Build and brand a wine club platform in the theme of Unscrewed

ROLE
UI, UX, Visual Design, Project Lead, Backend Logic

The online wine club ecosystem was young and ripe for innovative new entrants. And people were routinely asking me to sell them wines I loved. “You pick,” they’d say. So I was selling them curated selections of wines for fun and they were delighted.

Can I scale that delight?

I decided to build a custom wine club platform on top of the Unscrewed app. In keeping with it’s value theme, the idea was for customers to discover three outstanding, underpriced wines every month.

(Note: product at www.unscrewed.com/explorer is idle and currently behind a firewall for security reasons. Please inquire if you’d like to see the full site.)

So the challenge was to design a web app that succinctly conveyed Unscrewed’s value proposition to visitors and guided them swiftly to a frictionless checkout.

 

Time to build

Scoping the product took on added complexity for two reasons:

  • It needed to share authentication/accounts with the Unscrewed app, i.e., users of one app should be able to log into the other.
  • It needed to allow for saved credit cards and recurring billing.

Due to PCI compliance and authentication limitations, off the shelf solutions were completely out. The product had to be custom built atop the Unscrewed application.

This made for a more involved project, but also allowed more nuance.

After interviewing my target customers (my existing users) for feedback, particularly around the question of size (3 bottles) and price ($15-20), the homepage and checkout sequence began to take shape.

Contrarian Pitch
For the theme and pitch to customers, I took a contrarian approach to the big wine clubs that sell on fluffy sentiment that obfuscates the crappiness of their wines:

For the all-important CTA, I wanted to allay any concern about our service, our wines or our bona fides. I didn’t want shipping or quality risk to keep people out of the shopping cart. Further, a risk-free guarantee supports the confidence we’re projecting in our pitch:

Following on the no nonsense theme, I wanted the checkout sequence to be simultaneously sticky and frictionless.

Sticky: I wanted users to be committed to a stepped process:

Choose wine types > get excited > choose delivery frequency > get excited > checkout > get excited

Frictionless: I wanted users to create accounts and input credit cards in the fastest manner possible. No superfluous details required. On the CC side, Stripe APIs allow for subscriptions (harder to do off-the-shelf than you might think) and minimal inputs (name, exp., zip.), which allowed me to design the simplest checkout sequence possible:

And of course the all the custom UI and checkout screens had to be optimized on mobile, which was non-trivial for a custom build.

Result

I was actually very pleased with the final product. It was a rather tedious little build with all the custom UI checkout components, the backend integration with Unscrewed and the subscription capabilities. But the result was really cool and I’m proud of it.

The product launched, worked, and had customers. But it came at a moment when Unscrewed, the parent app, was in need of life support. The product sits idle, but I believe this club is nicely differentiated and viable.

What do you think?