Innovation Through Home Renovation

Using Augmented Reality technology to help  growing community of home DIY’ers who now have the tools to do the job despite their lack of experience was truly exciting.

I was a part of a concept design project to create an intuitive augmented reality interface which guides homeowners through completing renovation projects in real time.

The Challenge

Designing on the cutting edge.

As one of the biggest chain of retail home improvement and appliance store, Lowe’s had sales of $65 Billion. By 2017, Lowe’s launched in store navigation through augmented reality. As the augmented reality market project to generate $90 billion by 2020, Lowe’s looking to build a product for an overlooked customer group – homeowners who want to do their own home maintenance and small DIY projects.

Our goal is to figure out how to:

1.  Integrate augmented reality technology into the Lowe’s app.
2.  Make it intuitive and useful to the users for their particular home improvement needs.
3.  Best solve this complex home renovation problem in one mobile product.

My Role

I led the design of the app features, which include the planning, shopping and visualizing experience.

I designed the UI and visual elements of the app and collaborated with two other designers on the structure of the app, the guide detail page and the AR item saving screen.


Gaining insights from the current market.

Since AR apps are still rare unique in 2017, first we needed to do a market research to see how AR was integrated in different platforms and to understand what people love and hate about them.

We found out that standard conventions and special shortcuts help users feel comfortable navigating to what they need. Errors and dissatisfactions laid in poor prompt, incapacitating design and the lagging or the freezing in AR features.

The Discovery

Tapping into user habits.

We interviewed 7 store managers in California to identify the user demographics and their project types. Then we interviewed more participants to narrow down the user profile and to find out their renovation style or habits, their motivations, pain points and workarounds.
2 types of user personas developed based on our user research.
We had two user groups who behave in two distinct ways. Those who are process driven and those who are results driven. Despite the difference in renovation needs, they both have problems planning, budgeting and visualizing their renovation projects.
User problem spectrum based on our user research.

Redefine the Problem

Having trouble planing, budgeting and visualizing projects.

a. Difficulty estimating project logistics (eg. budget, time, materials) - Information varies by blog, instructions, advice giver (inconsistent sources of information)

b. Currently depends on limited network of friends & family to resolve issues with a project (Lack of help & resources)

c. It's hard to visualize projects and meet outcomes and there is a disconnect between their ideal and actual outcomes.

Validate problems with empathy.

We validated the main pain points shown above with empathy map, journey map and task analysis. This also helped us identify features.
Me and my team card-sorting the user interview results

Introducing the App

Lowe’s Visual Planner

Lowe’s Visual Planner is a well-rounded product which empowers and brings together our communities through trusted expert advice and knowledge so you can effortlessly plan your renovation experience. It integrated cutting-edge Augmented Reality feature to bring your vision to life.Lowe’s Visual Planner offers you a distinctive experience of  discovering, socializing, shopping and creating.
Visual and motion design by me.

Design Phase

Designing by habit patterns.

It was crucial for Lowe’s UX to be centered around providing an empowered user experience through a flexible layout allowing the user to use the app to their own preferences.

Designing with sketching.

I then led the team with a brainstorming design studio session to ideate and sketch out key screen layouts. This helped us communicate ideas and visualize the use of the features. Then we used the key screens as our road map to create app structures and flows.
Low-fidelity wireframes synthesized and developed by me.

Design Phase

Prioritizing product.

Before I jump into designing the site blueprint, I prioritized five core features that solve problems and satisfy with both user goals and business goals.
Lowe's Visual Planner is built on efficient structure, flexible features and intuitive communication to provide and simple and personalized issue solving.
The onboarding encourages the user to discover content and start planning their next project.
Concept, visual and motion design by me.
Built-in Appliance Store is an easy way for users to shop directly from the tutorials. This streamlines their preparation process.
Concept, visual and motion design by me.
Peer Reviews and Forum works as a quick and helpful way for users to discuss tips and tricks from others in the Lowe’s community. And the Talk to Pro feature gives the user the option of calling or video calling (using AR) the specialists at Lowe's in real time to help them solve problems they encounter during their constructions. 
Concept, visual and motion design by me.
Personalized Realistic Cost & Time Estimator calculates the data from user’s inputted tool/material inventory and generates a tools/materials shopping list with a rough quote to help prep user’s future project. This minimizes time wastes and user’s stress and frustration during project planning.
Concept, visual and motion design by me.
Concept design by me and Lindy. Visual and motion design by me.
The AR Visualizer helps the user see how the furnitures fit in their space and how materials look close to each other. It saves user’s time and cost of taking trips to the appliance store to find the right piece for their home.
Concept design by me and Lindy. Visual and motion design by me.

How did I get to the solution

Structure first.

We used the core features as guide points and created an information architecture which addressed current flaws and generates a simplified user flow.

Visual Problem Solving & Brand Alignment

My visual design goal was to create a interface that is:

‌•  Clean and easy to navigate
‌•  Reflective of the brand
‌•  Flexible and clear information layout
‌•  Captivating and clear infographics and icons

I developed a visual identity to appeal to the target market of hands-on home owners.

The user interface and visual assets were created with a digital application focus, designed to position the platform as a hybrid of social, educational and shopping platform for the future.
Mobile app UI tool kit developed by me.


Moving Forward

We tested the app with 12 participants. Our goals was to observe the usability of each feature and to catch any trouble they encounter while using the functions.

With 3 rounds of user testing, we focused on educating the user on the features and how to use them, changing of a more clear taxonomy in the navigation and a set of more standardized icons.

“It’s totally Great for browsing and learning about projects.”

– Bill, Software Developer, 25