Chattr

The redesign of the online dating experience

With many women in my life currently looking for a significant other,
I realized how scary the experience of online dating world is.

Many existing dating apps leave many users feeling frustrated and burnt out from the repetition of meeting people only to find out they were not the right ones. In this project I set up to solve and recreate a dating app that was different and focused on creating more meaningful matches.

Click to view prototype

Problem Space

Ellen is a human factors specialist working in the medical tech space. After trying out all the different apps that are out there, she's really frustrated and starts to lose hope of ever meeting someone right.

When Ellen is on the popular dating apps she often meets people who make her feel uncomfortable, people who makes her question her choice in trying online dating apps.

Does this story sound familiar?

With the ongoing pandemic and social distancing safety concerns meeting someone is simply too difficult. Was there truly not a better way for people to utilize technology to find future partners?

36%

of women ages 18-34
felt online dating was not a safe way to meet people

70%

Increase in in-app audio and video calls since
the start of the pandemic

43%

of all online dating app users are millennials

Dating apps are popular
but I’m not comfortable because of fake accounts and not knowing what is real until I actually meet them

There’s only a 50% chance that I will meet my future partner through online dating

Objective and Goal

Existing apps to meet people often focus on just meeting people but don’t address the safety of participants. That lead me to my first initial objective.

How might we make women feel safe
meeting people online for the first time

View other ideas

Assumptions

In order to tackle this problem I started out by writing assumptions and evaluating which were important to validate. The key assumptions were ranked based on risk to the project and ease of validation.

  1. A

    Women want a better way to safely meet people online

  2. B

    Women feel unsafe about using meeting people online

  3. C

    Users are finding it more difficult to safely meet due to COVID

  4. D

    There are some negative connotations about using online dating apps

  5. E

    The lack of information that can be verified scares people

  6. F

    Women know what they want in a relationship and what they are looking for

  7. G

    Different expectations between parties causes unhappiness

  8. H

    There are unpleasant dating experiences that can be avoided

  9. I

    Users dislike creating a profile or feel like the profile doesn’t fully represent them

Hypothesis

I created my main hypothesis that I wanted to test from user interviews.

I believe that women are searching for a better way to meet people online. I will know this is true when I see improved user feedback on their perceived safety and quality of matches.
I know this is wrong when users rather utilize other methods to meet people.

Primary Research

Because I wanted to understand people’s inherent attitudes towards online dating and get qualitative data, I selected to do over the phone interviews to understand what the current online dating experience was like.

Interviewees were selected based on the following criteria. To simplify the the process, I decided to focus on heterosexual relationships as the first iteration of the app. All the different relationship types can be added in future iterations.

Interviewee Selection Criteria

  • Heterosexual men and women in North America

  • Has had experiences with dating apps

  • Age low 24s to 38 (millennials)

Interviewees

Here are all the interviewees I was able to reach out to:

Insights

The following were the top 3 key insights generated from the interviews

Insight 1

Dating pool size

The promise of fresh faces or new people
is what gets me to try a new app

If I were to use specific [niche] apps
it would narrow down the pool way too much

It’s a really big time commitment
to go through all the profiles

Insight 2

Hard to initiate

Prompts in Hinge really help me
associate more and find things to talk about

It’s hard to find the energy after work
to get through the initial talking stages

It’s nice to respond to prompts
vs just trying to reply to a photo

Insight 3

Effort in keeping the chat going

I find that [online dating] can be exhausting,
there are lots of nice people...but it takes a lot of effort to keeping the chat going organically

I really want people to just respond on time
and keep the conversation going

Online dating is takes a lot of effort,
meeting in person is just so much easier

Insight 4

Developing organic relationships

I want to get to know someone as friends and
as time goes on, our feelings reciprocate
and the feeling kinda grows

The relationship really fostered together as we spent more and more time together
and deeply connected

View additional insights

Primary and Secondary Persona

From these pain points, motivations and insights, I was able to create two separate personas based off my initial proto-personas.

Ellen Chen, the primary persona, is the user seeking a serious relationship.

