TU Go, your calls, texts and voicemails over wifi.

Improving a communication product experience across several platforms.

Challenge

Customer feedback in the UK and Latin America highlighted the fact that the GSM network wasn’t reliable enough. Improving the customer experience for calling and texting was key to expand Telefonica’s business.

The first version of the “TU Go” app was released in 2012 to allow Telefonica’s customers to use wifi to call, text and check voicemail when they don’t have a signal.

TU Go 1.0 was initially released in the UK (for O2 customers) for iOS, Android and Windows PC.

An advert for the first release of TU Go in 2012
“This app has made a big difference to me. I live in a rural area and my signal is very poor, particularly in the house. I can now phone friends mobile to mobile and send texts to my friends who don’t have iPhones when connected to my wifi. Brilliant.” / App store user feedback

The brief

Although the product proved to provide a good answer to network connectivity issues amongst our customers, the first release needed fine tuning, both technically and visually. Customers who loved the concept felt frustrated about receiving delayed calls notifications, or sometimes receiving the same texts twice.

“Agree with previous comments that answering calls is too hard. Doubling up on texts and voicemails is infuriating (I like to keep those red blobs off my home screen!!)” / App store user feedback

Telefonica’s London design team was charged to improve the product experience across iOS (mobile and tablet), Android (mobile and tablet) and PC. A Windows Phone app and a Web app were also added to the list of platforms to support.

My role

Reporting into the team design lead, I was responsible for the interaction design on the Android tablet, the Windows Phone app, and Windows PC. I oversaw the visual design work, and followed-up on development and design QA for these products up to the release date.

The approach

  • Simplifying the interface and adjusting the feature set
  • Testing the new design principles with existing users
  • Analysis of other native communication apps per platform
  • Delivering specifications to inform remote development and testing
  • Cross platform consistent design pattern and brand identity

Simplifying the app navigation

The original navigation of TU Go had been designed to view communication by types: view all my calls together, then all my messages together etc.. This meant adding a lot of filters on the app main pages, which didn’t match how the majority of users were eventually using the product.

Filtering options on TU Go 1.0

We de-cluttered the navigation and filtering options to offer an experience as simple as possible; we replaced it with a timeline-based navigation, were all communication get organised by time, instead of communication type.

TU Go 2.0 main navigation

I co-facilitated user-testing session in order to verify the new navigation design hypothesis. User valued the new way of grouping communication in a timeline, although this was a surprise to them, with initial resistance to the change.

Testing new design hypothesis with TU Go users
“I think it looks much neater than it used to..used to find it’s just everywhere on the iPad..looks much easier to use.”
“I wasn’t expecting comms to be clustered but I like the fact it is — it’s a nice feature”

The new navigation principles became a key design pattern for all the platforms we re-designed for. I did follow similar patterns when designing for Windows Phone and Windows PC.

Navigation on Windows Phone 8

Native communication app experience

Our vision was to make customer feel comfortable when using this app, by being as close as possible to their own device’s native call and text app; TU Go users shouldn’t have to relearn new UI patterns for calling or texting their contacts.

All the designers in the team spent time investigating native communication apps to see what patterns could be replicated and what had to be adjusted to our product’s constraints.

TU Go 2.0 for Windows Phone 8

Put the user in control

In order to respond to customer’s feedback from the first release, we needed to include a feature to essentially turn the app on/off when the user didn’t need to receive communication through TU Go (i.e when user had a good signal).

The design team and product owner got together to sketch some ideas about how to design this feature. We all submitted ideas that were discussed. We agreed on a principle, that was built into a prototype and submitted to user testing.

Sketches for a button to turn the app communications ON/OFF

We also explored how to integrate this function across various platform to ensure we’d find a consistent solution in line with the brand and native platform’s patterns.

Windows PC ‘ON/OFF’ button

Delivering specifications to inform remote development teams

We had the challenge of ’scrum teams over Skype’, where the development teams were located in Spain, the Product owner in Israel, which made the collaboration trickier.

The UX designers and visual designers would work ahead of each sprint to have time to explore various options and provide the specifications. The wireframes details would be introduced to the development team before the beginning of each sprint to answer any questions.

Cross platform consistent visual identity

Our small design team in London had the challenge to deliver TU Go across a large number of platform in a few months. We needed to make sure that design pattern would stay consistent across all products when possible. For example, how to show a notification badge when a new message is received ; or how to display various communication type (call, message, voicemail) in a timeline? UX designers and visual designers worked side by side to make sure their design decisions remained consistent. The key screens of the app were printed and displayed on the wall where the team was seating; to help designers be aware of key design patterns, design language, and platform differences.

TU Go for Windows Phone
TU Go for Windows PC
TU Go for Android Tablet

Results

Redesigning the interface and fixing some technical issues helped the app store rating increase from 2 stars to almost 4 stars ratings after TU Go 2.0 was released.

The app has now reached its original target of 500k registered users on iOS, Android, Windows PC and Windows Phone.

After 1 year of trialling in the UK with 1.0, Telefonica was able to expand the reach of TU Go to Latin America countries (Colombia, Peru, Argentina, Brazil) using the newly released TU Go 2.0.