Reframing Online Dating
Providing a fun and meaningful approach to meeting new people
Trust and user satisfaction are low in current online dating platforms. How can I reduce the pressure and provide a more informal approach to forming new relationships?
Strategy & Planning
User Experience Design
Bullfrog is a mobile app design project focusing on removing the stress and alienation caused by online dating solutions.
The app shifts the focus from being solely about dating to forming new relationships and meeting new people. Bullfrog creates a fun and meaningful user experience.
To understand how people use online dating apps, we interviewed a range of current and past users of dating apps.
It was important to talk to people who've been successful and unsuccessful in the past so we could assess the different user groups.
I wanted to get some of the interviewees more involved with the project by carrying out co-creation sessions. Participants were asked to draw how they view online dating; afterwards they were asked to create their ideal version of an online dating app.
This research method helped in digging deeper into some of the answers that were provided in the interviews. Participants revealed more about the problems faced when creating their own solutions.
Three personas were created to represent the primary user groups we identified throughout the research:
1. Josh – Flexible dater: The flexible dater isn’t looking for anything in particular but would be open to a relationship. They prefer a more personal approach and use dating apps quite passively.
2. Noah – Sensitive Dater: The sensitive dater is looking for a relationship and trying to find someone almost exclusively through dating apps. They’ve become disillusioned with dating apps due to rejection, but continue to use them very actively.
3. Chloe – Focused Dater: The focused dater is looking for a relationship and know what they want. They are very quick to judge someone and will reject people for very minor issues. They go on a lot of dates through online dating and use the applications quite actively.
It’s unclear what people are looking for on dating apps.
“It’s a free for all, you have all these different people with all these different expectations.”
Trust and shared humour is highly desirable.
“It’s hard to talk to someone when the next few lines are going to be interpreted as being asked on a date.”
Dating apps are too narrowly focused.
“I was never brave enough to approach anyone about my mental health, but I could help others.”
People blame themselves for rejection.
“Maybe if I was more confident I would have gone on more dates.”
I created empathy maps and brainstorms for each persona to uncover more about how people might feel about online dating. This helped to identify common goals among the user groups.
The empathy maps led to questions and how might we statements to help progress the ideation of the project. The primary how might we statement was:
"How might we change the focus of an app to be about forming relationships beyond just dating?"
Storyboards were used to progress the early stages of ideation and understand contexts of use.
Creating a story from the problem and a potential solution is a great and memorable way to guage interest in the concept
Sketching & Paper Prototyping
With a rough concept in mind I began to sketch paper wireframes and create user flows. Sketching allowed me to trial a huge range of approaches without commiting a lot of time.
This process was extremely helpful in getting feedback from users about what did and didn't work.
DESIGN & TEST
After testing flows and concepts with paper prototypes, I made digital wireframes to test with users.
Confusing UI elements were identified and navigation controls and swiping were not as intuitive as I had expected.
It was a mistake to use a placeholder colour at this low fidelity stage as many of the users initially commented on colour rather than usability.
The next wireframe version took the feedback of the user testing into account and imporved usability in many areas.
Some users felt that there were too many screens at certain points, which led me to rework the user flows and simplify the app.
The final design is a high fidelity full click through prototype.
The overall visual style, navigation and concept were all liked by the users.
Bullfrog is intended to be a fun alternative to initiating chats with people based on a shared humour. There is no pressure on either party to bring the conversation to a date, adding an element of surprise and lessening the impact of rejection.
Bullfrog is a geolocation based game and messaging system. Users are given a variety of prompts which they can answer through text or images. The answers to these prompts are sent to 3 random people in their area, every time an answer is sent, the user will receive an answer from someone else.
They can look at the profile of that person and choose to comment on the answer or continue on and answer more prompts of their own. Comments on answers are a means to open instant messaging with another person, if the other person replies to a comment both people can message freely.
The full user flow of Bullfrog was mapped out to ensure a fluid user experience. It was important to keep this flow in mind, ensuring simplification and increasing usability.
The final version of the app has some minor design issues identified though a heuristic analysis.
1. Helpful tips are present throughout the app which may clutter the design to an expert user.
2. The chat section has a footer navigation bar which isn’t present throughout the app.
3. Users don’t have to confirm when sending a hop; however, a confirmation prompt would impact the experience.
The level of alienation and disillusionment in dating apps throughout the research of this project was really interesting. I believe that the decision to reframe what online dating should be was the correct approach to reduce fear of failure, self blame and disinterest in dating.
Bullfrog would be provide users with a level of fun through discovery and surprise; the concept was very well liked by those involved with user testing.