It’s easy to get overwhelmed with life and to feel alone in a giant city. How do we facilitate and encourage regular and authentic communication and support? The proposed app, Human Connection, is designed to prompt users to share personal and important information with their friends and family on a regular basis to feel more connected.
Researcher, Designer, Tester, Project Manager
Limitations, Parameters, Resources, and Materials
There were potential limitations on getting people to open up about their personal lives and how they share with close family and friends. That did not seem to be an issue, as participants appeared fine sharing with me.
All designs were created with pen and paper, with prototypes created in Marvel.
Initial Problem Statement
People don’t share personal issues very often, as they’re afraid of being vulnerable. Keeping things bottled up leads to stress on the body, isolation, and poor physical health. How do we help users connect with others to make it easy to share their personal issues?
How did you confirm or refine your initial assumptions?
The assumptions were mostly correct. Participants all had a few people that they shared personal issues with, yet still felt isolated in this giant city on a regular basis. People often let their fear of vulnerability prevent them from reaching out to loved ones, despite everyone loving being on the giving end when their friends and family needed support.
Seven interviews were conducted to gather information for the app. The initial questions:
- How many people do you talk to about emotional issues in your life?
- How often do you talk with these people?
- Is the relationship two-way?
- Do you have others that come to you with issues?
- How else do you deal with emotional issues?
- Do your close friends and family generally know what’s going on in your life?
- Do you enjoy listening to others’ issues?
- How do you communicate with friends/family when you want to talk about issues?
The only change was removing “how else do you deal with emotional issues,” as that turned out to be not relevant. The app was to connect friends and family to facilitate meaningful conversation, and learning other activities that people use to deal with stress wasn’t adding anything.
A few key quotes:
“Humans are social creatures”
“I feel affirmed when others choose to share with me”
“I hope that friends and family remember to check in with me regularly”
Synthesizing Interview Data: Affinity Map
- People often feel alone and stressed in NYC
- They have a small group of friends that they confide in for emotional issues
- They are often happy with how frequently they converse with this group
- They prefer meeting in person, but will use many other methods of communication if in-person is not possible
- They want to help people through emotional issues
- They want human connection
- It can be difficult to be vulnerable and share personal issues
- They want to be considered when friends are sharing with them, instead of monopolizing their time when sharing issues
Usability Tests and Resulting Iterations
The goal of the tests was to see how intuitive the navigation would be for users to connect with their friends and family.
- Scenario 1: You’re having troubles in your romantic relationship and need to talk to someone.
- Task 1: Send a message to your friend David about your troubles, letting him know that you want to talk this through.
- Scenario 2: Your friend Anne has sent you a message about something in her life.
- Task 2: Read Anne’s message and let her know you read it.
- Scenario 3: You haven’t heard from your friend Kiki in a while and want her to know that you’re thinking of her.
- Task 3: Let Kiki know that you’re thinking of her.
- Scenario 4: You have a group of friends that you go to brunch with every week. Cathy stopped joining your group and has drifted away from everyone.
- Task 4: Remove Cathy from your group of brunch friends.
Results of round one of user testing:
- Quick Check-Ups was not clear to anyone (3 out of 3 were confused)
- Groups were confusing (2 out of 3 were confused)
- How are groups related to the contacts? (2 out of 3 had this question)
- If a group was removed, does that also remove the contacts? (1 out of 3 had this concern)
- Add/Remove feature next to contacts was confusing (2 out of 3 were confused)
Iterations after round 1 of testing
- Springboard screen added to beginning of prototype
- Changed home screen to show “Quick Check-ins” instead of “Quick Check-ups”
- Added info screen for “Quick Check-ins”
- Added info to show that deleting groups does not delete the contacts
- Changed the screens for editing group members to more clearly show who was in a group
- Added confirmation slides that groups were changed
Results of round two of user testing:
- Doesn’t like that a new contact has to be added to a group
- Not clear when sending a message to group — how does a return dialog happen?
- Add/Edit Friends title is unclear: Manage Friends would make more sense
Next Phase of Iteration
- Notifications on home screen
- Make home screen more interesting
- Set prompts for updating someone every day
- Customize topic suggestions
- Remove group requirements for contacts
- Set up how often to talk to each person
- Set up groups — talk with whole group? Or individual conversations only?
I had another reminder that I am not my user, and how important user testing is. Things that I thought would be completely obvious in my navigation were very confusing to people across the board. It was also another lesson of divorcing myself from my design, and not taking any criticisms personally.
I believe I conducted the interviews well, as I had a few people comment that I had great questions after I finished. I can still work on making people comfortable sooner in the process.
The amount of time I spent on many of the areas was far too much, and I know I could have drastically reduced that with timeboxing. I was flushing out too many features instead of keeping it simple.