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Hairtelligence

Brief Summary

Hairtelligence is a start-up customization hairstyling service for Black women. The online service lets women decide from sixty different options of customization, from the hair product, to the fiber, origin texture, length, and color. Hairtelligence also measures cap size measurements and lace tint matching through an AI feature.

Services

User Experience Design,
User Interface Design,
and Brand Identity

Client

Hairtelligence

CEO

Isoken Igbinedion
and Ifueko Igbinedion

Collaboration with

Rachel Carranzo 

Year

2020

Problem Statement

Increase the number of users to
join the waitlist and to help the
users understand the brand and process.

Discovery

I took this time to understand and synthesis the information the start-up shared with us. This information involved Black hair culture, how hair wigs are made for Black women, terminology, consumer reports, marketing guide, and some other research materials.

I was very excited to learn about all this information. This was unfamiliar territory for me since I wasn't a buyer of hair products or familiar with Black hair culture. I was very excited to be part of this revolutionary service to help women use a reliable product that is accessible in the United States.

 

Image by João Ritter

Understanding the Product 

Hairtelligence is an online, automated, AI-powered solution for measuring, cutting, dying, and styling custom hair products for African-American women.

The app allows users to submit facial video/photos and creates full customized hair styling using a 3D model that reflects accurate sizing of the head, skin-tone matching, lengths, dimension, textures, colors, and other variables.

Secondary Research: Understanding the User: Pt.1

Black hair is held in a broader conversation about identity and dominant beauty ideals, and that is why braids are just more than a hairstyle, they have a past and when we don’t recognize it we lose the history behind it.

The origin of braids can be tracked into African culture from 3500 BC. In many African tribes, braided hairstyles were a unique way to identify each tribe. Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, people were kidnapped from the continent of Africa, forced into slavery in the American colonies, and exploited to work as indentured servants and labor in the production of crops such as tobacco and cotton.

 

It also became a secret messaging system for slaves to communicate with one another underneath their master’s noses. People would use braids as a map to freedom, marking the plaits worn could indicate how many roads people needed to walk or where to meet someone to escape bondage. Despite the immense difficulty they faced during slavery, African-American women did their best to hold on to their ancestral traditions of wearing meticulously braided styles. 

Black hair has played an important role in survival. African ancestors would place rice, seeds, and gold on the scalp between two sections of their hair. This was done in case they were captured and forced to voyage across the Atlantic, they would have a small amount of food to survive and for sustenance. It makes the style even more meaningful and powerful.

Beautiful Skin
Brown Hair

Secondary Research: Understanding the User: Pt.2

The Psychology of Black Hair

One of the Hairtelligence's founders sent us a TED Talk by Johanna Lukate named, "The Psychology of Black Hair".

Johanna Lukate is a social and cultural psychologist. Her research focuses on Black womanhood and Black bodily aesthetics in the context of inter-group relations, identity, and the diasporas in Europe.

Throughout her TED she talked about the following points:




One woman, two hairstyles. two very different impressions of who she is.

Hair is a form of non-verbal communication.

Studies show that hair does matter of rating of intelligence and attractiveness.

People are biased towards natural afro-textured hair, they find it less attractive, less beautiful, and less professional.

We change our hair to manage other people’s impressions of us.

Who we are is in the eyes of others.

Secondary Research: Understanding the User: Pt.3

Black Hair
Expression + Identity

This identified different women like Sade Powell, a freelance writer and illustrator, and Aurore Evee, bilingual communications and creative service specialist, on how they wear their wigs, how they identify themselves with natural hair vs. wigs, their identity, acceptance, and their expression with them. Here are a few quotes that stood out to me. 

"The best part of wigs is it allows me to properly take care of my hair and maintain length without constantly exposing it to heat. The funny part that I also love is that wigs also gives me the ability to continuously confuse people in 2020."

"When I started actually taking proper care of my curls, I understood that: the more I knew about my texture, the more I loved it. This has been my mantra.”

