Interview with Yue Gao and Yifeng Wang from United States

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Yue Gao (left) and Yifeng Wang (right) | NY Product Design Awards

Yue Gao and Yifeng Wang

Yue is a UX/product designer interested in Fin-tech, DeFi, XR, and building the metaverse of the future. Yifeng is a product designer focused on SaaS/Web3/FinTech. They collaborated on Outfit Club, a virtual, personalized avatar-based try-on platform for online shopping, addressing the challenges of the online shopping experience.

1Please give us a brief bio of yourself and your background.

Yue: I'm an impact-driven UX/product designer interested in Fin-tech, DeFi, XR, and building the metaverse of the future! Previously, I worked as a UX|UI Designer at a design agency with experience on multiple B2B projects with major financial companies in FinTech and cryptocurrencies. Skills include UX Analysis, UX and UI design, Agile methodology, and AR experience design. I have a Master's degree from UC Berkeley.

Yifeng: I'm a product designer & entrepreneur focused on SaaS/Web3/FinTech. I have experience in working closely with founders to create products from 0 to 1, building design systems for product growth and enterprise readiness. I am passionate about using design to increase adoption and usability of new technologies, especially in web3 and blockchain.

2Tell us more about your business/company, job profile, and what you do.

At Outfit Club, we empower online shoppers to better visualize outfits, assess fit, and make informed purchasing decisions through a personalized avatar-based virtual try-on platform, tailored to individual preferences and body shapes.

The creation of this project was deeply rooted in our connection to the challenges of the online shopping experience. The COVID-19 pandemic's acceleration of online shopping has underscored the urgent need for an improved solution.

Motivated by our shared experiences, we engaged in comprehensive user interviews to gain a deeper understanding of these challenges. These insights, combined with collaborative brainstorming and solution evaluation with business strategists and engineers, led us to recognize the effectiveness of a virtual avatar in addressing these issues.

Our passion for the project has been a driving force throughout its development, constantly pushing us to refine and enhance the online shopping experience. "Outfit Club" was more than a professional pursuit; it was driven by our genuine desire to positively impact the user experience. The accolades, expert feedback, and growing interest in further development of "Outfit Club" confirm the project's success and relevance. This blend of technology, design, and user-centric innovation has not only earned recognition but has also strengthened our dedication to continuous improvement in user experience design.

3What does “design” mean to you?

To me, design is a problem-solving tool that blends aesthetics, functionality, and user empathy to create solutions that enrich people's lives. It's about understanding deep-rooted user challenges–like those we identified in online shopping experiences–and employing innovative technology and creative strategies, such as Outfit Club's personalized avatar-based system, to effectively address these issues. Design transcends mere visual appeal, embodying the seamless integration of user needs, technological possibilities, and environmental considerations.

4What’s your favorite kind of design and why?

My favorite type of design is user-centric design, which puts the user's needs, preferences, and behaviors at the forefront of the development process. This approach resonates with me deeply because of its impact on the creation of solutions like Outfit Club that are not only innovative but also truly improve user experiences. By prioritizing the user, this design philosophy enables the creation of products that are not only functional and accessible, but also enjoyable to use, fostering a positive and lasting impact on the user's life.

5To you, what makes a “good” design?

A "good" design achieves a harmonious balance between form and function, tailored to meet user needs while pushing the boundaries of innovation and sustainability. It should solve a real problem in a way that feels intuitive to the user, as we did at Outfit Club by enabling users to visualize outfits on personalized avatars. Moreover, a good design is sustainable; it considers its environmental impact, aiming to reduce waste and promote conscious consumption. Ultimately, a good design is inclusive, accessible, and evolves with technological advances and changing consumer behavior to remain relevant and valuable.

6Tell us about your design process.

The project had three phases:

Problem Discovery: Conducted surveys and interviews to understand online shopping issues. Research markets and similar products for insights.

Ideation and Sketch Design: Brainstormed solutions, and used an impact matrix to select a personalized avatar for outfit visualization. Designed interactions for users to engage with their avatar during virtual try-on.