She does not want to waste any more time with people who might not be right for her. Most of the algorithms don't seem to be working for her and she's really frustrated with the online dating process.

Olive Wong is still unsure of what she is looking for. She knows she wants to find someone eventually so she is more to just make new friends outside of their friend circle.

It can be frustrating for her that it's almost frowned upon to use online dating apps and the enormous pressure it brings when she meets someone it's already called a "match".

User Experience Map

From here, I decided to focus on solving Ellen's key painpoints. To get a better understanding, I mapped her journey from onboarding all the way to connecting with someone and having that connection end.

Opportunities

Opportunity #1

Browsing through profiles

Improve and create a curated profile recommendation to reduce the burden of choice

Opportunity #2

Starting the conversation

Suggest and recommend topics to discuss when meeting someone new - to help the conversation be more organic.

Opportunity #3

Keeping the chat alive

Help nudge/remind participants in a chat to respond, and when conversation is exhausted, create new prompts to keep the conversation going.

Further persona refinement

I dug deeper into further additional statistics to refine my user group. In an online resource,
I was able to find the top 3 countries that was willing to pay for online dating services.

From this I decided to refine my user group even more.

My design will be focused on millennials
of asian descent living in North America.

This would allow the app to tap into the Chinese market eventually - greatly increasing business opportunities.

Problem Space Pivot

From my interviews, almost all interviewees expressed that they felt safe meeting people online. This was unexpected and different than my initial hypothesis.

This lead me to pivot the problem space to create better connections. My new hypothesis is that through creating better suited connections, Ellen can reduce a lot of the frustrations during her journey.

How might we make women feel safe
meeting people online for the first time?

How might we let women find and create better connections
so that they can have a better and safer experience?

Competitive Research

To generate ideas for features, I reviewed all competitors within the dating apps world. This showed a gap in the problem space for a brand new dating app that had imployed a better algorithm, but also focused more on the personality of profiles. By finding people who are closer in traits and personalities, their relationship can also grow organically - something the interviewees iterated over and over again.

It's not a match, it's a chat

Another important distinction that will be key to make not call messages matches. By calling conversation matches, it's creating unnecessary burden and pressure on both parties. My interviewees expressed that their ideal process would be to

Task flow development

From Ellen's user journey, I developed different tasks flows based on her needs and the gap within the existing market. I created over 40 different user journeys to capture all the pain points and goals of the user.

User Journeys

Main Task flow

From evaluating the key areas of opportunities, Epic 3 and Epic 4 for sign up and registration were chosen as the main task flow. This flow would cover all 3 opportunities for Ellen: To create a curated profile, find someone that matches what she is looking for to initiate a chat.

This flow was improved after user testing as people were confused initially when the app did not follow other dating app sign up flows. The answering of prompts and conducting a visual affinity test was also moved to a secondary flow after feedback that the length of the registration process might decrease app conversion rate.

Inspirations

In order to develop, ideate, and develop my sketches and wireframes, here were some of the inspirations I used.

View Inspiration Moodboard

Initial Sketches

Here are some of the initial wireframes I sketched from my inspiration. Testing out some of the different chat views and profiles

Iteration and Testing

In order to improve the overall usability of the app

Version 2 Wire Frame

Version 1 Wire Frame

Version 3 Wire Frame

Overall, I conducted two rounds of user testing, with 5 different users in each round of testing for a total of 10 different users.

The following are the tasks that I ask the users to conduct during the test.

User Tasks

For user testing, I asked the user to go through the registration process as a brand new user to the app.

  1. Registering a new account

  2. Speak with Eros about you preferences

  3. Select photos and write Bio

  4. Start a conversation

Testing Insight 1: Unclear Modals

One of the main insights during user testing was the confusion from some of the modals. I improved the modals by keeping and incorporating more relevant information like below.

1. Modal title naming

This gives the context and setting of why the modal appeared

2. Clearer descriptions

Explain what the user needs to do to resolve the notification

Testing Insight 2: Intrusive and Ignored Popups

Majority of the users ignored the notifications and when a modal was tried, it was too intrusive to the overall experience.

