Together: A mobile application case study

Together: A mobile application case study

Together allows users to discover events and activities curated by their network of friends. Together displays what the user's friends are sharing in a personalised newsfeed of events and activities. The user can share what they find in a Meetup, an open forum where they can discuss their next outing.

This is a user experience case study completed during my time at General Assembly. By understanding the user's pain points, Together was brought to life as an alternative to discovery applications such as Tripadvisor and Yelp. I've discovered through this project that event suggestions from strangers is not enough, but personalised content from the people uesrs trust is the key to discovering events.

My Role

Research

Findings, Surveys and User Interviews

Questions for surveys and interviews cover broad topics, which then narrow down to more specific questions to get a deeper understanding of the user. Users took part in a set of behavioural tasks, the results were insights into their methods of discovering and sharing.

Topics and tasks include:

Key take aways extracted from 8 surveys and 2 user interviews.

User Personas and Problem Statements

Three user personas were created from the results of the surveys and interviews. When formulating the personas, I focused on the user's behavioural traits and the pain points they've encountered when using existing applications.

The personas represented a core user base. It had an integral role in governing future design decisions such as features, content, user flows and workflows.

Theresa Smith

Theresa Smith
22, Female
Apprentice Chef
Western Sydney

Traits

Knowledgeable Decision Maker Meticulous Resourceful People Person Easy-Going Busy Organised

Pain points:

  • Believes easily obtainable information is untrustworthy
  • Suggestions from apps have been unsatisfactory in the past

Problem statement:

"I'm Theresa, a student and apprentice chef from Sydney. I spend most of my time at school, but I try to stay in touch with friends as much as possible. I'm seen as the decision maker in the group. I've used apps like Yelp and Tripadvisor before to plan catch-ups, but I find the suggestions doesn't suit my taste. I'm often disappointed when I use those services."

Jamie Robinson

Jamie Robinson
29, Male
Electrician
Southern Highlands

Traits

Outdoorsman Self Assured Adventurous Loves Challenges Hates Failure

Pain points:

  • Hates organising catch ups as friends can't agree on one thing
  • Only trusts a certain group of friends

Problem statement:

"I'm Jamie, an electrician from Southern Highlands. I'm an outdoorsman and love big adventures. I rarely use discovery apps because it's hard to find activities I like. I usually stick to websites like adventure.com or a simple google search because I have more control."

Nadia Ly

Nadia Ly
38, Female
Project Manager
Inner West

Traits

Independant Career orientated Loyal Takes Initiative Well Travelled

Pain points:

  • Time poor, unable to do research on things to do
  • Submits to activities done previously

Problem statement:

"I'm Nadia and I'm a Manager from Sydney. If I'm not spending time with my partner or out of town for work, I'm out with my friends. I find applications difficult to use, it's much simpler for me to ask for someone else's advice. I feel left out as I'm always doing the same things."

Information architecture for Together

Information architecture for Together

Information Architecture

The purpose of information architecture is to help users understand where they are, what they've found, what's around and what to expect.

Once features and content were determined they were categorised through a card sort. This was undertaken by 2 participants, who were given a brief explanation of what the mobile application was. The users were asked to group features and content that they would expect to be see in sections of an application.

Key takeaways from this task include:

User Goals and User Flow

The objective of this exercise was to take the user goals and visualise the process through a user flow. User tasks were broken down and illustrated using objects to indicate steps taken to complete process. The process was revised multiple times to account for edge cases and error handling. Tools used to develop the user flows include the humble pen and paper and Axure.

Meetup chat user flow

Meetup chat user flow

Create Meetup user flow

Create Meetup user flow

Onboarding user flow

Onboarding user flow

Sketches and Wireframes

The following diagrams illustrate the progress from initial ideas and sketches to the wireframes.

The process undertaken to produce Together was to start with smaller objects, and work from the ground up to build the environment. This ensured that each element was identifiable and consistent within it's context.

Content card sketch and final design

Content card sketch and final design. Purpose was to display as much relevant information without overcrowding the area

Navigation sketches

Navigation sketches, assessing the benefits of a menu bar vs burger menu pattern

Meetups and Chat sketches

Sketches for Meetup and Chat sections, bringing all the elements together

Event details

Event details mock up, accessible when an event is clicked for more information

Meetup in wireframe flow

High fidelity wireframe for creating Meetups

Meetup in wireframe flow

High fidelity wireframe Meetups and Chat, displaying user roles and different chat statuses

Meetup in wireframe flow

High fidelity wireframe for onboarding process

Protoype

Illustrating how the application would work in real life situations was a difficult challenge, in particular the Meetups feature. The design process was split into 2 tasks; devise scenarios where the user is and is not an administrator, and implementing a logical workflow for users to understand the context.

The solution was to develop a wireframe and workflow for the task, to illustrate how a user would see elements in the screen when their roles would vary. Using simple indicators such as profile image positioning would allow a user to recognise who was talking. Hiding and displaying elements such as an accept button would show who was sharing an event. Once these elements were established, adding the compositions to the prototypes was a simple process.

Two protoypes were produced, the first built with Axure was the result of a rapid prototyping session held in class. Prototype V1 mapped out the applications layout and workflow using findings from information architecture, user flows and wireframe exercises.

In my final prototype, I added visuals and design to illustrate a real life example of the application. The prototype was built with Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and InVision App, a free cloud based prototyping tool.

View Prototype V2

Results

The challenge I set for Together was to find an alternative solution to existing discovery applications. Through the friend activity, Together creates a personalised newsfeed of events. It is inconclusive as to whether it solves the issue of how people can search for activities they're interested in. Further usability testing and feature implementation would help this case.

Meetups was a feature implemented from a business perspective as a solution to provide users with content from friend's conversation. The event share design pattern received positive feedback from users. Comments include "a feature like this should be implemented in existing chat applications" and "I could see myself using this".