UX Design for Dating Apps

Project Title: Seeking a Better Dating App

Program: General Assembly

Roles: UX Writer, Researcher and Designer

UX Focus: Online dating experiences

Objective:  Build dating app features that facilitat genuine communication using conscious and empathetic user-focused design.

Problems Being Solved

  1. A lack of authenticity
  2. Shallow profiles
  3. Communicative awkwardness
  4. The inability to form authentic connections

User Goals Being Made Possible

  1. Efficiently and meaningfully engaging with social connections
  2. Minimizing time spent adjusting to/interacting with apps arbitrarily
  3. Fostering compatibility in an intuitive, engaging way
  4. Fitting dating apps into established lifestyles and routines

Target Audience

My target audience resembles my primary user persona, Elizabeth. She is busy, professional, goal-oriented, and open-minded in her search for companionship. I want to target a “millennial,” educated minority woman since many dating apps seem to require the most buy-in from this kind of person.

MVP

A dating app with social links, a photo, substantial personality, and demographic info, and a highlight feature that both notifies matches and generates unique, editable messages on which senders have final edit privileges.

  1. Research
  • 3 User Interviews
  • 1 Competitor Analysis
  • 1 Affinity Map
  • 4 Trends
  • 1 Persona
  • 1 Highly Detailed Persona w/ Photo
  • 1 Problem Statement & Hypothesis
  • 3 HMW Questions
  • 1 Storyboard
  • 1 Feature Dream List
  • 1 2-by-2 Feature Prioritization Matrix (Highest Impact/Most Expected @ Top)
  • 1 Prioritized Features Reflection
  • 4 Prioritized Features & Research-Based Rationales
  • 1 Additional Feature Prioritized Post-Reflection
  • My work for this project was completed in the five phases summarized below. 

Phase 1

My first task was talking to dating app users, so I created this Discussion Guide.

Discussion Guide

I used my discussion guide to conduct three User Interviews. Think of each summary below as a response to these broader, user-focused questions:

  • What have other people experienced?
  • What is important to them?

Summary of User Interview 1

Summary of User Interview 2

Summary of User Interview 3

Based on the users’ responses, I documented their goals and motivations. I also arrived at a definition of the core problem I’d be trying to solve.

User Goals

User Motivations

Definition of Problem

To get a sense of the competitive landscape, I created a feature inventory and summarized my findings.

Feature Inventory

Here’s a link to that Onion piece mentioned on the first page of the summary.

Here is a breakdown of my research plan.

The most important features (highest impact and expected by potential users based on industry standards) identified in the research stage were:

  1. Images Linked to Social Media Profiles
  2. Job & School Information Included with Bio
  3. Built-In App Emojis
  4. Swiping Only within Curated Groups

My Phase 1 research revealed significant user fatigue and surface-level familiarity with the main competitors on the market. The nurturing of authentic interactions had been de-prioritized in favor of instant gratification, surface-level matchmaking, and “liking” in some way, shape, or form.

I saw a tremendous opportunity to introduce user-friendly, intuitive measures of authenticity that would enable communication and intentional planning while fostering substantial compatibility.

NOTE: Whether someone is looking for something casual, platonic or serious, the same interface can be leveraged if it prompts personalization and the meaningful disclosure of one’s preferences. In other words, Tinder and OKCupid could be much more than GPS locators with vague distinctions. Every dating app could be built for communication first. 

Phase 2

Using this Affinity Map, I sorted responses from my user interviews into trend categories. These trends served as the foundations of a Persona named “Elizabeth.” She is single, 23, and a full-time student.

Click here to download the complete “Elizabeth” persona

My next step was to organize Elizabeth’s ideal features into a prioritization matrix and “dream” list (both of which are included as snapshots below).

Feature Prioritization Matrix

Dream List of Features

I wrote a supplemental prioritization summary to document rationales for what appeared to be the most important features. The highlighted row at the bottom of the list includes a potential new feature.

Once the persona creation and feature prioritization were complete, I was able to arrive at some definitive problem statements and potential solutions. Those screenshots are included below.

This was my solution proposal.

Proposed MVP: A dating app with social links, a photo, substantial personality, and demographic info, and a highlight feature that both notifies matches and generates unique, editable messages on which senders have final edit privileges.

I created the storyboard and user flow you’ll see below to map out one of my proposed features and the “happy path” for any given user. These helped me look at improving dating apps at both holistic and granular levels. Having assessed users’ tensions and goals, I could hone in on a feature (highlighting content on someone’s profile that would auto-generate an introductory message) likely to improve the overall experience.

Storyboard

User Flow

Phase 3

This is the sitemap content for the app I designed.

Here is a visualization of the sitemap.

Sitemap Visualization

I used card sorting to mimic the sitemap and organize the key screens for a test of a paper prototype (a version of the user flow built using notecards). Here are screenshots showing those card sorting and key screen assembly processes.

Card Sorting

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Screen Flow

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Key Screens

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With the paper prototype in hand, I conducted a brief preliminary user test with someone and recorded it! Here is that audio if you’d like to take a listen:

In the following screenshot, you can see my documented my research highlights after that paper prototype test.

Research Highlights from Paper Prototype Test

To conclude this third phase, I documented my navigation reflections, which you can see below.

Phase 4

Here are the lo-fi wireframes I created for the app I designed.

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Here is a project evaluation I did to quickly assess the app’s viability.

Here are revised wireframes I built in Sketch using my lo-fi sketches.

To connect the designed app with known user goals, I wrote a few task scenarios.

I completed this wireframing self-assessment to practically assess how the elements inhabiting my wireframes either aid or hinder the overall user experience.

Additionally, I created a visual hierarchy to rank the significance of the elements present on the screen at any given time.

Phase 5

I did a plus/delta analysis of my updated app design.

Plus/Delta Analysis of Designed App

I also updated my revised wireframes in Sketch.

I updated my list of screener questions for potential users.

Updated Screener Questions

I refined my discussion guide for usability testing.

Finally, I documented my updated post-test reflections based on the latest prototype.

Updated Post-Test Reflections

Findings

*The additional feature prioritized is a ‘highlight & save’ feature for captivating information and content within user profiles. These highlights could also be used to generate substantial messages for matches. The user initiating contact will have final edit privileges.

Feature Rationales

  1. Social links will reassure users of authenticity and the promise of human contact
  2. Substantial personality and demographic info will only enhance authenticity in addition to photos that correlate with an intentional, invested user.
  3. Highlighting will prompt user engagement and reward a genuine evaluation of potential compatibility.
  4. An auto-generated message that originates based on highlights ensures an organic option to start an interaction if a user feels awkward or socially unconventional making the first move. Final edit privileges still make everything flexible up until hitting “Send.” Notifying the recipient of such a message will also be an option. There is no implied pressure or ‘type’ of interaction outside of what a user selects, and organic communication should correlate with mutually desired traits/goals.

Constraints: low attention spans, a general focus on images as opposed to profile content, interactive interface complications