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Ember is a dating app meant to reduce the instant gratification of “speed matching” by slowing down the process with more thoughtful action.

Team

Christine Koh

Isabelle Kim

My Role

User Interview

Persona/Journey Mapping

Wireframing/Prototyping

Duration

JAN 2021–FEB 2021 

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How might we combine the convenience of dating applications with a more thoughtful approach?

CONTEXT

"Internet dating is symptomatic of social and technological change that transforms modern courtship into a type of commodified game"*

With the overwhelming amount of people using dating apps, the access to finding a match increased as people can find multiple potential partners easily just at the tip of their fingertips.
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But along with the ease of access, it has become more difficult to take these applications seriously as all they call for is a swipe or tap of the finger.
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*Hobbs, Mitchell, et al. “Liquid Love? Dating Apps, Sex, Relationships and the Digital Transformation of Intimacy.” Journal of Sociology, vol. 53, no. 2, June 2017, pp. 271–284
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Thank you!

SOLUTION

To create a better online dating experience, we realized the importance of slowing down and limiting the process of matching to encourage thoughtful liking and meaningful interactions. 

PROBLEM

Does matching with someone on an online dating app mean you really match with them?

Dating applications expose users to a superficial atmosphere. The ease of swiping and liking actions foster an environment of mindless interactions that overcrowd potential matches which undermines how users would interact.
Quotation mark

I'm usually very fast-paced on dating apps and it easily creates muscle memory of swiping.

Andrew (19, Boston)

Quotation mark

Everything starts on a superficial level because you have to swipe on their picture first to match.

Celine (21, Los Angeles)

Quotation mark

I do tend to be hesitant but only until when I see the other person puts effort to engage in a conversation.

William (25, Houston)

Key Insights from the Survey to the Interviews

1

The ease of swiping and liking actions foster an environment of mindless interactions that overcrowd potential matches which undermines how users would interact.

2

People’s personalities and interests are qualities that are hard to see based off of short interactions and require time and commitment to really get to know each other. 

3

The expectation for a user to present the most physically attractive versions of themselves pressures them to give the impression of a certain image that deviates from who they really are.
RESEARCH

Initial Market Validation

What is the current stigma of dating applications? With the goal to understand the perspectives of users from different stages of the experience, we sent out a survey to a pool of 60 participants consists of current dating app users, ex-users, and non-dating app users.

Customizable Profile

Having a profile that shows a person's stories is a key to a great first impression.
Having different options to create a profile allows users to let their individuality shine. 
Our survey was divided into three sections in total: for all, for users, and for non-users. Based on their answers from the first section, the participants were sectioned off into either the second or third section to finish up the survey. We realized that many people would assume that people are on dating applications for superficial reasons(e.g. hookups and peer validation) although the intentions behind the actual dating app users reflected the other way.
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We wanted to find why such a reputation exists, so we decided to conduct our secondary research by interviewing three dating app users from different demographics.
Some questions that we asked to understand the pain points

HMW satisfies users with different levels of intentions?

HMW reduce amount of mindless/instant swipes?

HMW facilitate conversations between the users?

HMW make each individual appears less superficial?

HMW bring intimacy and personality from real life into a online profile?

HMW emphasize an individual's personality?

Ideation

Brainstorm

Our team came up with an individual set of wireframes to envision how each feature will function. We came up with three possible directions in total and ideated from there.
  1. Coupon to incentivize users for creating a positive cycle of efforts and time 
  2. Mission to bring like-minded people together and create memories 
  3. Challenges as a replacement for swiping to slow down the process 
EMPATHY

Tommy and Elle

With the data we have collected, we created two personas, Tommy and Elle. We also storyboarded how Tommy and Elle would engage with Ember.

Idea 1: Coupons

Coupons for people that fulfilled a certain amount of conversations or interactions. Needs to be scanned from both phones to be activated.

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Hypothesis: Having to reach certain milestones will incentivize the users into doing so.

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Why did it fail? We realized that interactions and communications shouldn’t be calculated and be based on a reward system. We understood that this feature was adding to the superficialness of online dating.

Idea 2: Missions

Missions that can be completed together to unlock certain interests or more pictures of the potential person that you’re talking to. 

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Hypothesis: By implementing a mission-focused component, we'll reach the goal of creating a more intentional and genuine relationship.

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Why did it fail? We realized that completing missions together would hinder users who had different schedules/pace or were less inclined to do icebreakers as they have different intentions.

Onboarding 1

Onboarding 2

Idea 3: Challenges (Implemented)

Optional challenges to allow users to complete at their own interest and time schedule. By giving the option to complete a challenge, it heightens the interests of users on the receiving end because of the extra effort made by their potential matches while also being considerate of all user’s conditions.

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Hypothesis: It will allow users to have an ice breaker, creative outlet, and show extra effort.

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Why was it implemented? We realized that by having it optional, it will allow users to be more thoughtful during the process and also be personal which will be a win-win on both giving and receiving ends.

Challenges

A user can either comment or complete a challenge as a replacement for swipes. It also gamifies the experience with personal interests. 

Receiving Likes

Sending Likes

Lighting a Match

In the beginning, the user's portraits will be blurred out. We realize that matter of physical appearance depends on each individual so in order to reveal, simply light a match and it will defrost once both agree.
REFLECTION

Our Key Takeaways

Here are some of my key takeaways throughout the design journey!
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  1. Finding an ideal middle ground—Of course, each individual user is different and we would love to have let them shine. It was important for us to find the middle ground of flexibility and convenience. For certain features that are relatively new to the market like customizable profiles and frosted portraits, we kept them as an option to make them a choice, not limitations.
  2. Redefining "superficialness"—In the beginning, we started off with assumptions that focusing on physical appearance is a superficial behavior along with many other things. However, we realized we as designers are not in a place where to judge whether one preference is less superficial than another. We focused on highlighting individualities, rather than judging a user's behaviors off our assumptions.
  3. Understanding different paces—We learned the importance of opening up room for users at different paces. Rather than focusing on how to facilitate the conversations and long-lasting relationships, we decided to focus on the process and finding a good match. We understand that each different intention is valid and want Ember to be a safe space to introduce them.

© 2020 by Janice | This website was designed with ❀️on Wix Playgroud Academy

© 2020 by Janice

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