To mitigate it I used a built in banner to notify users so they can check it in their own time.

Post Testing Survey

In order to confirm and evaluate if the changes in the process and variations had a positive impact on the user experience, a qualitative test was conducted through google forms.

From the post testing survey results conducted there were still some opportunities to clear up the sign up flow, especially regarding how to to set various profile filters, and how to discuss that with Eros. Through the changes, there was clear positive impacts in the interaction experiences with Eros. It would be important to conduct further testing in the clarity and usability of the sign up flow until it is completed and statistically significant.

View Testing Results

Final Prototype

Click to view prototype

Key Features

Smart AI, smart insights, smart connections

One of the key features that I focused on in the app was utilizing an AI chat bot to learn the preferences of the user over time in order to recommend the right profiles. This means Ellen now has:

  • Reduced selection anxiety to go through all the profiles

  • Only the right profiles are show to the user - but still ability to "explore"

  • The goal becomes to learn about themselves and enjoy the journey vs focusing on end results

Showing off personalities

Majority of the interviewees expressed that when they were looking for something serious, most dating website focus only on looks. By utilizing prompts similar to "Hinge's" design, people will be able to see these prompts and better gauge who the other person is before deciding to chat with them.

Tailored Preferences - because preferences is not just black and white

One of the insights I received from one of the interviewees was the fact that many of the app preferences didn't include visual appearances, nor did it include the ability to set dynamic preferences.

Marketing Website

I developed a responsive marketing website to showcase the work with a mobile and desktop layout.

View Desktop Site
View Mobile Site

Visual Identity

More A than B Brainstorming

More Fun than Serious
More Spring than Summer
More Bright than Dull
More Colourful than Shares of Grey

Associated Words

Hope
Wander
Excitement
Joy
Serene
Fun

Mood Board

Brand Colour Selection

Using a colour wheel calculator, I explored using the triadic harmonies for other possible accent colours for my primary brand colours.

Logo Design

App Icon Design

The main Inspiration for the icon app design colours was instagram's icon. Instagram represented a place where there was a variety of content, and people, which reflected well with the brand's feeling

Multi Platform

Majority of dating apps are present only on mobile due to the persona and discrete nature of the apps. However, another consideration for the future could be for designing through smart glass wearable technology so people can better connect their lives together. Another application could be to utilize the smart sensor technology in apple watches to use data such as heart rates to determine and evaluate how someone may feel towards someone else who they are chatting with.

Takeaway

1. Conducting a post test survey would've allowed better refining and prioritization of changes and edits

It was only after the second user test, I realized creating a post testing survey to get quantative results would be much better than just comparing task success. After the initial edit, the task success rate significantly increased; however, there were still areas of improvements and insights that was much easier to gleam and evaluate once they were compared side to side.

2. Don’t redesign an existing process - reinvent the wheel

In the effort to create a “different” dating app experience, I tried to not following existing formats and flows as possible. The interesting result was people were more easily confused, and looking for common elements that were common in different dating apps - i.e. a written Bio, age, height, and filters regarding racial preferences. By following existing apps as a base, I could have gotten additional insights out of the user testing vs users looking for features they were used to.

3. Hardest thing was not creating ideas, but prioritizing the right ones

In the beginning, one of the most challenging parts in the design was determining how to choose and select what were the most important features for the app. It was apparent the key was to refer back to the main user pain points and use that to generate the main user flow. What was difficult however, was determining how to show these features and ideas while remaining focused and on task. In the end, there was effort focused on creating certain features that weren’t productive to the main task flow, but can be used in the future for additional features.

Next Steps

1. Conduct additional user testing to ensure the revised flow is clear

In the second user test, many were confused about the flow being incomplete because the sign up flow was not the same typical dating apps. The process was revised to align with what's on the market in terms of online dating apps. Additional contextual testing will also help generate and prioritize future features for the app.

2. Implement additional (nice to have) features

Due to time constraints, only the primary and secondary user flow was completed. However, there were still many tasks and features that would greatly improve Chattr's experience by allowing participants to see each other in different settings

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