Feature Addition Sprint

For this project sprint I had to implement a new feature to an already established, widely used app based on the data collected from its various users. This 4 day sprint required me to run through the entire process from research to a Hi Fi prototype, and allowed me to really see the empathy phase come full circle into functioning feature.

Choosing an App

There were many apps to choose from when I was reading through the project brief. We could pick anything from Instagram and Spotify to lesser-known niche apps like Treatwell and Evernote. Even though i was initially intimidated by the project, I wanted to push myself, so I decided to challenge myself and pick a smaller app. This way I would really have to utilize my research analysis skills in order to develop and deliver a feature that has value to its users.

So, I ended up choosing Telegram.

Telegram is a messaging app that’s well known for its data security and end-to-end (E2E) encryption. Founded in 2013 in Germany, Telegram competes with Whatsapp, Signal, and Viber in the messaging app market.

One of its founders, Pavel Durov, is well-known for the hard stance he takes on data security. Often times clashing with international governments and global leaders, Telegram has held its own when defending its users’ security.

Research

Initially I set out to the ol’ google machine to collect any information I could about the app. I looked up various UIs the app has had, changes it has made in the recent years, as well as reviews. When conducting secondary research, looking at reviews of the app (as well as reviews of their competitors) are incredibly useful. It’s essentially juicy, relevant qualitative data ready to be captured and thrown into a Miro board.

I found people really enjoyed the group chats in the app, as well as the security features and options. Most of the complaints I found were users who wanted a Video Chat feature (something that has since been added). Other pain points had to do with concerns over the app sending alerts to everybody in your Telegram contact list after signing up, as well as a lack of information regarding time zones when contacting people abroad.

Video chat has been added since this review was written, but perhaps there’s some more information to be utilized here… 🤔

As I made my way through the Discovery phase, it was time to utilize the Lean UX canvas. This is an incredibly useful technique that efficiently defines the desired business outcomes alongside the proposed user benefits in order to initiate a thoughtful, value-based direction for the entire team. This is also useful for the Agile Development method, which prioritizes rapid iterations involving the entire team, encouraging short-term deliverables.

Next, I needed to conduct a market analysis and identify the competitor landscape I was dealing with when it came to messaging apps. I conducted a feature comparison map, as well as a market positioning chart to try and identify my Blue Ocean.

More location info AND more security? How can I make that work?

Now that I collected all of the relevant feedback I could find on the web and conducted my market analysis, it was time to actually speak with users to find out what they do and don’t like about the app. I conducted 5 interviews with people who use Telegram, as well as those who use their competitors, such as WhatApp and Viber.

Define

I then took the information I collected from the interviews (the the help of Otter, an essential tool for any UX designer) and proceeded to further analyze/organize it.

Affinity mapping to organize and analyze the data 🧐

There were several trends that I found within the qualitative data: people really enjoyed the group chatting function, which allowed them to easily stay in touch with several friends (in several locations) quite easily, users loved the security of the app and felt much more comfortable using this instead of WhatsApp (which is owned by Facebook), and lastly, a few users primarily used Telegram to communicate with family and friends in other countries.

Now I decided to utilize the Value Proposition Canvas. When going through the Define stage, it is so easy to let your personal suggestions and ideas take the place of the users’ (the people we need to design for). This canvas helps the designer to keep the focus of the product on the customer values and needs. This also identifies which jobs are needed to be done by both the user and the product. However for this stage, I only focused on the Customer Segment.

Jobs to be done by the customer, AND the product

Alright, so I got all of the data I could get (remember, this was a 4 day sprint, and I still needed to have a functioning Hi-Fi in just a few days) and now I needed to define and empathize with the users needs and pain points.

In order to humanize the information I found, I created a User Persona, In-Touch Ian.

If all my data were to be summarized in human form, it would be our friend Ian over here 🤗

In-Touch Ian uses Telegram to stay in touch with family and friends overseas, he also loves being in silly group chats with his closest friends, and is very aware of tech companies selling his data.

Now it was time to walk through the process of using Telegram in the shoes of Ian here.

For this, I used the As-Is scenario technique, so I could really dive into what he would be doing, thinking, and feeling as he went through the process of sending and receiving a message on Telegram.

I then took this information and created a User Journey Map

Ian’s journey when messaging on Telegram

This map helps to identify pain points within the experience, and offer possible solutions as they pop up.

Now that I have defined the users’ pain points based off of the research and qualitative data I collected, it was time to complete the Define stage with proposed Problem Statements:

Our messengers do not always know about the local time of their friends and family, because they live in a different time zone.

Our users are uneasy about Telegram sending notifications to every person in their contacts, letting them know they signed up, because they only want to talk with their friends and family

Our users are wanting their data to be secure, because they prioritize security when it comes to messaging apps.

Now to the fun part: BRAINSTORMING!