"They also have the ability to provide a certain kind of confidence you cannot explain."

"For an everyday look, I love natural kinky hair wigs. I find that style blends in very well with my own hair."

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"My go-to wig style is always big and sassy, like my personality. I love curls, but I also wear straight hair looks that have volume. I love the versatility of wigs."

"I have felt the pressure to conform to a certain standard when I was in college;

I remember wanting to have straighter hair." 

"My favorite thing about wearing wigs is being able to change my style at a moment’s notice. If I’m bored of long pink hair, I’ll purchase and dye a short blue wig. It’s like being an avatar in a game! For me, hair is a means of expression."

Secondary Research: Understanding the User: Pt.4

There are different types of hairstyles and varieties that they come in.

Hair Type

Origin 

Virgin Human Hair

Remy Human Hair 

Synthetic Hair

Yaki Hair

Peruvian Hair

Malaysian Hair

Indian Hair

Mongolian Hair

Russian and European Hair

Brazilian Hair

Hair Products

Texture 

Frontal Lace Wing

Frontal Lace Closure 

Weaves

Extensions

Bundles

Lace Closure

Come in range of colors and lengths

Color and Length

Straight 

Yaki Straight

Kinky Straight

Body Wave

Ocean Wave

Loose Waves

Water Waves 

Deep Waves

Spanish Curl

Curly

Deep Curly

Kinky Curl

Afro Kinky Curl

User Research: Analysis

Conducting in-depth secondary research for the user gave me such an awakening about the identity hair carries with the Black women.

Black hair culture involves history, identity, and expression. Based on African-American history women used their hair as a source of refuge, safety, communication, and culture all in one. Natural hair for Black women was not acceptable in many workplaces, large cornrows weren't allowed in the military based on ensuring uniformity among troops, and the media representing women in Euro-American standards and not representing the diversity of natural and styled hair among Black women. Which unfortunately concluded to Black women to feel like they couldn't express themselves as they wanted to. 

Alternatively, in the 1960s, the natural hair movement encouraged women and men of African descent to keep their natural afro-textured hair. At the same time, Black women wore wigs during desegregation to address employment. It was a certain hair requirement when a Black woman had to integrate her job, and she had to comply with a style that her natural hair maybe couldn't do. One of the major reasons why Black women wore wigs was based on hair loss. 

Professionals say that there is still a caste system related to hair where it may be challenging for some Black women to accept their hair texture and length because of systems of white supremacy and racism that makes them feel as though their natural hair is not acceptable. This suppressed Black women's expression with their hair heritage, expression, and identity, 

As a white female who has not experienced the struggles, history, and battles African-American's face with racism, conformity, and beauty standards in today's society. I hope that together we can disrupt this standard that the media has, normalize natural and styled here everywhere, and normalize the diversity of expression and identity carries in Black hair culture in everyone's eyes. 

Discovery: Screener Survey and Participant Interview 

Due to our short timeline, we asked Hairtelligence's interns to send a screener to as many people as that fit our demographic. Our demographics were women who had a desire, curiosity or bought a hair product online.  

Participants 

1

Screener

African-American Woman who has a curiousity, interest, or bought a hair product online

Condition

Google Forms
and Google Meet

We collected and analyzed all the information from the seventeen screeners and the single 1:1 interview. Based on our research, the majority of users were bought hair products online. While others weren't familiar with the process and didn't trust the online market. 
 

Cost and accessibility are the most significant user challenges. Users chose to purchase online rather than at a retail store such as Sally Beauty because of convenience, affordability, quality, variety, and access to customer reviews. Responses to how often hairstyles were purchased varied evenly across the board but were most significant for about once to twice a year.

Discovery: Screener Survey and Participant Interview 

Trust is a significant issue

It was common to be disappointed in a product due to quality, length, thinning ends, and shedding. It’s difficult for users to find online sources they trust. This is where users look to reviews to signal whether a will meet their needs.
 

