Transforming the way people book photoshoots

Shoot was a marketplace website for connecting photographers with customers that want to book high quality photoshoot experiences.

This callout is for projects that are under strict NDA. That means I cannot share a lot of information or even screenshots publicly. Should also include my email at nabilahsan95@gmail.com so interested parties can reach out to talk about the project.

Overview

I was the Web Developer, and Technical Co-founder, and later the Product Designer.

I was also in-charge of project management, deciding which features to focus on during each sprint periods. All major decisions would involve all the team members before being added to a sprint and executed.

Tasks
  • User Research
  • LoFi Designs and Wireframes
  • Prototyping
  • Project Management
  • Web Development
  • Beta Testing
Tools
  • Figma
  • Trello
  • VSCode
  • Hotjar
Role

UX Designer and Cofounder

Timeline

August 2018 - April 2019

Problem Statement

Research showed that customers didn't always know how to find the right photographer. They would rely on word of mouth.

The current booking process was a hassle i.e. not having all the options available to the customers, including the price.

Outcome

We proved that the market wanted a product like Shoot and that it can serve even more people in more cities with the right team, tools, and funding.

We experienced first-hand what it was like to build a business as a team, and what it meant to have a great impact on the lives of our customers.

$3500
Revenue
40
Photoshoot Bookings

We did our research

We interviewed 100 potential customers in the Houston area.

Our initial research revealed that a lot of photographers did not have pricing information or any booking functionality on their website, or they didn't even have a website at all and relied only on Instagram.

This meant the customer had to juggle between different websites, call or email the photographer to get the information they need, only to realize that it didn’t meet their needs.

We started approaching people in coffee shop, student centers, and other places near campus to find out who would pay for a service like Shoot. We narrowed it down to who our customers were:

- Women early in their career
- Male and female college students

These demographics understood just how important personal branding is, and how important it is to have a good photoshoot, both the photos and the experience.

The Plan: Creating the MVP

We decided that in order to succeed, the platform MUST be able to offer these core features:

  1. Display the top local photographers in the Houston area.
  2. Showcase each photographer’s portfolio and their pricing packages.
  3. A booking form that allows the customer to send a booking request.

We had already reached out to photographers that showed interest on being part of Shoot and had all their information. We realized we can build a minimum valuable product with using HTML, CSS, and a little bit of JavaScript.

Home Page

We decided to include four categories. We had graduation, headshots, couples, and even professional photos. Our homepage shows four photographers from each of those categories. Clicking on "View More" took customers to the dedicated homepage.

We also saw that our initial assumption of Shoot being used on desktop was wrong and that most our customers were mostly college students who were discovering Shoot through Instagram. So the mobile site had to function perfectly and deliver flawless experience to our customers.

I repurposed a image slider Javascript plugin and used it to display our photographer profile cards so that users can easily browse through different offerings.

Photographer Profile

We wanted to keep this experience very simple. Our customers wanted to see the photographer's portfolio, the prices, and what they are getting for the price. Our photographers sent us their hourly rates at first, but we worked with them to create packages with certain perks, since that is what our customers were looking for

Photographer Booking

We didn't have a method for taking payment ON the website, however we were able to take booking requests. So I set up the form that will take the user's information, allowing them to select which package they want to book the photographer for, and what would be the date of the photoshoot.

How we received the booking requests

On the left is an example of what we would see when a customer would book a photographer. We would follow up with the photographer to check their availability and then confirm the photoshoot with the client.

This aspect of the booking process was handled by my partner, Simbai. He followed up with both the photographers and customers to make sure everything was in order for the photoshoot, including advance payment. The booking confirmation emails were created using MailChimp.

Results

We launched during the Spring college graduation season of 2019 at the University of Houston.

It was a success! Marketing was done on campus through flyers, word of mouth, and social media, primarily Instagram.

$3500
Revenue
40
Photoshoot Bookings

We were able to prove what we hypothesized, that the market wanted a product like Shoot, and that with more funding and the more team members, it could expand to cities all across the United States.

What could I have done differently?

Asking users more targeted questions.
We did 100 interviews but those were mostly for discovery and I should have done those as a UX designer.

Exploring other solutions.
I was too concerned with trying to be a good front-end developer and did not look at other ways to build the website e.g. Webflow or No-Code solutions available at the time.

Should have said “no” more often.
Small UI change requests and such from my cofounders ate up a lot of my time. I accepted it because it didn’t seem like a big deal but those added up.

UI design went downhill as we got to the end of the project.
We spent so much effort on the homepage and the profile and booking pages took a massive hit. It was very noticeable to me, but I couldn't do anything about it.

Going from wireframes to code.
I skipped designing a high fidelity solution and testing it. It would have saved us the time that was wasted on redesigning the new cards.

Concept

I left my startup in May of 2019. Before I left, I ideated some design mock ups. Our goal was to design the app entirely and reach out to potential contractors or agencies who would be able to execute on our vision.