Iterations and user tests: Prototyped interactive avatars for personalized onboarding. Added body shape templates from user tests. Replaced models with user avatars to tackle the challenge of outfit visualization, which was well-received in testing. 3 iterative rounds led to the final design.

7Can you explain a bit about the winning work you entered into the 2023 NY Product Design Awards, and why you chose to enter this project?

The winning project for the 2023 NY Product Design Awards is Outfit Club, an innovative mobile app designed to transform the online shopping experience. This project was awarded among more than 1,500 entries due to its unique approach to addressing the challenges prevalent in the e-commerce fashion industry – the challenges customers face primarily in visualizing how outfits will look and fit on them, which often leads to uncertainty in purchasing decisions.

Key aspects of the Outfit Club include:

Personalized avatars: The app uses advanced 3D modeling to create lifelike avatars, allowing users to accurately visualize outfits in their body shape, boosting buying confidence.

Sustainability Focus: Aimed at reducing the environmental impact of online shopping, the app minimizes returns and shipping through a more precise and personalized shopping experience.

User-Centric Design: Tailored specifically for young adults, the app aligns with their style preferences and shopping habits, focusing on quality, style, and technological innovation.

The decision to include this project in the NY Product Design Awards was driven by its potential to showcase a blend of technological innovation and user-centric design, addressing a real-world problem in a post-pandemic market that continues to grow. The project not only represents a significant leap forward in enhancing the online shopping experience but also aligns well with the evolving needs and expectations of modern consumers, making it a worthy contender for the awards.

8What was the biggest challenge with this project?

The biggest challenge with the Outfit Club project was developing a personalized avatar-based virtual try-on platform that could accurately and realistically replicate how different outfits would look and fit in various body shapes. This challenge was multifaceted and included several key aspects:

Accurate 3D Avatar Modeling: Essential for mirroring a wide range of body types, this required advanced technology and an understanding of ergonomics and fashion design.

User Experience Design: Focused on creating a user-friendly interface that manages complex tasks such as avatar customization and outfit visualization directly.

Balancing Realism with Performance: Involved in optimizing the app to ensure high-quality, realistic avatars and outfits while maintaining smooth performance on various devices.

Overcoming these challenges was essential to ensure that Outfit Club not only met functional requirements but also delivered an exceptional user experience, addressing the core issue of enhancing confidence in online apparel shopping.

9What are your top three (3) favorite things about our industry?

Innovation and Evolution

The constant innovation and change in the tech industry keep work exciting and allow for continuous learning and growth.

Societal Impact

Technology and product design significantly impact everyday life and society, offering the opportunity to create meaningful and impactful solutions.

Cross-cultural/professional collaboration

The industry thrives on interdisciplinary collaboration, bringing together diverse perspectives that drive creativity and breakthrough ideas.

10What is your key to success? Any parting words of wisdom?

My key to success lies in relentless curiosity, empathetic user engagement, and a commitment to continuous learning and adaptation. The journey of creating "Outfit Club" taught me that success is not just about solving a problem, but doing it in a way that deeply resonates with users' needs and experiences. Engaging directly with users to understand their challenges and feedback was instrumental in refining our solution to better serve their needs.

Moreover, embracing a mindset of continuous improvement and being open to feedback has been crucial. Every setback was an opportunity to learn, and every achievement was a stepping stone to the next challenge.

Winning Entry

Outfit Club | 2023

Outfit Club aims to tackle the sustainability challenge caused by frequent, unnecessary shipping and returns in online shopping. This problem often arises due to …
(Read more at NY Product Design Awards)

Yue Gao and Yifeng Wang

Yue is a UX/product designer interested in Fin-tech, DeFi, XR, and building the metaverse of the future. Yifeng is a product designer focused on SaaS/Web3/FinTech. They collaborated on Outfit Club, a virtual, personalized avatar-based try-on platform for online shopping, addressing the challenges of the online shopping experience.

Read more about this interview with Raquel Fuentes from United States, the Silver Winner of the 2023 NY Product Design Awards.