When looking for different products, the focus was on finding the right texture, length, color, and affordable pricing options. Only purchases once or twice per year because takes a lot of time and energy. Deciding on a purchase was usually a community effort, with the user checking in with friends to get their opinion before making a final purchase. User found style inspiration from friends, IG, Youtube and celebrities.

Woman Portrait

Research

Personas 

We collected and analyzed all the information from the seventeen screeners and the single 1:1 interview. Based on our research, the majority of users were bought hair products online. While others weren't familiar with the process and didn't trust the online market. 
 

One of our goals is to attract as many users to the website to join the waitlist. Women who are DYI-ers, online shoppers, salon goers, or even people who have always had natural hair and wanted to try a hair product but never knew where to go. So we decided to create two women who were at the end of each spectrum. With age, experience, tech savyness, salon experience, and DIYers. This is why we created to persons: 

Michelle and Clarice
 

Mapping 

Site Map and User Flows

With the information I gathered from our research and personas, 
I created a site map that illustrated what I thought would best navigate throughout the launch website.

Low Fidelity Prototypes

Prototypes

While designing our low-fidelity prototypes, our team decided we would each create a prototype based on what we individually understood from the discovery phase. Using the site map as our structure, we maintained the same structure but had different design processes. We conducted A/B testing with two prototypes to see what features worked best with our users. 

Click Prototype

Click Prototype

Testing

A/B Testing

Participants 

3

A/B testing was the best approach to test multiple rounds of iteration. We were able to test our different features and ideas we each had and added them to the two prototypes. Our plan was to combine the features that worked best for the users into our next draft. We were able to gain insight into the most usable and efficient ways based on the testing results instead of our own personal biases. 

Participants 

African-American Woman who has a curiosity, interest, or bought a hair product online

Main Tasks

Customize a hairstyle and share it with your friends
Where would you go to join the wait list?
Where would you go to buy a product?
Show me how you would insert your measurements through the AI feature?
Where would you go to filter the hairstyle you want?
Where would you go to find inspiration?

Main Follow up Questions

Condition

 Google Meet

What did you like or dislike about this process and the information given?
Is there anything additional that you’d like to experience during this journey?
Did anything seem distracting or confusing during this journey?

Do you have any more feedback or questions?

A/B Testing: Findings

Findings

Positives

Users loved the idea of creating a name for their post customization hairstyle creation.
Users shared that after creating customization, they found it helpful to share it to social media, by texting, or email.

Users liked being able to view the hairstyle details and the ability to favorite on the PLP page directly.
Users loved featured articles that inspired them with a hairstyle.
Users shared that seeing a hair product from a real customer is more credible than it would to see it on a model.

During the customization process, users shared they liked focusing one customization option at a time instead of all 6.

Users were able to find ‘join the waitlist’ very easily.

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Neutrals/Negatives

Instructions to what the AI Band was, what it was for, how to order it, or how it’s used wasn’t clear enough.

Users suggested that they would like their search filter in this order: (1) color, (2) length, (3) texture. Origin and Fiber would be the least important.

Mixed comments on the quiz.

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The improvements 

we made were to create clearer instructions and labeling throughout the launch website.

Rachel and I came so accustomed to the process that we didn't write clear enough instructions for the users. Also, include a higher signal-to-noise ratio when it came to the hair features in the search engine. 

Design Student

Brand Identity: Brand Attributes

Logo

The rebrand of Hairtelligence was inspired by Ifueko Igbinedion, while she was giving examples of headers to use for our launch website, she said “Let’s start a revolution”. This quote inspired us to use that concept and incorporate it in the brand.

We thought that Hairtelligence would voice a positive attitude towards the revolution to the hairstyling industry for Black women around the country and perhaps the world. Despite the main concept of Hairtelligence being a customization hairstyle service, we wanted to make this about a community of women who come together to form a revolution to love themselves with natural or styled hair.

