I’ve Engaged with a Brand

projekt202's Josh Christopher has a call to arms with his latest user experience.

By Josh Christopher
UX Creative Director

Originally published on Medium

I actually have interacted with a brand -- in a way that, as a designer, would be my ideal hope for most of the companies I do work for.

It wasn’t intentional. I just had a problem and the company responded in a way that felt like they were speaking my language.

Here is My Problem

I don’t know what it is, but I keep busting through the elbows of my shirts. It happens so much. Below is my proof:

Another shirt bites the dust as Josh lets one rip ... again.

Another shirt bites the dust as Josh lets one rip ... again.

What I Did about It

Fed up, I drafted an email and sent it off to a bunch of men’s dress shirt companies. It went a little something like this:

Guys and Gals at (shirt company),
I have this serious/strange problem. I keep blowing out the elbows of my work dress shirts. So much so that I have contemplated quitting my job as a UX designer and making bespoke men’s dress shirts for a living. Have you guys solved this problem? If I buy your shirts, will I potentially blow out my elbow? Is it a problem just for me? Do I have mutant elbows causing me to destroy every quality shirt I purchase? Am I freak? Please help.

A handful of companies got back to me and offered me a discount on their shirts to try them out, which I did, for three companies.

But my favorite response came from one of the co-founders of a startup called Pacific Issue:

We have definitely seen this problem and have a few customers who have the same issue — you’re not alone. You’re not a freak. At least not in this regard. I can’t speak for the rest of your life ;)
There are a number of factors that contribute to blowing out the elbows of a dress shirt. The main ones are:
1. Sleeve length
2. Cuff size
3. Bicep/forearm circumference
4. Bending at the elbow excessively throughout the day (think typing on a computer for many hours a day)
While we can’t solve for #4, we can handle 1–3. I’m guessing you are a taller guy or have longer arms than average for your size?
I would highly recommend going through our fit questionnaire and potentially adding an inch to your off-the-rack sleeve length on question 4.
Let me know if you have any other questions and thanks again for getting in touch!

After communicating back to Mike that bicep circumference was likely not the issue, Mike replied and mentioned he was open to any quick wins I may recommend as changes for their experience.

After getting to know them a bit more, we determined the best thing we could do is learn more about their users via a light usability study. For this, I ran a few guys through their current fit questionnaire experience, in order to gain some qualitative data about the perception of filling out all that information.

The fit profile is how Pacific Issue ensures that the shirts they are custom making for their users will fit perfectly.

Fast-forward to a few weeks later and now I have facilitated four quick studies on their experience, and I think we have learned a lot.

Lean usability study on  Pacific Issue

Lean usability study on Pacific Issue

Some of the broader themes that we focused on are that the fit questionnaire differentiator -- and the fact that they are custom-making the shirts -- can get lost in the current experience.

These guys write really well, too. They do a great job of balancing a tone that is irreverent, funny, respectful and helpful. That said, a lot of their really great messaging comes after you complete your first transaction and while you wait for the shirt to be made. We talked about how they could amp up the messaging in places before the transaction occurs. Most of the guys that did the study did read their content and enjoyed those elements when they were present along the way.

The Pacific Issue team seems really excited about the opportunity to continue to replicate these studies as they evolve their product. I asked them to comment on what they felt about the whole process and here is what they had to say:

“Josh told us upfront that we could learn a lot from testing only five users. We were skeptical to say the least. After watching only three of the four tests he ran, we were amazed at how many patterns and themes emerged where users were getting confused. Watching the videos has given us some awesome quick UX/UI wins and some great longer term items to add to the roadmap.”

One of my favorite moments from the research, though, has to be in regards to the shirt shown on the left:

Blanche and Rose approve of this shirt. Dorothy and Sophia are undecided.

Blanche and Rose approve of this shirt. Dorothy and Sophia are undecided.

“This shirt reminds me of like maybe a 'Golden Girls' episode. If they had 'Golden Girls'-themed shirt names, my money would already be in their hands.”
~ Participant 4, a thirty-something year-old male

I have been really impressed by Pacific Issue’s ability to be so lean, by the data that they have about the experience, and by their receptiveness to suggestions.

I really encourage you to check them out. Also, try out one of their shirts, especially if you are constantly blowing out the elbows of your shirts or just have trouble finding a button-up shirt that fits.

projekt202 is the leader in experience-driven software design and development. We are passionate about improving the experiences that people have with enterprise and consumer digital touchpoints. And, we might add, our UX Creative Directors are now suitably attired. 

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