As the amount of pictures taken with smartphones has been rising exponentially, both Google and Apple responded with “photos” solutions that make the task of keeping one’s gallery organised seem daunting. We set out to create a better solution, that builds on top of the native apps and that puts users in control.
Utiful is the 3rd iteration of a longer design and development process. We started with StoreDone, a handy app that helps you do your grocery shopping. Noticing the habit people have of taking pictures as a reference, we pivoted to SnapSponge, an app that collects these pictures and cleans up one’s camera roll; When we understood that users do not only desire just a place for these pictures, but also ways to organise these, we finally pivoted to Utiful. This was only possible by working with a founder that understands the importance of centering the product around user feedback.
I joined the project from the very beginning and became the sole responsible for the UX & UI of the project, and often acted as a bridge between the founder and the developers.
Pivoting from Store Done to SnapSponge to Utiful (Play/App Store screens from left to right).
We aimed to design Utiful in a way that mirrors the feel of the native OS, making users feel as comfortable as possible. We also aimed to cut through the increasing complexity of features of the native app, avoiding features and terms such as “collections” and “moments”. Our approach is reflected in the logo, the flow of the user experience, as well as in the visual style.
We took inspiration from how iOS handles folders to create a similar experience in Utiful.
Even though users demanded powerful organisation features for pictures they took for later reference, it was unclear to us how to explain to new users the concept of separating these in a non-native app. It took us months of A/B testing and on-boarding experiments to figure out how to explain this to users.
A set of our on-boarding experiments that explains what kind of pictures Utiful is for.
Based on the user feedback we collected, we expanded, reduced and adapted the feature set. We expanded from Android to iOS, added syncing between iPhone and iPad, and catered the app for seven different languages.
As Utiful inherited new functionalities, we designed a system of logos that works for the Utiful app family. The logo design reflects the hierarchical relationship between Utiful (the main app) and its satellite apps. The latter ones are visually distinct but recognisable as part of the larger Utiful family.
A scalable system of logos: Utiful and its satellite apps.
Currently, Utiful is a paid app with 10k+ installs on the AppStore & PlayStore. We’re humbled to have received fantastic feedback and the team is ceaselessly building upon it to make improvements.
Utiful’s performance on the AppStore & PlayStore (June 2018)
Being able to explain your product is a important as building it. Good research and design increase the chances of success, but it must be accompanied by great business modelling and marketing.