Love in the time of Covid-19
Enhancing the Hinge online dating app experience
Project Type: Concept | Team: Group of 5 | Duration: 2 Weeks | Role: UX Researcher & UX Designer
Hinge is a popular dating app with a difference; once successful in its mission in helping users to build a ‘meaningful relationship’ to find ‘the one’, it’s designed to be deleted!
In these times of lockdown, in-person dating opportunities have become more difficult. So Hinge has had a major opportunity to extend its service and support other ways to get to know each other, online.
To identify opportunities for more virtual online experiences.
Develop and create a high-fidelity prototype to meet those needs.
My Role: UX research, competitive analysis, screener survey, user interviews, insights, persona creation, empathy mapping, problem statement, design studio, feature prioritisation, sketching, low-fidelity and mid-fidelity wireframing, high-fidelity prototyping, usability testing, onboarding and empty state, accessibility testing
Tools Used: Pen, Paper, Figma, Trello, Miro, Google G-Suite, Keynote, Zoom & Slack
Affinity Mapping of themes from user interviews
Claudia persona created from survey and interview insight
Challenges & Opportunities
To kick off the process, we conducted research on the existing dating app market and carried out a competitor analysis to understand what online dating features they offered.
To understand the market, we conducted a screener survey with 61 respondents and then carried out user interviews with 19 of them. Using affinity mapping we grouped responses and identified themes on Miro.
Competitors were trialling online features to support dating.
A misbalance of app users (male 85% and female 15%).
The majority of female users fear online abuse (88%).
Users of online dating apps would welcome ways of playing online games with potential matches.
They would like to start a new conversation by offering to play a game.
Nudges to restart existing conversations would be welcomed.
Typically users spent 30 minutes a day on the apps.
The User Experience
To distil our findings we created a persona, Claudia, who uses Hinge.
After her Friday night date cancelled on her, we created an experience map that identified her pain-point and an empathy map to capture how she felt.
Wanting a better way of kicking off conversations.
Support in keeping the conversations going.
We captured this in a problem statement and started to consider solutions.
Ideate & Iterate
Using the 'How Might We?' question, we conducted a design studio, capturing the creative ideas from within the group to solve Claudia's problem
Solutions we agreed to develop:
On a Hinge profile, allow users to add games they enjoy, so matches can 'like' the game to start a conversation.
For existing matches, prompt if it's been a while since there was any conversation. In the prompt, suggest playing a game.
For both solutions, we created two user flows and identified how they could be integrated into the existing Hinge application map.
Starting with hand-sketched wireframes for both user flows, we conducted our first user tests incorporating the feedback into the low-fidelity digital wireframes created in Figma Multiple usability tests and idea iterations carried on through to mid-fidelity.
I successfully carried out basic accessibility testing to ensure the colours and text were legible for people with visual impairments.
I also created onboarding and empty-state screens to help introduce new features.
After iterating the high-fidelity design, we created prototypes in response to the two user flows.
game options integrated into the existing Hinge user flow, enabling users to see the games someone enjoys and 'like' them in the same way a user would 'like' one of their photos or quotes.
Nudges implemented as a prompt on the user's match list after inactivity for a couple of days.
Game options allow users to start a game from within Hinge's chat flow.
In-game video calling enabled if both parties agree.
Online Indicator introduced to show when live games, like charades, would be playable.
The final prototype testing demonstrated that users were able to successfully use the new features.
User Flow 1: Claudia wants to play a game with Juan
User Flow 2: A 'nudge' for Claudia
Empty State and Onboarding of new game feature
There are some steps I would love to consider further:
Enhance new features: Run further usability testing and iterations
Add additional options for the initial ‘like’: Building upon the online features to know each other, I’d like to test the concept of an ‘I like music’ feature to provide further insights to shared interests.
‘What we have in common’ feature: Create and test this concept to see if it helped increase successful matches.
User test the ‘I’m online’ indicator concept: Is the ‘I’m online’ feature actually counterproductive to encouraging meaningful connections?
With these new forms of online engagement within Hinge, I would want to test if these would help reduce the fear of abuse that affects so many female dating app users.
What I Learnt
Evolving & Refining
Our team functioned really well, with each person playing to their strengths. I discovered that I really enjoy research and interviewing, as well as working behind the scenes to ensure the project was progressing at the right speed to meet the project deadline.
It's very easy to want to continuously evolve your own idea, but I now realise that sometimes, you have to let go of your own design when you appreciate that another member of the group may have a better one. Design Studios, using democratic dot-voting, are very good at refocusing on one collectively agreed approach.
I really got to grips and developed my skills in using Figma and loved its collaborative and prototyping features.
I initially felt outside my comfort zone with this project as it’s been a long time since I needed to date! But I quickly realised how I felt enthused and energised by researching something I wasn’t familiar with; it allowed me to research and design with genuine interest without being disrupted by my personal expectations and potential biases.