May Tong
Designer
0   /   100
Product Design

Beacon

Stay in touch with your friends with reminders, and arrange meetups around your busy schedule.

Project Type
Bootcamp Capstone
Role
Product Designer
Timeline
8 Weeks
Tools
Figma
Invision
01 DISCOVER

Project Overview

Goal
The goal of this project was to help young adults engage and maintain their existing friendships in order to reduce loneliness. The solution had to be a mobile app with a focus on one main task flow
Wave of loneliness reported in young adults “The loneliness epidemic”

A 2019 national survey found that 61% of Americans reported feeling lonely, with the highest percentage in older teens and young adults. Many report that it wasn’t the lack of people that made them feel lonely, but the struggle to keep in touch and form quality connections.

Based on my findings, I created an app that helped young adults reach out and plan impromptu meetups with nearby friends.

Problem Space

Loneliness in young adults.

Isolation and lack of connection is one of the main causes of loneliness. Young adults go through many transitions at that stage in their lives. Lack of meaningful human connections and transitioning from school age into being a young adult means in-person meetings become less frequent.

25
reported having no close friends
22
reported having no friends at all

Young adults age 18-27

Too shy & introverted to connect with others
53%
Their hobbies/interests don’t facilitate friendships
26%
Say that friendships are too much work
20%
Say they are too busy for friendships
14%

Process

Discover, Define, Develop, Deliver

I used the Double Diamond Method to navigate my design decisions on this project. Exploring an open problem space allowed me to focus on a research-driven solution.

Double Diamond Method
02 DEFINE

Old friends are better than new ones.

Many of these young adults preferred to spend time with their close friends rather than make new ones. By conducting a questionnaire and in-depth interviews I was able to gain both qualitative and quantitative data.

Based on these key insights I was able to determine the main features of this app and form a focused design question.

5 interviews conducted on zoom

Behaviours

  • Talk to friends and family to avoid loneliness
  • Goes to the gym or is active
  • Use social media to connect with friends
  • Used to meet friends once a week, now once a month
  • Plays & listens to music
  • Takes time to relax – watching tv

Motivations

  • Reaches out to people when lonely
  • Meet new people at work
  • To go on more walks
  • Try to hang with friends more
  • Wants to be more social
  • Seek out new experiences
  • Walks around the mall to be with people

Pain Points

  • Lacks social interactions
  • Waits for others to make first move
  • Difficult to make time and spend time with friends
  • Feels left out of friend group
  • Can’t tell if new connections will click
  • Don’t know what to say or do to make friends
  • Feels tired and unhappy from loneliness

How might we maintain the existing friendships of young adults so that they experience fewer moments of loneliness?

Persona & Experience Mapping

Improving current experiences.

A persona was created to synthesize the most common behaviours, motivations, and pain points from my research and interviews. Millennials' busy lives made it difficult to coordinate and reach out to their friends.

The current experience of coordinating hangouts can be a time-consuming and difficult task; especially in larger groups. Deciding the details of a meetup (time, location, activity) were the main areas where experience can be improved.

Persona
Experience Mapping
User Stories & Epics

Selecting the main task flow.

A list of user stories was constructed based on my users' motivations, behaviours, and paint points.

Which were grouped into the 5 epics below.

24 user stories -> 5 Epics -> Chosen Core epic -> 10 user stories

Plans change; this feature allows busy individuals the flexibility to reach out to their friends when their paths cross. They may have time to meet for a coffee or grab lunch between running errands. This was a feature that I haven’t seen explored in other similar friendship maintaining apps.

Chosen Epic
Proximity & Location
As a user I want to...

Task Flow

As a busy adult, I want to see if there are nearby friends for spontaneous meet-ups
03 Develop

From sketches to wireframing.

I created a series of sketches taking inspiration from similar patterns before deciding on the final sketch below and creating a mid-fi prototype. 

User Testing

Improving experience through real user feedback.

I went through 2 rounds of user testing with 5 participants each. Each tester provided me with feedback on the existing functions, overall design, experience and ability to accomplish each task.

Key changes

Button function clarity

V1-V2: Fab button hides ‘nearby friends’ button - it’s hard for users to navigate based just on the icon.

V2-V3: Changed the wording to better describe a notification system to remind users to contact friends.

Didn't know there are more buttons in the floating action button.
Tester 3
I can't tell what the icons mean.
Tester 5
Key changes

Understanding user's needs

The invitation process was too complicated and took too long for the user. I simplified the process by designing quick prompts and taking the thinking out.

If I plan a meet up in more than 2 hours, it's a planned hangout.
Tester 1
04 Deliver

Creating the mood with a brand identity.

I wanted to create a brand that exuded a bright, happy, and open feel. Yellow is the colour of many friendship symbols such as the rose, topaz stone, and Claddagh ring. In keeping with the friendly theme, the rounded San Serif font echoed the approachable feel of the app.

Beacon in the market.

The primary colour worked well not to overlap with other existing apps in the market. 

App Solution

Beacon

Incorporating all the design elements, I created a final prototype using my completed UI library. I ensured the app followed WCAG AAA compliance for contrast and legibility.

Smart watch

Expanding to other platforms

Explored additional platforms that can aid in the app's feature. Integration with smart watch to create an easier way to notify users of nearby friends and meetups.

The smart watch would vibrate when friends in the set radius are nearby allowing for quick contact.

Marketing Web Design

Promoting the app.

Treating this app as a real product, a responsive marketing page was created. Highlighting features of the app helped users get a better picture of how it worked and its purpose.

Design Impact

Project reflection and future improvements.

Once the product has launched it will be up to the users to determine how your product is used. The greatest weakness if a malicious user were to use my app would be to track my users through the nearby friends feature. There is a layer of protection provided when I designed the map to only show an approximate location.

Key Learnings

A research driven solution.

Through this project, I learned there were constantly new insights that I discovered throughout each step of the process. It's important to iterate while taking in new information without fearing even some big pivots.

I started with an open and broad topic and let my research drive design decisions. My end solution of a friendship maintaining app would not be my first thought as a deterrent to loneliness. The research process can lead to new found solutions.