tattoo planning
User Research
Project Overview
Group Members: Stephanie Graf, Julie Rochelle, Sup Suh, Kevin Zimmerman
Tattoo information is widely available on many different platforms that include social networking sites, blogs, and apps. However, there is no single resource available that helps people plan a tattoo from start to finish. In our research, we found that tattoo planning challenges include finding the right style of a tattoo, finding an artist/tattoo shop, and booking an appointment with an artist.

Our team investigated the process of how people have planned or are planning their tattoos with a series of observations, interviews and surveying. This resulted in developing design implications for a technology-based tool that will assist people in their tattoo planning process.
My Role: All team members took part in analyzing all parts of the project as well as equally contributing written content for a final report. My individual contributions to this project include: conducted an observation and an interview, setup and created Stormboard content, created flow diagrams to show search/explore/selection process from our observation analysis, assisted in the creation of spectrums and personas, assembled user survey using Qualtrics, produced user scenarios, provided written content for Conclusions section of our final report (including Implications for Design and Limitations and Future Work sections.)
Observation Findings
During our analysis we found three consistent themes related to the process of planning a tattoo. The three themes are: Search, Exploration and Selection.
Observation Methods
Data Collection
We asked the participant to locate a business or tattoo artist that would fit the style they were looking for using their own personal devices. During the observation sessions, we kept our questions to a minimum, asking only for clarifications.
We analyzed our data using the AEIOU framework then combined our notes into a common table.
After inputing our individual notes from each observation into Stormboard, we reviewed them, grouped them together and identified common themes.
People looking to get a tattoo begin with a search to start gathering information. Searching was not only conducted in the beginning, but was an ongoing activity throughout each observation. All participants conducted multiple searches.
During the observations, all four participants explored the results of their search, evaluated the information based on their personal criteria, and then either continued a cycle of search and exploration, or moved forward to the selection of an artist.
Interview Methods
We interviewed four participants. All participants had multiple tattoos and were looking to get a tattoo within six months.
Data Collection
Our interviews consisted of questions to gather information about our participant's current tattoos, past experiences getting tattoos and technology and/or resources they used when planning a tattoo.

Interview sessions were audio recorded and then transcribed, each lasting between 30 to 45 minutes.
After reviewing our interview notes, we identified potential spectrums of characteristics and behaviors of our participants in order to create personas.
Interview Findings
We categorized our interview findings into three themes related to the process of planning a tattoo: Motivations, Exploration and Interactions.
The amount of exploration into the subject matter, style of tattoo, and tattoo artist influenced the participant's overall experience in the planning process. Each participant's level of research varied. Prompting us to add a "researcher type" characteristic to our personas. Researcher types included:
  • Spontaneous: Spent no time / hours / days researching their most recent tattoo
  • Cautious: Spent months researching their most recent tattoo
  • Vigilant: Spent years researching their most recent tattoo
Resources used during exploration phase:
  • Hardware: personal computer, personal smartphone
  • Social Media / Search Engine: Instagram, Google, Facebook, Reddit, Tumblr
  • Software: Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator
An individual’s interactions with the tattoo artist and the tattoo shop environment greatly influenced experience and satisfaction.
“Oh man, my squirrel [tattoo experience] was good because the artist was just as excited about giving it to me as I was getting it. Tattoo parlors and artists can be kind of intimidating sometimes, so it was sweet to have an artist that was stoked to be putting it on me.”
“I reached out to a tattoo artist before they were going to an area for a stop and they didn’t respond. I never got a response back and I thought that was too impersonal. It wasn’t very professional.”
Survey Methods
Eighty-five participants completed our survey. We recruited participants personally, through social media posts on Facebook and Reddit, and through a DePaul University participant pool.
Data Collection
We used Qualtrics for our survey platform. Our survey prompted questions on the following topics:
  • Previous Tattoos – How many they have, when they got their first and most recent tattoo, favorite tattoos, and tattoos they regret
  • Research – Amount of time they spent researching, information and factors they looked into, non-technical resources they used, and challenges they had
  • Technology – Which devices they used, technology-based tools used, and importance of features in a solution
  • Demographics – Age, gender, location, and occupation
We used our observation and interview data to develop hypotheses that were related to our research:
  • Hypothesis 1 – Spontaneous, cautious, and vigilant persona types research different attributes while planning a tattoo.
  • Hypothesis 2 – Spontaneous, cautious, and vigilant persona types have different preferences of technology features.
Survey Findings
Implications for Design
The goal of our research was to develop design implications for a technology-based tool that will assist people in their tattoo planning process. The implications for design are as follows:
Search Filters
Certain users may only need to search for artists that are capable of a particular style while other users may need to search based on style, location, availability and ratings. In order to satisfy all types of user needs, a key feature of our product is the ability to perform a simple search or an advanced search.
  • A simple search would likely involve style and/or location only. 
  • An advanced search could involve style, location, availability and ratings.

Location Finder & Maps
Based on our findings during the observations, people often use Google Maps to aid in their location based searches. A feature to pinpoint the user’s current or preferred location needs to be included. An interactive map also needs to be present.
Interactive User Accounts
Many of our participants mentioned interacting with others as an important part of their process. Two user account types exist, Customer accounts and Artist accounts. Interactions between users include:
Customers can chat with Artists and other Customers (See Chat Feature next)
Customers can give commentary on an Artist as well as endorse an Artist they have used.
Customers can rate an Artist based on multiple parameters (attitude, sterilization, design of tattoo, fairness of price, etc.).
Chat Feature
Customers can chat with Artists to discuss a tattoo or with another Customer to share information about past experiences, etc. The messaging system will have the ability to send and receive files to allow the discussion of ideas, mockups, or previous tattoos.
Artist Pages
The ability to view an artist’s portfolio was ranked highest in our survey results, followed by the ability to read reviews and rating of the artists. Therefore, Artist accounts will have a public page that includes:
Mobile & Desktop
Our survey showed that 93% of participants used either a computer or their phone when planning a tattoo. A solution needs to consider both laptop and mobile device screens.
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