Hairtelligence

Brand Identity: Photography: Collection 1

Imagery 
Lifestyle+ Posing


Objective:

This group of images showcases the confidence that Black women have with their identity (and styled or natural hair). The posing and direct eye contact with the camera creates a relationship with the viewers.


Content:

These should be photos of one woman per shot (but more if applicable!). They should be smiling, having a good time, or confidently posing in front of the camera.


Color:
The colors should be cool tones. The background should be light warm tones like white, beige, blues, and light greens. The background should not have any “hot” colors like pink or blues.

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Brand Identity: Photography: Collection 1

Imagery 


Beauty + Candid


Objective:

This group of images showcases Black women’s natural beauty with any hairstyle, natural, or with their customized hairstyle. The concept is to transmit confidence in their natural beauty.


Content:

These photos can be a group of women or a solo shot. They should be natural posing, smiling, and incorporate a candid feel for these photos. There should be no nudity, no alcohol, no food, no sexual posing, no bathing suits, no kissing, other labels or brands, or anything political.


Color: The colors should be cool tones. The background should be light warm tones like browns, blacks, beiges, whites, grays, and pinks. The background should not have any “hot” colors like pink or blues.

Brand Identity: Color Pallete and Typography

Color Pallete

Hairtelligence was created for Black women and their choice of expressing themselves through different customized hairstyles. This is why we choose to incorporate the beauty of Black women and their different skin tones.


Since the brand mission is to be inclusive to all Black women, we decided to use a dark and a light shade of skin tone to include the variety of shades Black women have. The colors that we included are Blush and Bally Brown.


We wanted to include other shades to the accent colors but due to the contrast checker and the accent colors worked well with either the primary or secondary color. In the next section, I will identify the contrast matching that should be used in the brand.

Color Matching 

Based on the contrast validity, it’s necessary to create a color palette that has enough contrast with the paired color. To the right are the brand colors with their matched pair to have enough contrast with one another.

Text

Design

High Fidelity

We incorporated the brand attributes, brand photography, and brand identity into this prototype. 

Testing

Discussing Launch Website with stake holders 

Rachel and I talked to the stakeholders, Isoken, and Ifueko about the website. They shared that they really loved the design and wanted us to make some additional changes. They also shared some restrictions and boundaries we would have long term. Rachel and I had to make some more adjustments.

Boundaries 

01. 
 

Each refresh cycle during the wig customization process will cost the company money because of an extended party. 

Edits

Redesign customization process

Make the profile more interactive

Understand and determine the mission of the company
 

01. 
02.

03.

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High Fidelity Prototype

I adjusted the screens and navigation based on the stakeholder's feedback and changes, we adjusted the profile and hair customization process.  

I decided to create 3 distinct sections: Personal Preferences, Customization Preferences, and Account Information. In the diagram below, I'm showing how I transitioned each section of the "Original Profile Section" to have them be more interactive. 

Profile

New Personal Preferences

Original Profile Section

New Customization Preferences

New Account Information

Customization Process

We decided to individualize and separate each step of the customization process to make it more like a quiz. The feedback we got from the stakeholders was that it was to change the step-to-step process. In the Original Customization Process, we had the wig customization at the end of the process. We made this decision based on the thought of rewarding the user after they completed the measuring process. The stakeholders mentioned that they wanted the wig style customization process at the beginning to influence the user to see their customized hairstyle to then be influenced to finish the process to complete the rest of the customization process. We also decided to create another progression bar that was more visual and colorful.

Original Customization Process

New Customization Process

Hairtelligence's Next Steps

Rachel, Ifueko, Isoken, and I are determining the final tweaks of the launch website. I'll need to finish a few illustrations for the customization process that includes a few different hairlines and the 'how to take different measurements for the capsize' section. We also have been discussing the mission of the brand. We've been conducting user research and aiming to figure out what Black women value in other companies that we can leverage into Hairtelligence's mission.

Based on the privacy constraints, I am not able to show the prototype website until it's live in summer 2021.  

jasminemcagosti@gmail.com

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