So what is it that I’m planning and how and why has that evolved from my original idea?
My original idea was to create a design-your-own-dress website. The plan was that you’d pick from a selection of different bodice and skirt shapes, add straps and embellishments and choose your colours and fabrics. As you were choosing and designing your dress, you’d see your design on a 3d version of yourself that you’d already created on the website.
One of my first lessons from my mentors on the Griffin Launchpad was to talk to my customers and to find out what they actually want, so that’s what I did. And I quickly learnt that my customers don’t want to design their own dresses and that they wouldn’t know where to even start. They love my brand because they love my designs and they want me to be the designer, not them. I hadn’t thought of it like that before – my thinking was that a design-your-own-dress website would give everyone the opportunity to design the dress that they really want, but I was off the mark. I needed to do some more research and talk to more people about what they would want to see from a Rockstars and Royalty online collection. I thought it would also be interesting to talk to people about what they like and don’t like about online dress websites that they currently use.
To find out more about what my customers really want from my website, I set up a survey on Facebook and started talking to people. I asked everyone who came to my studio about their online shopping habits. The results were really interesting and brought up issues that I hadn’t known or thought of. Amongst other things, I found out that a lot of people only shop on their phones and a few of them only use apps, so this needs to be taken into account when I’m building the new website. A lot of the answers also confirmed some of my major assumptions. The one that came up over and over again was that all dress sizes and body types need to be represented by showing the dresses on a variety of models of different shapes and sizes. So many clothing websites are still only showing their products on skinny models, even when they’re selling ‘plus size’ clothing, which makes no sense to me.
After getting all this new feedback and information, I had a rethink and came up with a slightly different concept. Again I had to validate and confirm whether this was what my customers wanted or not. My mentors at Griffin have taught me to move through these validation stages as quickly and as cheaply as possible, so rather then building a prototype website and making a couple of sample dresses, I drew, on paper, the most basic form of the website as I possibly could to show people. I made 4 versions of the website. Each version added more features. I wanted to show them to people in person and get their response and find out which version, if any, they would want to order from. I also had some more questions about online shopping and about the size ranges I wanted to include, so I decided to do this at the same time. I needed people to come and see me in person, so I put a call out on my Facebook page. I had a great response – 32 people offered to come and see me to help.
Above – my 4 paper websites, used for my customer validation research
Here’s what the 4 paper websites contained –
Website 1 – This was most basic version possible. It contained 4 designs, all of which were available to order in 2 colour options in standard dress sizes.
Website 2 – This was exactly the same as website 1, but with the additional option of choosing your body type or dress size and seeing the dresses on a model who was similar to you.
Website 3 – This was the same as number 2, but with the addition of being able to choose custom sizing as well as regular sizes.
Website 4 – This one was a bit different. The first page showed 2 dress designs. The following pages then brought up the dress and the different options that could be chosen within the design. They had different skirt lengths, fabrics, sleeve lengths, embellishment options, and overlay options. They were all available in custom or standard sizes.
After showing the 32 people who came to see me the 4 paper websites, I asked them if they would order a dress, and if they would, which website number they would order from. 31 out of 32 said that they would order, and the majority of those who would order (25 out of 31) picked website 4 as the one they would order from. Website 4 was where my new plans were heading, so to have my idea confirmed so positively was really encouraging.
After this test, and after talking to these 32 people and anyone else I could get to chat to me about online shopping, I formed new plan for the website and it’s features. Here’s what I’m now planning at this stage of my research and development. I’m sure there will be more evolutions and additions as things progress, but this is my plan as things are right now –
- The website will contain a selection of dress designs. Each design will have options to customise it, such as fabric colours and choices, option to add overlays, options to pick skirt lengths and add a train, embellishment options, strap and sleeve options etc. This will give people a huge number of combinations so that they can end up with a dress that’s just as they want it, but I still retain the overall control of the designs.
- The dress picture and the price will change as different options are selected.
- The designs will be shown on a variety of models of different dress sizes and body types. Each dress design will have a gallery of dresses showing different customisation options, shown on different body types. There will also be videos and a customer gallery for each dress design.
- The dresses will be available to order in standard and custom sizes.
- All the dress designs will be permanent, so that once you have ordered a dress and know you love it, you can order it again in a different combination.
- There will be limited edition fabrics and embellishments offered for each design.
- Fabric samples will be available to order, so you can see and feel the fabrics and match colours before ordering
- There will be video guides on topics such as how to measure yourself, how to decide which dress suits your figure, how to style the dresses for different events, hair and makeup suggestions, advice on what underwear to wear with your dress.
- There will be girls’ versions of the designs that will also be customisable.
- There will be men’s ties, bowties and pocket squares available to order in the same fabrics and the dress.
- There will be styled shoots and look books to give you inspiration as you design your dress.
- There will be a blog featuring stories on different dress designs, behind-the-scenes and real clients’ events.
There are lots of other little features that I hope to include as well, but I need to start with the most basic, simple version of the site that I can. A lot of the things mentioned above will be added as the business grows.
I’d love to know what you think. Is there’s something that’s important to you when you’re shopping online? Is there something you’d like to see on the new Rockstars and Royalty website that you think I’ve overlooked? Feel free to comment and tell me here, or message me on my Facebook page.