Research and Mobile App Design with ESP Collective

Investigate how people use hair to communicate their identity and lower anxiety around finding the right barber.


  • Ethnographic research and analysis on how people create their identity through hair, how they find the right barber, and how they communicate style to their barber
  • Mapping the user experience of the barbershop using journey maps and mental model diagrams to find gaps and user needs to address in the mobile app
  • Mobile app design for users to save hairstyles they want to create, find a barber that can create them, and communicate directly to that barber to lower anxiety around changing hairstyles

Project highlights

Field ethnographies at a Philadelphia barbershop to learn how people communicate their desired hairstyle to their barber

Our research team sat in one barbershop to observe communications between barbers and their customers.

Creating personas and user experience maps to communicate research insights pointing to customers' anxiety and communication deficits around changing their hairstyles

Journey maps helped organize our research notes into visualizations of the different types of customer experiences.

We noticed being in a barbershops environment and receiving a haircut sometimes fill different needs for customers.

Based on a combination of type of haircut (new/old) and familiarity with barber, customer anxieties and needs were different.

Designing a mobile app that allows users to save and share their desired hairstyles and find a well-liked barber who can create them

We created storyboards illustrating different use cases for the mobile app and got feedback from barbers and customers.

Here is one of the prototypes of the mobile app screen showing a barber's profile.

Things I learned from this project:

Using design mapping to clearly communicate research insights and prototypes

The beauty and power of field ethnography as a primary research method

Learning about a new subculture I’d never been exposed to before

Thought this project was interesting, or have more questions? Let's chat!

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ESP Collective is a research and design thinking group I co-founded in Fresno,CA. They do consumer research consulting and design projects around culture, identity, and society.