Net-a-Porter creative director explains ‘challenging’ design process of social shopping network The Net Set

Earlier this month fashion e-tailer Net-a-Porter released a fashion-focused, shoppable social platform, named The Net Set to allow consumers to find inspiration and speak with other fashion fans. The Drum caught up with creative director Alexandra Hoffnung who explained the challenges of approaching the design for the mobile app and what the future holds.

“Being set the challenge of designing something that is respectful and has a very strong nod to the Net-a-Porter brand but also has a point of difference is very challenging,” says Hoffnung as she talks through the rationale for the mobile app, which has been two years in the making.

The beta version of The Net Set started out as The Net Book, a proof of concept app based on a diary or Filofax that women could store ideas in. It’s successor, says Hoffnung is much more paired down and streamlined to reflect the shift in style of Apple’s iOS7 update.

The brief for The Net Set was to create an app that would feel fresh, part of the Net-a-Porter family but with its own identity to draw it apart from the e-tailer’s main branding.

The result is a design that incorporates Net-a-Porter’s well-known monochrome design but for the first time uses a splash of red as a highlight state for the navigation tab at the bottom of the app and as a selection indicator.

The process was not “an easy ride” stresses Hoffnung who went through “a lot” of iterations together with Net-a-Porter founder Natalie Massenet. “You have a lot of people who are very passionate about how Net-a-Porter looks as a brand- it’s been that way for 15 years so it’s very established and being able to be respectful of that and take certain elements of it that work for this project and integrating it with new ones is very challenging.”

Hoffnung also introduced a new font, Avenir, to take into account the user experience on a small screen as well as a new serif font called Miller. Net-a-Porter uses a similar font but this was “cut a bit heavier” for digital usage to give it the weight that it needed to be legible on mobile.

Since launch last Wednesday (13 May) the app has been downloaded 10,000 times and has received “phenomenal feedback” with regards to user experience and the flow of the design.

“As a creative director you have to be so in tune with user experience as well as design – we never would approach something just because we liked the way it looked,” says Hoffnung. “The role of the designer has changed a lot over the last couple of years, you have to be so much more in tune with how products behave as well as how they look.”

In terms of future updates, Hoffnung says the app will receive new features on a monthly basis and will add in new functionality such as video should consumers express a demand.

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