Have you ever been interested in joining a near by club or group but couldn’t always make the meetings? Sure there are groups you can join online but chances are they are filled with dozens or even hundreds of people. If you are looking to make a connection with someone who shares an interest with you you probably won’t get that experience there. By joining a small group you will be able to make the connections you are looking for. Smaller groups are more likely to engage users and promote active participation.
The Problem: Large platforms such as Reddit and Facebook house groups created for all sorts of interests and hobbies. However, these platforms are often filled with hundreds or thousands of members making it intimidating to post questions or share insight. Reddit and Facebook mainly prioritize bringing people together over a shared interest but do not go further than that.
Some users desire for a more personal experience where friendships can be made. This is where they may seek out local groups and organizations. Though in-person groups are more beneficial to those who want to make friendships, they are harder to find and many factors rely on meeting in person. Finding these groups in person and planning times to meet may be more work than it is worth.
The Solution: As more people transfer over to the digital world, there must be digital replications of real life experiences. I propose an application that allows for users to join small groups based on their indicated interests and hobbies.
Design Hypothesis: I believe that an application that searches and allows users to join small groups based on their interests and hobbies will decrease the difficulty and time spent on finding in-person groups.
In order to identify the features of the product, a process of need-finding was conducted. There are two types of personas the participants represented:
Persona #1: This user is a busy college student who doesn’t have time to make friends or keep up with them. In their personal time they enjoy many hobbies and want to share their insights with others but just don’t have the time. They are currently in many online groups but none of them have allowed him to make the connections he wants.
Persona #2: This user is an adult who works 40 hours a week and feels unfulfilled in life. They want to get into a hobby but don’t know where to start. They have been interested in trying some of the programs the community has to offer but they work late shifts and don’t have the time to make it nor the money.
Participants were asked questions about their online and in person experience with groups/clubs in interview style. Some examples of questions asked were:
- If you have joined an online group (Reddit, Facebook, etc), what do you use them for and what platform?
- What do you like/dislike about online groups?
- Have you interacted or posted content in these groups, why or why not?
- Have you made friends in these groups?
- Have you ever joined an in-person group (club/organization on campus or locally)?
- How often do you attend the meetings (what percentage of total meetings have you joined)?
- How long is the commute?
- How involved are you in the in-person groups?
The results of these questions were later finalized into a product backlog that documented the main features of the application.
The features of the backlog were divided into three sprints. These sprints were divided on highest to lowest priority:
- As a user I can search for a group
- As a user I can join groups
- As a user I can chat in groups
- As a user I can leave groups
- As a user I can create a group
- As a user I can manage a group
Sprint One focused on the searching and joining functionality. Pictured in the image above are a few shots of the first prototype. This included the home screen, group page, results page, and filters. The results from user testing indicated that this sprint was successful as the users were able to fulfill the tasks quickly. In this sprint the design hypothesis was also completed.
I believe that an application that searches and allows users to join small groups based on their interests and hobbies will decrease the difficulty and time spent on finding in-person groups.
User testing for all sprints was a moderated test of the prototype where tasks were given for the user to complete. Based on the results of sprint one, users were able to complete a search and join in under 15 seconds. With the suggested groups on the homepage they were able to join in less than 5 seconds. This is much quicker than the 15 minute walk or drive some of users had to take when joining in-person groups. Based on feedback, users said that the process was very efficient and frictionless. This overall accomplished the design hypothesis by proving that there was a decrease in difficulty and time.
Sprint Two focused on chat and leave functionality. Pictured in the image above are a few shots of the second prototype. This included the main chat, chat with text, chat with audio message, import from photos, camera, and leave group. The results from user testing indicated that this sprint was successful as the users were able to fulfill the tasks quickly. In this sprint more features of interaction were explored. The smaller tasks within such as sending a text, sending an image from the camera roll/camera, and sending an audio message were necessary in order to create a more interactive real experience for the users.
After user testing was conducted, users were able to accomplish both tasks given to them. Using the chat functionality for many of the users was efficient. They were able to go through each of the chat features and only ran into issues that were of prototyping concern. However, when users were asked to leave the group many hesitated and most clicked on the appropriate button “just because”. It seemed this way as many were conditioned to think that the button did something else. Based on their usage of other applications the button icon and location meant something else to them. Overall, this feature was put back into the “in progress” column in order to be improved for sprint three.
Sprint Three focused on the group creation and management functionality. Pictured in the image above are a few shots of the third prototype. This included the homepage with and without the new group added, the group page, the edit group page, the group page edited with system alert, and group creation forms. The user testing conducted during this sprint was proven successful as well.
Just like the two sprints before, users were given tasks to complete. The first being to create a new group. Users were able to identify this button almost immediately on the homepage. From there, users filled out the form and many did not have any issues throughout. The flow of the form was broken into three sections to ensure that there was not too much content for the user to consume. However, one user did note that there was a lot more questions on the last page of the form than others. This must have broken the consistent form layout from the first two questions. Overall, users were able to fill out the form without any hesitations.
The second task of editing/managing the group was almost a similar fashion. Users were able to navigate to the edit screen quickly. They were also given a form similar to the first task and were able to complete it without hesitation and quickly as well.
The conclusions of this sprint are that users were able to complete both tasks in a quick manner and without any missteps. Improvements can be made to the flow of the group creation form.
In conclusion, I have used the results from each sprint’s user testing to finalize my product. Throughout the sprint you may also have seen changes to the design which was inevitable in order to fit all the functionalities.
A link to the final prototype can be found here: https://www.figma.com/proto/XTo232qquopJ7UhYGSL6DG/Like-Minds-Prototype?page-id=263%3A12763&node-id=319%3A6845&viewport=241%2C48%2C0.16&scaling=min-zoom&starting-point-node-id=319%3A6845