Scope

5 Person Team
Launch in July

Role

UX Research
UX/UI Design

Skills

User scenarios
Experience maps
User Interview
Prototyping
Wireframe
UI Design

Tools

Sketch
Flinto
InVision
Illustrator
Photoshop

1.1 Context

As an international student in United States, I always look for interesting and fun social events that I can extend my network and make more new friends. However, I don’t use Facebook events very much since they always need you to join with company or most of them are formal public events rather than casual private events. So when my friend came to me and told me his team had an idea about creating a social events app that targets to international students like me, I say, let’s do it!

1.2 Background Research

My background research mainly focuses on secondary research, finding existing research paper or data about international students’ mindset in US and behavior patterns. Here are some research findings:

  1. There were nearly 1,078,822 international students studied at U.S.in 2016/17 and 33% of them came from China.
  2. 40% of International student reported loneliness at U.S. because of lack of friends. And they related with friends academically and professionally, but not personally.
  3. 50% of international students responded they relate to Americans worse than they relate to other international students, or not at all. Main reasons include following factors:
  1. We found this is especially true at the stage of Culture Shock.
Insights
Our product should help international students to get through culture shock stage and help them create more social networking opportunities.

1.3 User Research

Observation - Exploratory Research

Based on the preliminary insights we gained from the background research, I then started more detailed user research targeting our target user:

  • International (mainly Asian), 20-35 years old
  • Looking forward to making new friends and attend fun events.

And we observed Asians about why they don’t use existing event app and why do they still want new platform. Some of our findings included:

Asians reported a high cultural barrier to joining or attending events People often do not join stranger host’s event because the concern of safety Usually create events on messaging app, like WeChat, among friends
Interview & Survey - Exploratory Research

I conducted 6 short interview and 32 questionnaire surveys with CMU students and my friends, which allows me to go deeper to understand their personal thoughts. And before I went to the interview, I came up with a Hunt Statement to help me guide my semi-structured interview.

Hunt statement (Objective)

I aim to research international students’ habits of mobile communication to understand how they discover events and meet with new friends, and how their mental models vary through online social apps and on-site events, as well as through different social media (Messenger, Facebook, WeChat & Eventbrite).

Interview/Survey Findings & Insights

Below are some of the highlights from the questionnaire and in-person interviews I conducted.

  • Most international students found out about events through social media (WeChat) (85%) and word-of-mouth via friends (83%).  
  • An overwhelming amount of people said they don't use Facebook often because they don't have this habit to use that in China and they don't want to join an event without Chinese speakers.
  • The majority of our users surveyed said they concern about joining an event to meet new friends was safety issue (78%), and worrying about starting a conversation with strangers (53%). This meant the idea of meeting new friends should be based on common interest and guarantee of safety.
  • Some of the responses we received from our in-person interviews when asked what they wanted in a social event app: Convenient, Interesting people, Near me, Special Offering.
Insights
Our product should be complement to existing social app and helps students create easy and affordable events to meet new friends.

1.4 Market Research

Competitor Analysis
What are the existed solutions for international students to discover and connect?

There are mostly 3 ways international students can find an event and meet new friends

  • Word of mouth
  • Social media (Facebook, WeChat, etc.)
  • Posters & website

We began the research process with a heuristic evaluation to determine the primary social apps used by international student users. Since our app is complement to other social apps, we try to identify the features and areas for improvement and growth opportunities.

2.1 Design Framework

Problem Statement

After looking at our quantitative and qualitative data, we developed a problem statement that we would need to address when designing our app concepts.

International students need a way to create new social network, but have difficulty creating and joining events in a different culture background.
Disign Principle

The insights we gained from our research, user personas and competitive analysis helped us to define a list of principles our users could expect from our social app.They are listed below:

Be Informative:

The design should provide easy-built interaction fitting users' need and interest.

Be Safe

The design and function should give the users sense of safety.

Be Controlled

The design should maximize the users' control on their own event and participants.

2.2 User Journey Map

Using the insights gained in the interview and research, I laid out a journey map accounting for both host persona and participant persona using our product.

During this phase, we began prioritizing the features for the app as a team. We began by writing down all the features that could potentially be included for the app and the website and plotted them into a chart with the headings “Must Haves”, “Nice to Haves”, “Don’t Needs”. We referred back to our persona asking if this is something our host and participant would need, backing up our reasoning.

2.3 User Flow

3.1 Middle-Fidelity Prototypes

The team then came together to present our individual ideas and sketches and used stickers to vote on the ideas and functionality that we wanted to explore further. Based on the results of the vote we built out mid-fidelity wireframes and a prototype. In parallel, we did some visual exploration and got sign off from the client.

User Test - Round 1
  1. Users prefer to see more images about the events rather than texts.
  2. Those interviewed reported confusion between Events and Chats in Message Screen. Thus we iterated it to 2 parts: 1) system notification and reminder of new comments or requests; 2) personal chat between your friends.
  3. A large amount of users said they don't see the importance of profile and they want to maximize the control of events info.

3.2 Iteration

We went through second rounds of user testing. After the tests, we did the second iteration based on how long did each user finish certain task, their confusion and hesitation point and what was their behavior preference. Here are some of the examples of how we improved the functionality.

User Test - Round 2
  1. Users often mistakenly click the events they already registered, which means we need to help them identify the events when they browse.
  2. As a social event app, the priority of profile screen should be easy event management instead of personal profile like other social media.

3.3 A/B Testing

User Testing of "Going" Button

We originally started from setting button like other event apps used. However, after creating the idea of indirect filter to help users identify and skip the event they have registered before, we try to differentiate events.

Our first iteration of checkbox left some people confused as to what the intended action was–it can means like, follow or going, etc. So we worked on using the word “Going” written explicitly on a red button that actually looked more clear as a reminder and is also more tap-target friendly.

4.1 Logo

The WithMe logo was made with 2 main letters - "W" from With and "M" from Me.

4.2 UI Design

View the prototype on InVision:

https://invis.io/TMJ5TJIF76B

4.3 Features

Browse Screen - Event Detail Screen

1. Visual Attraction: People no longer read text fully; they rely on skimming images and slogans. Acknowledging your busy context, discovery page provides a quick way to get the gist of event information by showing images, slogans and participants.

2. Status Differentiation: To quick identify the event status (registered and not register) and avoid waste user's browsing time, there are two event status tabs: Going means you already registered, See more means you haven't registered.

3. Conversation First: Based on interview result, we found people usually concern about safety and common interest while joining an event. Comment area gives you a chance to join the conversation before meeting the strangers.

Chat Screen

1. System Notification & Inbox: After testing, we found that there are two main conversation users need: message from system and chats between users. And there is a user behavior habit to access them under one navigation with one click.

2. Notification: It includes system message, reminders of new comments and events you joined and created.

3. Inbox: It helps users access the conversation with their friends easily, including messages with friends and starting a new conversation.

Coupon Screen

1. Special Discount: In the user research we found that the motivation for a large amount users using social app to hang out with friends outside is special discount or offerings. So the Coupon was placed prominently in the navigation and connected to the event you create.

Create Screen

1. Simplify Category: Based on that research findings and data we collected The majority of our users have reported four top interested event categories: Dinner(92%), Party (87%), Video Game(56%) and Sports (52%). So we simplify the events categories based on that.

My Event Screen

1. Event Management: It displays three main kinds of event - Join, Create, Request - for users to track their event status.

2. Application Approval: One of the users' pain points is they can not manage the participants on Facebook Events. Thus in our app, we allow the users to decide who can join their events.