'Imagine you're a Disney animator and you've got to learn how to draw Bambi.'
We caught up with Dev Moran, Senior Designer at ustwo to find out a little more about the creation of our exciting new Lush app (... and what it's got to do with Bambi)
First things first, can you tell us a little more about who ustwo are?
We’re a digital products studio. We’re almost a decade old now so will be celebrating our tenth anniversary this year! We’ve got four studios now in London, New York, Malmö in Sweden and Sydney in Australia, serving clients big and small across the world.
How did your collaboration with Lush come about?
The guys (Lush Creative Director Andy Russell and Digital Designer Adam Goswell) saw something we did – a game called Monument Valley - and they were aware of us in the market from a previous relationship they had. They liked what we had done with Monument Valley so invited us down to Poole to put forward a pitch. It was fairly traditional in that sense.
I think the reason you guys were keen to work with us is because you could learn agile software development, which is a system of methodology. It’s a way of going about making software that is really fast and gets good results, particularly because it lacks waste in the way you go about it which is great. Andy and Adam were really keen to learn about it and actually make stuff with it.
The first thing we did after that was a quick brand immersion which meant sitting down with Andy and Adam to understand what Lush have got. That's part of the fun. Imagine you're an animator, like a Disney animator, and you've got to learn how to draw Bambi. Then you spend the next year drawing Bambi before learning the next character. You adopt the style of the client you're working with but you're also aware that what they're coming to you for is a breath of fresh air as well.
In what ways is the ustwo way of working similar to the ethos of Lush?
You’re a much bigger company, but your digital branch is similar in shape and ethos to how we were a couple of years back. Digital’s a little bit younger than us but in a sense we have a similar culture. We try and bring in clients as close as humanly possible in terms of the working relationship with us and that’s something we did with you guys.
We’ve had Adam here for quite a lot of time and he’s basically been one of the team rather than a client we’re serving and the only way you can do that is if there’s a cultural fit. That’s everything: that’s sense of humour; it’s outlook on life generally, the ability to swap stories; knowing where each other is coming from.
What about the app? What key features can customers expect to see?
One of the things that we wanted to bring forward from www.lush.co.uk is the discovery of ingredient provenance and the ability to explain the benefits of the ingredients. Yes, you can expect an app in which you can really, really easily buy stuff but that’s just the starting point. Beyond that, I would be happy if I heard that people were just spending half an hour mucking about with the ingredients, which I think people are actually. That’s really nice.
It’s about content discovery and purchasing and customers can expect everything to hang together nicely and be fast with fast, stable software. We kept coming back to this thing of it all being frictionless, so paying is frictionless, finding stuff is frictionless, adding to your basket is frictionless.
Looking to the future, what's in store for the app?
By releasing a small features app we’re actually asking people how they use it. The best thing for us is if we release this high quality smaller thing that operates really well and then people say, “Oh yeah, but what about wishlists?” or “What about PayPal?” We want to know from your customers what they desire before we go ahead and build stuff. The reason we thought we could do it was because of how engaged the Lush customers and the Lush community and staff are. It's a brand where people have a lot to say about it and a lot of opinions. It's not - without getting too mushy - like any other cosmetics company. We have to use that asset; we have to use those people and use the feedback to learn what they actually want and are going to use.
Have you ever been surprised by the response you've got?
We test with people all the way along. We'll start on paper like we will draw something on a napkin; we did this for the Lush app. In the first week we were in Regent's Street asking customers and staff what they thought of this silly idea we'd just introduced to search by scents and search by how you want to feel when you use the products. What came out was, 'Well that's what I usually say to people when they come in: how do you want to feel?' and then customers were saying, 'The reason I come into the shop is beause I can't tell how it's going to smell online', so if you can give an indication of whether something has floral notes or is very fruity or woody that's great. I think if you do things early you get the best results long term, so that's why I don't tend to be surprised by stuff.
Final question: in your spare time, which apps couldn't you live without?
Airbnb! Instagram and Twitter. Is that slightly boring?! Also, the app Figure which is something to make music with. It's called Propellerhead Figure, I use it loads and it's really fun. It makes train journeys really palatable and you get good ideas out of it. That's what I do in my other life outside work. I write and record music and tend to have little bits going on in my phone to muck around with.
To discover the app for yourself, download it from the app store now! We'd love to hear what you think. Please send all thoughts to [email protected].