To be honest, I usually love this stage, but by the time I made it here on my sprint, I felt really brain drained. Fortunately, I was able to call upon some colleagues for some help (always a good idea to bring in different perspectives when brainstorming) and we were able to kick off the ideation with some creative solution possibilities.

Develop

Now that I had all of the ideas on the board, it was time to decide which ones were more feasible than others. Since the goal here was to provide a Minimum Viable Product, I decided to prioritize only the ideas that we could develop the quickest.

Some great tools for this stage are the MoSCoW Method, as well as the Impact vs. Effort chart. These are both methods used to determine which proposed solutions would be the most impactful, and which should be required when developing a solution. The Impact vs. Effort also takes into account how much value is being provided to the customer, along side how much work would be needed by the rest of the team to make it happen.

Remember the Value Proposition Canvas?

Well now was the time to go back and figure out which jobs our product needs to accomplish based on the values and needs of the user.

I spelled this out using a “Jobs-to-be-done” framework. This is a (often run-on) sentence that explicitly defines which job is being accomplished by the product, and exactly how it is brining value to them.

Something a design mentor of mine frequently preaches is:

Rather than focusing on developing the most beautiful and creative product, focus on how you can bring value to the lives of users.

So from this, my Jobs to be done statement:

When sending a message to a user abroad, the user wants to know the local time zone of the person they are contacting while maintaining data security, so that they can have more information regarding the timing of their message, which makes them feel more informed, safe, and less anxiety when writing or sending a message.

Now, a recap on my research:

Many users often use the app to contact people in other countries. One user I interviewed felt unseen, as he lives in Austria, but many of his friends live in the US. He felt guilty that his friends (who he contacted via Telegram) would always have to calculate the time in Austria when determining whether or not to send him a message.

Another user ONLY uses the app to stay in touch with his friends he met while studying abroad in Germany.

And being that every user was a fan of the group chats, my research indicated that it would bring value to the user to include a feature that informs them of each others local time zones.

So my Minimum Viable Product was:

When sending a message to a user abroad, the user wants to know the local time zone of the person they are contacting while maintaining data security, so that they can have more information regarding the timing of their message, which makes them feel more informed, safe, and less anxiety when writing or sending a message.

Deliver

Now it was time for me to start creating and testing ways I could seamlessly add this feature into Telegram.

I started out with a User Flow chart, outlining how somebody would change their time zone by editing their profile.

Remember: users were concerned about their data, so rather than having a geo-location function, users would need to enter their location and time zone manually.

The happy path 😃

On to the prototyping !!

Using InVision, I sketched out a quick Lo-Fi prototype to quickly test and get feedback on.

a quick lo-fi, ready for testing and iterations!

I quickly plugged my lo fi screens into Maze so I could easily send it out for testing.

The initial testing phase went well with a %100 success rate, however with a %16 misclick rate, and an average time of 48 seconds, I knew there was room for improvement.

by making the “Edit” button more clear, which was the main pain point from the lo-fi, I immediately saw better results, cutting the misclick percentage in half, and reducing the average time by over 10 seconds.

a (more) successful mid-fi

Now it was time to make the new Time Zone feature look and feel like a natural part of Telegram.

Working in XD, I essentially copied the existing interface of Telegram, making the necessary additions of my feature.

A peak into Super Marios Telegram user flow 🍄

Here, the user can edit their profile to manually set their local time zone while not relying on the app to geo-locate them. The time zone is then displayed under their name when someone is chatting with them.

Please feel free to click around and check out the Hi Fi prototype here!

Every design is subject to improvement and changes as users needs and demand change. As Don Norman preaches in The Design of Everyday Things,

Technology changes rapidly; people change slowly

But people DO change

Therefore, products should always be subject to feedback and iterations.

I know my feature will be successful if there are:

  • High adoption rates
  • Low Bounce rates
  • Low task time

More importantly, I know my feature will need further improvement if there are:

  • Low adoption rates
  • High bounce rates
  • High task time
  • Low completion rates
  • Low task level satisfaction

Takeaways

This project was a huge learning step for me. This was the first time I completed the entire process from research to Hi-Fi.

When first taking this on, I was extremely intimidated. I initially thought

“All of these apps have, and are being perfected by designers and devs WAY more talented and experienced than me, how can I possibly find a valuable feature to implement?”

But I learned to trust the process

I’m proud of myself for collecting the data necessary and using it to propose a feature that addressed the users’ needs and pain points.

Every time I take on a new project, I become more interested in product design and all of the processes and methodologies that utilized. Even though this 4-day spring required me to “move fast and break things”, I feel that by running through the design process once again I am solidifying my understanding of the concepts and importance of each step.

Next Steps

After sending the design work off to the devs for its implementation, the next steps would include analyzing the data and feedback from the users. Then I would take this data and go back to the drawing board in defining, developing, and delivering ways I could make this feature work better for the users.

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