Soak
Beauty

Making beauty services accessible to English speakers in South Korea.

I was freelancing as a Graphic Designer with Soak Beauty in July 2021 and was offered to be a part of the company's new business project. During that time, I have not graduate from UX Bootcamp but I am grateful that I was given an opportunity to work with a client as my first UI/UX freelance job. Before I start with my case study, I would like to thank Judy Kim for believing me.

Soak Beauty plans to launch an app that educates & allow customers to easily book beauty services in Seoul. To acquire funding from investors, a MVP/prototype is needed during pitching stage and there's where I am here to help.

Duration
Role
Tools
50 Hours
Research
Prototyping
Brand Identity
Usability Testing
Figma
Invision
Optimal Sort
Maze
View Prototype
Problem

English speakers have always struggled to do research and make reservations for beauty services due to language barrier. The current resources such as Google and Facebook Group often promotes irrelevant and outdated information causing users struggle to find reliable information.

solution

Design an app that allows English Speakers to book beauty services in South Korea

Research
Market Research

South Korea has always been the top in the beauty industry in the world. From best selling skincare products to affordable beauty clinics, foreigners often travel to Korea to experience the beauty hub. The industry continues to grow strong with new beauty technology emerging every year.

There are 2.5M foreigners residing in Korea including students and expats.

Non-invasive procedures a recorded a 10 percent jump in sales in the first 10 months of 2020 from the previous year. That boost came without the normal tourists from overseas.

Korean beauty has been the most talked-about country-led movement in the past decade. The value of exports from South Korea has grown by approximately 660%.

Talking to Users

I conducted user interviews with a total of fourteen English speakers to understand the user's experience when searching and booking beauty services in Korea. I learned that many of the women interviewed have felt frustrated when they are conducting research and booking beauty services.

Skeptical reviews
Users depend on reviews to see procedure results but they are not sure whether the reviews are verified.

Language barrier
Users get turned down in some places because they don't speak Korean fluently.

The "Foreigner" price and place
Users want to have same treatment and pricing as locals because English speaking businesses usually charges higher.

Unclear payment system
Most users do not understand the reason a deposit is needed to secure the reservation.

Following my user interviews, I synthesized my findings and were able to create an persona and customer journey map which were presented and discussed with the client. These exercises formed a great foundation to pinpoint user's frustrations and goals.

My participants are currently depending on 4 major platforms to do their beauty related research. Most used platform for English speakers would be Facebook female group because the forum have regular postings. Although Naver and Gangnam Unni remain most used platforms for locals but English speakers hardly use these platforms because of language barrier.

DEFINING THE PROBLEM

English Speakers in South Korea have difficulty finding relevant and trustworthy platforms to book beauty services.

Ideation

In order to solve the core problem, we needed to focus on 4 problem areas found in our user interviews. Using HMW statements, we brainstormed possible solutions to help our users find relevant and trustworthy information to book beauty services.

Using Crazy 8 practice, I sketched out more possible features that might work. I wanted to generate as many ideas as possible as the timeline was quite tight.


Prioritizing features while aligning with business goals was a struggle to me. This is due to the fact that we wanted to create an all-in-one app. To communicate clearly with my client, I design build a few users flows to show how a user interacts with a product. This helps me figure out issues in the flow and highlight important screens.

Booking a service
Viewing description of services

Sketches

Next up, sketching out the flows! Through sketches, I tested out multiple ways to set up the booking flow and move through the application – merchant screen, payment screen and bookings screen.


The Solution

Verified Reviews
Users can view reviews that are submitted by verified users. Only customers who has gone through a procedure are allowed to submit a review.

10/10 Rating System
A 10/10 rating system is introduced. There's a lot more room to express user's actual opinion of a service. This is especially crucial for beauty services because the procedure affects your body parts so, user’s opinion needs to be very detail.

Language Indication

Language is one of the main problem for users. Users are comfortable going to Korean speaking places but would like to know in advanced so users can prepare themselves with a translator app or bring a local friend. 

Educating Users

Information of the type of treatment and service to educate users and help users to make a decision.

Importance of Deposit

Provide explanation the importance of deposit before and during making a beauty service booking.

Usability Testing

A few rounds of usability testing were conducted with users to get feedback on the usability of the app. The objectives were :
1. To find out the experience of users booking beauty services. 
2. To find out if information of the product is sufficient for users to make a decision. 
3. To find out if the payment options are acceptable for users. 
4. To identify the pain points and improve the UI/UX of the app.

Most feedback were found on product and payment screen. I used affinity mapping and prioritization matrix to tackle the major feedbacks and ideate solutions to make sure the user is able to book and make payments successfully.

Iterations

Comprehensible review ratings

Creating distinctive buttons

Simplifying payment options

Setting the look and feel


I started putting up the mood board by finding references close to the existing brand guide. The current guidelines consists of only light colors which might not be suitable for CTA buttons on mobile screens.


With that in consideration, I experimented with more saturated colors that will match well with soft tones.

The Final Outcome

Takeaways

This was my first official UI/UX design job after transitioning from a graphic design background. It was also my first time being in a start-up scene, working directly with the founder. Learning how the business works inside and out made me understand business goals clearly and broaden my perspective. The result is a product that I am proud of building, and it is something I would personally love to use to book beauty services. However, I did struggled on balancing user's needs and client's needs. There were more features included which might not be necessary at this stage especially as an MVP.

What I would do differently..

I would focus on important features that helps the main user flow. By doing so, we can save time and hopes to reduce the cost of developing an app with extensive features. I believe that building a product have many stages and needs market testing to determine how we can move forward.