“I’ve had an exceptionally positive experience with Mobelux and would highly recommend their services to anyone seeking a development partner.”
Matt Alexander, Founder & CEO of Need
- User Interface Design
- User Experience Design
- Front End Web Development
- Back End Web Development
In early 2013, Mobelux got an email from Matt Alexander wondering if we could help him build an app that was a hybrid between a retail platform and a digital publication. The idea was intriguing, but honestly, so was the idea of working with Matt. We knew of Matt from his blog, OneThirtySeven and as co-host of Bionic, a popular 5by5 podcast about tech, Britishness, humor, and, well, just about anything.
The primary goal of Matt's new company was to help men stay fashionable without the burdensome experience of endlessly shopping. For most men, finding high quality products is an inconvenient and time consuming task. Matt wanted to curate a destination for fashionable, classic clothing and accessories under a central theme, delivered monthly. His guidance was simple; great writing and stylish photography of stellar products in an editorial layout. A magazine that you could buy from directly.
Initially, we were not tasked with the design of the Need company logo and identity. But since it hadn't been started yet and we had a few ideas, we asked Matt if he wouldn't mind seeing a few concepts. He agreed, so we worked up a few comps and presented him not only logo and icon ideas, but also how that style could be reflected throughout the whole product.
The main challenge with Need's logo was that it had to fulfill a lot of criteria beyond just being beautiful. It had to feel classic and exude a touch of Texas charm. It would also have to stand on its own while complimenting a wide mix of strong product brands.
To further extend the identity, a suite of custom icons were crafted to reinforce Need's unique offering in the market. We envisioned them leading off each product photography section and standing for the content expected beneath, whether that was "Shirts", "Timepieces" or "Trousers" (Matt's British heritage makes him allergic to calling them pants).
Need required much more than great design. We had to develop an interface that would work great whether you were clicking or tapping on it. It was key to the product strategy that Need feel as natural on an iPhone or iPad as it did in a desktop browser. Since Matt's original vision was for Need to debut as an app, we decided to design a mobile-first responsive front end and scale the design up to desktop, a pattern that might seem to go against mainstream logic, but in this case ensured that all mobile use cases were well accounted for.
To rent or to buy?
During the initial strategy sessions we discussed leveraging an existing platform, like Shopify, to save on time and budget while reducing some of the complexities related to developing a custom platform. But Matt was building Need on quality for the long haul. It quickly became clear that having the flexibility to build exactly what he needed was of paramount importance. In this case that meant a custom ecommerce content management system (CMS). While we believe in leveraging existing platforms when appropriate, we never go that route if we feel that it would paint our client (or us) into a corner. We rebalanced the project to build the engine first and bring features online as needed.
Work progressed, wireframes turned into interfaces and Need started to take shape. Through rapid iteration and consistent, honest communication we shipped feature after feature until the parts began to resemble the whole. That last month of development was a whirlwind of product photographs and copy editing, but we were driven to get Need in front of people for the Christmas shopping season. While we were busy building Need, Matt was busy forging relationships with some great brands and had recruited a top-notch photographer for the inaugural shoot. On November 5th, 2013, Vol. 1 of Need went live.
Need, as many of the products that Mobelux partners on, is a story still being told. With every volume we continue maintaining and expanding the concept alongside Matt, bringing it ever closer to its potential. We add and subtract. Redirect and refine. All towards a common goal of crafting an exceptional, approachable shopping platform for the 21st century. After all, those trousers aren't going to just sell themselves, now are they?