How Might We Improve Date Experiences?

Exploration Phase: Preliminary Research on Date Experiences

I conducted preliminary research on date experiences in order provide students in a UX class with research insights and a persona to use in an in-class design project. This research served its purpose in providing insights from real people to inform the students’ collective design process focused on improving date experiences.

This stage in the research is a starting off point focused on getting a sense of the emotional elements of date experiences as well as understand how individuals conceptualize “dates.” Here is a write up of my process and results.

Assumptions (Prior to Research)

  • A date is when you just spend time together and is not about logistics or the transactional parts of a relationship/
  • Dates are activity-based.
  • Date planning an dynamics are different for first dates and dates early in a relationship than they are for people in long term relationships.
  • Dates can be informal and spontaneous as well as formal and planned.

Questions to Explore

  • Does it make a difference if you see each other a lot (i.e. live together)?
  • Does a date need to be something out of the ordinary?
  • Does a date need to be dressy? Does it need to be activity-based? Can a date be during the day or night?

Interview Questions

Here are some of the questions I used to guide my interviews. I used these questions to keep me on track while letting the conversation take me in unexpected directions.

During the Interview

Ask more digging questions as you go i.e. specifics about the date/experience, what made it bad, what made it good?

A good way to check your understanding during an interview is using language such as:

“So what your saying is….”

“What I am hearing is….”

“Correct me if I am wrong…”

Interview Subjects

1 Individual in a same sex partnership

3 Individuals in opposite sex partnerships

1 Single individual

Key Research Insights

What Makes a “Date”?

“Dates end up being kind of sexy in the end. That lukewarm feeling, a good laugh, eye contact and a connection.”One can make a date out of anything as long both parties are feeling engaged, open and vulnerable.
  • People do not always call this type of interaction a “date.”
  • Dates do not have to be formal. They can be any interaction where two people are focused on each other and are forming an emotional connection (a hike, going to the farmer’s market, doing a project together…)
“A date is something intimate where you go above and beyond. It could just be something small that makes the other person feel special like their favorite flowers, wine, candy or something like that. You have to break down the walls that you keep up in your daily life and let go of all the B.S. in your life and relationship and just be with that person in the moment.”
  • People are more often to repeat a date activity if both parties enjoyed the activity/experience the first time.
  • A memorable date is one where you felt a connection with the other person in that moment. Maybe it was a long drive while listening to music that made a memory between two parties.
  • Normal interactions can turn into dates. Maybe two people are out grabbing dinner and it turns into an ‘evening’, with a walk, a movie and a special drink. It turns into something that you do not ordinarily do in your daily life/interactions.


  • People tend to plan dates based on their own preferences and what they think the other person would enjoy.
“Deciding what to do the date feels like an everyday question. ‘What do you want to do? What do you want to eat?’ ‘Well what do you want to do and eat?’ We stopped asking and just started writing DATE NIGHT. Then we decided it would be FUN whatever one of us decided to do. We switch off planning dates now.”

Positive Date Experiences

  • The person makes the date more than the activity itself.
  • When the person feels special and a priority.
  • “I like dates that play out kind of like a rom com where I laugh a lot of cry a little bit because we are interacting on an emotional and revealing level.”

Negative Date Experiences

  • When the person is not focusing on you and you are not feeling a connection or in the moment.
“My least favorite date was with a lawyer at one of my favorite vegan restaurants and he NON STOP talked about himself. After that, he would talk poorly of others and if I had my own car at the restaurant I would have walked out — regardless of how amazing the food was.”


Julie H. Is a composite of my research findings and interview subjects and represents a user that is in a relationship.

With further research, I will gather more specific insights about planning dates as well as interview individuals not currently in a relationship in order to develop a persona that represents the ‘single’ user looking to go on dates.