Digital Heart

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

The Brief

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

HingeAffinity.png

Affinity Mapping of themes from user interviews

CladiaPersona.png

Claudia persona created from survey and interview insight

My Process

Discover
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.

Challenge:

  • 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%).

Opportunities:

  • 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.

Define
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. ​

Pain-points:

  • 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. 

Develop

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.   

Deliver
The Prototype

After iterating the high-fidelity design, we created prototypes in response to the two user flows. 

Features delivered:

  • 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.

Screenshot 2020-12-01 at 08.07.37.png

User Flow 1: Claudia wants to play a game with Juan

User Flow 2: A 'nudge' for Claudia

Screenshot 2020-12-01 at 08.12.44.png

Empty State and Onboarding of new game feature

Accessibility Testing

Conclusion

To Improve
Next Steps

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. 

Feedback
My Experience

  • 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.

Flow 1: Claudia wants to play a game with Juan

Flow1: Inviting Juan to play a game

Flow 2: A nudge for Claudia

Flow2: Nudge for Claudia
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