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

Duration

January 2021–February 2021

Team

Christine
Izzy

My Role

User Interview
Persona/Journey Mapping
Wireframing/Prototyping

"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.​ 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.

*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

problem

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

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

Market validation

What is the current stigma of dating applications?

For this project, various research methods were used with a primary goal of understanding what stigma of dating applications exists and why it exists.

Initial survey (58 responses)

What do you think dating apps primarily used for?

survey answered by both dating app users and non dating app users

What do you use dating apps primarily for?

survey answered by current and ex-dating app users

In summary, although the majority of the survey participants were active dating app users that were looking for a significant other(63.3%), there were still such assumptions that dating apps are used for superficial reasons(e.g. hookups and peer validation) meaning that the users' intentions were not clearly aligned. We wanted to find why such reputation exists, so we decided to conduct our secondary research by interviewing

User Interviews (5 participants)

ANDREW (19, BOSTON)

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

CELINE (21, LOS ANGELES)

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

WILLIAM (25, HOUSTON)

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

Swiping itself brings joy of meeting new people, it's the clarity of intentions behind the ease of swiping

→ How do other apps in the market currently utilize this user behavior on swiping and matching?

competitive analysis

key insights

1. Dating apps often incentivize and enable behavior that isn’t conducive to long-term relationships

2. The current atmosphere of dating apps doesn't allow users to be clear with the intentions, which leads to many users' hesitancy to be honest

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.

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

Understanding our users

Empathy

Goal for Kyle:
→ has clear ideas about his matches’ intentions
→ finds exploration joyful

Goal for Sharon:
→ finds it easy to facilitate conversations
→ has clear ideas about her matches’ individuality

ideation

Some Trials and Errors

Idea 1: Coupons

Hypothesis: Having to reach certain milestones will incentivize users to spend time with one another.

Idea 2: Missions

Hypothesis: Users will bond as they experience more tasks together creating a more genuine relationship and providing a foundation to build relationships upon.

Idea 3: challenges

Hypothesis: Optional challenges that allow users to complete at their own interest and time schedule will highten the interests of users on the receiving end.

This can be a both thoughtful and personal approach which will be a win-win on both giving and receiving ends from the extra effort made by their potential matches..

design

Introducing Ember v.1

usability testing

Test, Iterate, and Repeat

With our first version of the product, we led an open conversation with 5 active dating app users from our initial survey on how our product is doing well and how we could improve.

Simplify Onboarding

what was said

"Being able to customize profile is interesting"
"there could be other ways to address flexibility and creativity in the profile that are not necessarily building the profile from scratch."

what was changed

Profile section is organized into two taps
When a user first downloads the app, they see a profile of others before making their own

Improve Discoverability

what was said

"I didn’t understand why the images were blurry at first. It took me a while to find “light a match” button under the profile."

what was changed

A chip informing users about the status between the two in terms of “lighting a match”
A toast in chat and profile tab giving users an easier navigation of “lighting a match”

reflection

Our Key Takeaways

As we were in charge of this project end-to-end(even outside of the design!), it was such a fun exercise for three of us to virtually collaborate. We became more creative about how to utilize the digital space more efficiently, better showcase our ideas and proposals to our supervisors, and communicate with limited resources.

Designing with no business constraints allowed us to fully explore and be adventurous as well, and I was able to find what it is like to design with joy. To finish off, here are some of my takeaways!!

→ finding the middle ground of flexibility and convenience.

→ we are not designing to define what's more superficial than another, but to allow users to better define their own priorities.

→ The importance of including all users at different paces

Thank you!