Bride

Lover.ly, the wedding-focused visual search engine and ecommerce platform, is spreading its wings and launching on mobile. To be clear Loverly already has a mobile optimized website, but in today’s app-dominated world, that’s seen a second class experience. Today’s launch of its native iOS app gives the company home screen real estate on its users’ smartphones and allows the company to create a much more enjoyable and tailored experience.

When considering the design and functionality of the App, CEO Kellee Khalil turned to her existing user data. More than 30 percent of all of Lover.ly’s traffic comes from mobile, with the overwhelming majority of users using an iPhone (and a surprisingly high number of iPod touches). In a distant second were Android smartphones, then iPads, and a negligible number of Android tablets.

WIth this data, the team made the decision to focus on the iPhone, despite the initial instinct to focus on the iPad given Lover.ly’s photo-heavy nature. Khalil is hoping to see 80 percent of her of current iOS-based mobile users download the app.

The bigger takeaway was that consumers behave differently on their small screens than they do on the desktop web.

While they were spending a significant amount of time browsing on the mobile website, Lover.ly users were not “loving” (tagging) content, or “saving it to their bundles” with anywhere near the frequency they do on a PC, Khalil says. As a result, the Lover.ly app is designed first and foremost for casual consumption.

Lover.ly for the Web is more about active search. Brides and aspirational brides-to-be can search through photographs of wedding fashions and decor according to theme, color, category, and keyword. On the new mobile version, search de-prioritized.

“We have seen people using the mobile site as a passive time waster, but we think that’s great,” Khalil says. “We expect different behavior on different platforms. If a woman sees our app as a consumption tool, that’s perfect, and that’s what we’re going to give her.”

The app offers an infinitely scrollable Instagram-like feed of images which can be consumed passively while waiting in line at the grocery store, coffee shop, or at a red light (admit it, you’ve done it). Lover.ly chose to go with large, full-screen images for its app, rather than a Pinterest-style staggered half-screen-width column approach. Behind each image, the user can view the vendors used in corresponding wedding and the tags associated, as well as save or share the image through social media, email and text.

The new app also eliminates the ability to click through an image to view its original source. Lover.ly has partnered with dozens of premium wedding and lifestyle blogs, as well as retailers to source its content. The business is built on the idea that the platform drives audience back to these primary sources, at which time Lover.ly shares in the advertising revenue. By limiting this to the Web only, the startup is taking a calculated gamble, but one driven by user behavior.

The other feature left on the cutting room floor is commerce. Lover.ly recently launched a Shop section of its site which allows users to brows through wedding-related products – primarilly fashion and accessories – which it can then click through to buy from a partner retailer. Users of the new mobile app will need to tag and save images which can be browsed, and purchased, the next time they’re on the Web. Unlike above, this last decision was as much about development resources as it was about user experience, according to Khalil.

Lover.ly has raised $968,000 from Joanne Wilson, Michael Edwards, Michael Yavonditte, Charles Smith, Anu Duggal, Jordan Levy, Rick Webb, and others.

Lover.ly’s mobile app demonstrates that when expanding to additional platforms it’s critical to design specifically for the new use case, rather than simply porting an existing legacy experience. The company made several tradeoffs along the way, but each was done knowingly, and with the goal of improving user experience. The end result is a beautiful and usable app that will allow the company to continue to delight its users wherever on the devices they choose most.L

[Image source: SassyCoutureCo, Etsy]