A new way of reading love and romance fiction, written by and for women and LGBTQ of color
About the project
My client, Five Four Ventures, LLC is a venture capital and incubation firm that spun off of Broadway Video Ventures, the venture arm to Lorne Michaels's Company that produced SNL, 30 Rock, The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. Five-Four incubates startups, primarily in the new media space, and Slide was born out of this.
Slide is a mobile app for reading love and romance short stories in a new storytelling format (via text message chats), written by and for women and LGBTQ of color. The app launched in Dec 2018 on the Apple App Store.
MY ROLE AND OUR TEAM
As the sole designer, I led Mobile Product Design, Branding, Visual Identity, and Art Direction. I worked with the Venture's CEO, Head of Product, Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Content Strategist, and their contracted tech partners (PM and iOS Developers).
Chat fiction for all
2017 and 2018 gave rise to chat fiction, a format of web fiction written solely in the form of text-message or instant messaging conversations, with apps like Yarn raising $14 Million and Hooked getting a 560% jump in app downloads from 336K to 2.2M in one year. Five-Four wanted a piece of this pie, but knew they had to establish a unique value proposition for share of the market.
They found that there was historic underrepresentation of women and LGBTQ of color in the most popular fiction genre, love and romance, both as leading characters and as authors in these stories.
These insights presented an emerging opportunity to build a platform that gives voice to women and LGBTQ of color, to produce and distribute content in this new trending media format, geared for people like them. The idea was to start with love and romance stories, and expand genres after testing for product-market fit.
Building a brand and visual identity from the ground up
I developed the brand tone by creating word associations from sample story content and keywords the client mentioned while describing their branding and design preferences.
I then used the word associations to create a visual moodboard of concepts to build a visual language for the brand.
BRAND TONE AND VISUAL LANGUAGE
Candids with a grainy, noisy look or exposed flash, high-contrast look captured an authentic, unfiltered, in-the-moment feel.
Photos that played with shadows, from semi-lit faces to shadows against the wall created a sense of sensual mystery.
Warm color lighting or filters on the skin, bronze shades, and skin glow accentuated the radiant beauty of darker skin tones.
Body part close ups gave a real and raw sensory experience.
Graphic, illustrated erotica playfully communicated guilty pleasures
Florals symbolized life, blossoming into one’s own, and femininity.
TYPE AND COLOR STUDIES
TYPE SYSTEM AND COLOR PALETTE
I considered usability and accessibility with every design choice and explored how type, color, layout and UI would translate on a more complex screen like the main discover screen filled with dynamic content and varying data elements.
I applied color theory and A11y color to choose colors that balanced both brand tone and accessibility.
With a limited budget and mobile real estate space, I focused on pairing together free and readable fonts.
EARLY DESIGN EXPLORATIONS ON MAIN DISCOVERY SCREEN
The details are not the details. They make the design.
— Charles Eames
Hard rectangular edges of cover images and buttons, and 3D effect to buttons give bold, popping, edgy look and feel to the app.
Floating and sticky “My Stories” button makes it easier to access your stories in progress while also distinguishing it from the other story categories in the Discover screen.
Thoughtful choice and placement of emojis throughout the app celebrate a beloved part of western digital pop culture, add delight, and promote inclusion of the people it’s designed for—Women and LGBTQ of Color.