Aaron Akbari Mort's Portfolio Project
During the CareerFoundry UX Design Program, you’ll build out a job-ready portfolio. Here is a breakdown of graduate Aaron’s portfolio project, InkTank, a service that helps tattoo enthusiasts make meaningful, regret-free tattoo decisions.
What inspired you to make a career change into this field?
“A couple years back, I became increasingly interested in the way technology plays a role in our lives and felt compelled to be a part of designing the environments and experiences that I was interacting with daily. Although my background is in graphic design, I initially thought the best way to get involved with technology was to learn how to code. Although a great skill to have, coding didn’t satiate my desires to shape the visual landscape around me. With a bit of coding knowledge and my design roots, the UX/UI field felt like the best natural step forward to help me get my foot in the door with the tech world, as well as, enlightening me to the full complexity of a user-oriented design process.”
What were you doing before taking the UX Design Program?
“Before transition into the world of UI/UX, I had spent ten plus years as a graphic designer and touring musician. I landed my first design gig in college and progressively moved my way into roles where I designed everything from production graphics to websites. As a freelance designer, I took advantage of my musical network to work on more creative projects, designing everything a band would need, from gig posters, to album artwork, to social and print assets. As a musician, I’ve been fortunate to tour the country and have music I have written and performed find its way into ads, shows, and movies, notably for Jack Daniels, Budweiser, BMW, and the Academy Award-winning documentary, Free Solo.”
Introducing his InkTank project, Aaron said:
“Not having any tattoos myself, I needed to delve deeper into understanding what motivates someone to get a tattoo and what communities existed for tattoo fans. A thorough competitive analysis shed light onto these questions, in turn helping me to define a specific problem statement with a set of possible solutions. This, in turn, led to the development of user stories and aided the development of further business requirements.”
Understanding the User
The first step in understanding my user-base was to define research goals that could further be evaluated by interviewing potential Inktank users.Analysis of the interviews, with the aide of affinity mapping, helped refine my potential user’s behaviors & attitudes, needs & goals, frustrations, pains, and insights.With a wealth of info from my interviewees, I was able to create two unique user personas that I could begin designing for. With their goals & expectations clearly in mind, I began creating user journeys with corresponding user flows to begin adding a visual directive to the project.
Before I began sketching wireframes, I conducted an open card sort to determine Inktank’s information architecture.The card sort data helped inform possible improvements to the current design thinking and highlighted a few must-have nav pathways. With this insight, a site-map was born.Starting with low-fidelity ink-on-paper wireframes and a mobile-first design approach, I began to iterate my way to a higher-fidelity prototype. At each fidelity stage, I ran usability tests to either validate design decisions or to help identify problem areas.
With a functioning prototype in hand, I conducted six remote usability tests.Verbally, most participants found the app to be familiar, however, almost universally, most participants actions highlighted some notable design issues.Without a doubt, the implementation of the AR (augmented reality) feature of the app was lost on almost every participant.The general presentation of imagery and suggested content also proved to not be as effective as initially conceived, leading the design to a more refined, image-focused platform.
Refining the Design
With a test report in-hand, I eagerly sought to balance, unify, and create a stronger sense of hierarchy within the app.In doing so, I began to consider the responsiveness of the app outside the realm of mobile use, defining grid and spacing parameters to help facilitate the demands of multi-screen use.A thorough design system was also established, highlighting the apps brand identity, 40+ UI components, and tone of voice.With a concern for accessibility, I made sure that the app follows WCAG standards, with a focus on creating ample color contrast for ideal visibility.
After logging over 300+ hours of user-focused research and design, I believe that the Inktank MVP fulfills the goals of the assignment and satisfies the expectations of the user.With that in mind, I would like to improve the AR feature of the app. Currently, it’s functionality within the camera works, but I feel like its potential should be a more prominent feature as originally brainstormed.For myself, designing the Inktank app taught me the real value of great research and the benefits of listening. Overall, this entire design process has helped shaped me into a more empathetic and open-minded designer.