Over the past decade online dating has lost much of it's stigma in the United States. Match.com became the first online dating service in April 1995. Then, only 14% of Americans had access to the internet. Today, nearly nine-in-ten Americans are online, and online dating has grown in both popularity and acceptance.
According to Pew Research, majority of Americans now say online dating is a good way to meet new people. In fact, almost half of the public knows someone who uses online dating or has met their spouse, or partner, through online dating. Two-thirds of all online daters - 66% - have gone on a date with someone they've met through a dating site or app. In terms of demographics, online dating is most common amoung Americans in their mid-20s through mid-40s. The 25-34 year olds age group represents the most popular age group that utilizes a online dating service. With a recent introduction of the popular dating app Tinder, these numbers have spiked in growth even more.
FRNDZY is a mobile app concept that I designed as a side project to improve the overall communication experience in online dating. The app introduces a series of "ice-breaker" games to provide users with context before initiating their conversations. The idea was to help eliminate cold messaging and drive matchmaking through social conversations to form more meaningful impressions.
Negative experiences in online dating are quite common. Primary frustrations in online dating stem from perceived limitations in existing online dating communication methods to form meaningful impressions. Currently, these existing methods don't allow for how fast and how much information users can convey about themselves as well as gather from others with the space that is provided to them. As a result, primary impressions are often dependent upon characteristics such as physical attractiveness from profile pictures or self-written subjective summaries, allowing for vulnerability in falsified or falsely-assumed impressions.
Women are much more likely than men to have experienced uncomfortable contact via online dating sites or apps: some 42% of female online daters have experienced this type of contact at one point or another, compared with 17% of men. Most of these frustations may occur because users are unsure of how to lead their conversations due to a lack of shared context about themselves.
I initiated the design process by creating 8 different user personas to help me focus on user goals, current behavior, and pain points. I used these personas to tell a story and describe what users need, how they think, and why they behave the way they do. This deep understanding of users helps effectively deliver a great tailored experience by making them the central focus during every step of the design process.
Example of User Persona: Genna
Example of User Persona: Jordan
Using these user personas, I continued the design process by writing pre-intervention scenerios for each persona. These scenerios tell a story about how life is like for users before the introduction of FRENDZY to understand the conflicts they face with online dating, or dating in general, in their everyday lives.
After considering users' needs, I started card sorting to organize the information in the app. I wrote down all the discrete elements that would make up the FRENDZY app and classified them into groups.
To illustrate the different elements and components, I started roughly sketching wireframes. Next, I took the rough sketches and modified the necessary changes into digital wireframes to create user flow diagrams.
Using the wireframes and userflows as a blueprint, I designed high fidelity mockups of the application to represent the app's visual appearance and hint at the basics of the functionality and interactions.
High Fidelity Mockups
The next step was to stimulate the desired interaction flow and feel of the product by making the mockups interactive. So, I used InVision's live prototyping tools to rapidly build a prototype from the mockups.