behaviors were up on my agenda.
Learning from users
Unspoken needs got surfaced and informed design decisions
I collaborated with CEO and content manager to leverage the WeChat group for customer service and Aoaola official account to learn about our users' behaviors. In addition to that, I talked to co-workers and friends who love make-ups to understand their mental model on their usage behaviors of beauty products.
The journey of cosmetic management is a long ongoing process and does not end when the user is running out of the product, which has a "empty" state that was not being covered.
I found that the user does not stop trying to manage the products after they are empty. In short, there are more insights and information they want to get out from the cosmetics they are using, they want to use, and most importantly, they have used.
By taking care of the user journey after the a product has been running out will broaden the usefulness of Aoaola app and increase user engagement.
The categories of user's cosmetics are more than "all" and "expired", which means that the old way that Reminder displayed information about cosmetics did not match user's mental model.
In other words, the old Reminder screen was not scan-friendly, especially for cosmetic lovers who possess a lot of products. The highest number in our database was 900+ recorded products.
Even cosmetic lovers are confused about what expiration dates really entail.
Cosmetics usually have two types of expiration date: the one that starts from production to present, which is typically years long, and the one starting from opening to present, which ranges from 6 months to 36 months typically.
A more intuitive and quick way to educate users about this is needed to ensure the information is digestible and thus increase the usefulness of Aoaola.
People share cosmetics price and reviews not just for knowledge sharing, but for social purpose.
Everyday in the group chat, users and customers of Aoaola will share what they are using and just purchased. They talk about the price of the beauty products, which are often pricy ones, and reviews of the products, which are insights that are hard to find online. People who share these conversations then started around the shared price and product details.
I found this insight quite interesting. It could be used to design a feature that meet their sharing need and distribute/promote our app.
Turning Aoaola app into a more integrated platform will drive the transition of users to customers.
The current way Aoaola draws people to their shopping website for discount cosmetics is through WeChat official account, where they publish original articles, either promoting products or sharing tips/reviews/knowledge around the cosmetics. They put the link to Aoaola shopping website at the end of each articles on WeChat.
However, this flow is very problematic because many followers complain about too many jumps between getting to buy the products they like, and waiting for pages to load on phone is annoying, so often times they give up.
💡Design implication: Aoaola app should serve as the integrated platform that combines the service and bridging the gap between purchasing and managing.
The digital product and eCommerce market moves really fast in China, thus as a startup, PM and I decided that the team should ship a minimum viable version ASAP. Testing with real users will be overlapped with operation of the new version.
01. Centralize the service by redefining the scope of Aoaola app.
I redesigned the information architecture of Aoaola app to ensure the centralization of service (together with new features, which will be explained afterwards).
02. Match Reminder with user's mental model of how they would organize cosmetics.
Expand the categories of cosmetic records.
03. Support the full user journey to keep users coming back and staying longer on the app.
To support the reflect stage of the user journey, the first step I took was to create a new product detail page.
In the product page, more information that the user needs to know about the cosmetic is shown. More interactions are available for users to manage the cosmetic in different ways: duplicate, make it empty, delete, share.
I decided to use a gauge to increase the sense of urgency due to Aoaola's mission to promote healthy usage of cosmetics, which means to educate users about what expiration dates really mean, and push them to use cosmetics before they expired.
The design of the gauge evolved several times.
These are two iterations of layout that I experimented with.
Early drafts and exploration
Secondly, I added embedded products into articles that Aoaola publishes everyday. From there, users can directly interact with cosmetics that are mentioned in the articles to add into cart or purchase in a breeze.
Lastly, in addition to redesigning the expense feature by including summary list, month & year data visualization, I added a value page.
This design decision was based on the insight 4 that users needs to show off their cosmetics to their social circle.
By having this new feature, the social aspect of cosmetic management is supported.
It also increase the user engagement, because in order to share the total value, users to need to enter all their cosmetics with price.
After I left the company to attend MHCI at CMU, they followed my full design and roadmap in terms of implementation.
Around December 2018, the new version released in China iOS App Store, and reached 18th in its category, and exceeded 3 millions of downloads (iOS plus Android platform).
in its category.
of downloads (iOS plus Android platform) in a month.
Seeing the things that I designed shipped to the real world is really rewarding. This project was the first real world project that I led, which is a step I took out of my comfort zone. I am very glad that I pushed myself to take risks and facing real users and problems. It made me realized how much informative talking to real users is.
After months of hard working, the team all witnessed the success of the new version. Although it's not perfect (and it will never be), we validated our design decisions and reached the high-level goal. We also received feedbacks that guided our next iteration.