rhea jayachandran

VSCO Case Study


Visual Supply Company (shortened VSCO) is a photo-editing and sharing app that lets users make quality edits in a matter of seconds. As one of my favorite and go-to apps in the art space, I set out to see what improvements could be made.

Note: I am not affiliated with VSCO, merely just a fan of their product

(Also on Medium as a blog post)


The Goal

In order to figure out how to make it better, I had to first find out what was difficult to use. The first step was to identify the pain points in accessing the core functions of VSCO’s app and prototype a solution.

Finding the Pain Points


To begin, I created a provisional persona of a potential VSCO user. I mapped out the needs, goals, and motivations of a VSCO user. With further research, this persona will be edited to better reflect the VSCO user.


The next step was to create design stories of VSCO -- essentially listing out everything the app can do -- and narrow it down to the core functions based on my interactions with the app and the assumptions I have of the company:

  1. Import a photo from the camera roll
  2. Take a photo within the app
  3. Add a filter
  4. Make manual edits (e.g. adjust contrast and exposure, crop, etc.)
  5. Publish a photo on VSCO
  6. Publish a photo on Instagram
  7. Follow someone on VSCO


I headed to Yerba Buena Gardens to perform guerrilla usability testing, getting seven participants to follow a series of situational tasks I had laid out for them. I had them run through four tasks including: taking a photo through the app, uploading a photo, and adding a filter to a photo.

Pain points sorted by user (left), then by pain point (right)

Synthesis and prioritization of pain points

The usability tests uncovered four main pain points which I have ordered taking into consideration the importance to the user as well as the importance to the business:


 The joystick feature caused 7/7 users difficulty when moving within the app


The “Publish” button (denoted by a symbol) has options to post to VSCO, Facebook, and Twitter. To publish to Instagram, users had to access the “share” feature which was hidden somewhere else.


 7/7 users struggled to find the camera (accessed through the joystick). Once a picture is taken, the camera has no indicator that a photo was captured and, as a result, 3/7 users took several photos before realizing anything had happened.

Because of these pain points, 4/7 users resorted to clicking around until something worked.


Design Decisions

I decided to tackle the first three pain points. The fourth, I hoped, would be taken care of as a result. 

Existing homepage; the button acts as a joystick - clicking and holding will bring up menu on right

Existing homepage; the button acts as a joystick - clicking and holding will bring up menu on right


The menu

Adding a tab bar lays out the main functions of the app immediately for the user. Everything in the joystick feature can be found in the tab bar, in addition to the social profile and publish option.



Clicking the publishing option on the tab bar will bring up the following menus. I have consolidated everything under the “share” function, making it a one-stop for posting on social media.


The camera

I also combined both the “import” option and the “take photo” option into one button (the camera on the tab bar). Since editing photos is the main function of the app, it is the center option in the tab bar.


Additional features

I made a couple extra changes based on my research results that didn’t necessarily have their own pain points but fell under the overall usability of the app:

Play with me, I'm interactive!