UI Design Refresh
When working in a startup there are always tight deadlines to present concepts to investors. This in itself was a challenge as stakeholders wanted to prioritise new designs as opposed to research.
Our starting point was making visual changes to create a slick, modern interface and to improve usability - while also creating the visuals needed for pitches. Issues addressed included:
Increasing button sizing
Changing link colour to create a contrast from regular text
Editing colours to improve legibility of both text and icons
Creating a new set of cohesive iconography unique to flaim
Ensuring design patterns remained consistent
flaim was geared for instant messaging and calls, but stakeholders looked to transform the app into an integrated social media platform that would rival the likes of Facebook and Instagram.
During this concept creation phase we again had difficulty with stakeholders in getting them to see the value of a research first approach. The main drive was to present something tangible to investors in the form of high fidelity mock ups.
Stakeholders had general list of what needed to be incorporated into the new Channels concept so we held workshops in order to see how these features could be incorporated into the app. These workshops consisted of card sorting as well as rapid wireframing and journey mapping to see how these ideas might work.
Wireframing, Prototyping and User Testing
From the workshops, we had an understanding of the required features and had theories for possible solutions. Wireframes were drawn to see if the journey made sense to the user. We then moved onto high fidelity mockups and created prototypes on Invision - meeting the need for stakeholders to present concepts back to investors. The prototypes were also tested via UserBrain to gain unbiased feedback from our target audience.
The UserBrain feedback allowed us to improve how features were integrated into the app. One significant change was the structure of the channel feed. Users remarked that it was difficult to distinguish the information (comments, likes, sharing etc) that belonged to each post once they were stacked. The solution was to alter the design to make it clear where one post stopped and the next started.
At this point the channels segment was put on hold while the development team concentrated on app stability. Without the push of designs for investors, we were finally able to begin researching the features and developing personas for one of our primary launch markets, Nigeria.
We used online surveys and scholarly papers in order to gain insight into everyday life for Nigerians. The next step was to organise in person interviews with our target audience in Nigeria. Areas used to establish personas and validate company hypothesis’ include: Nigerian literacy levels, smartphone and social media usage and their daily life activities.
Some key points we discovered from the research included:
Group chats are extremely important - 92% of participants were part of at least one group chat and nearly 40% of them were in group chats with over 100 other people.
Nigerians are using social communication such as WhatsApp as a community noticeboard to expand their business, learn about threats in the community, educate others on medical issues and to provide support for each other - whether they knew them personally or not.
Data is often seen as expensive and that affected participants' usage of apps. Many would either download the 'lite' versions of apps to consume less data, adjust their usage by not watching videos or completely forgo downloading apps, such as Instagram, because they couldn't afford to pay for the data usage that came with their daily use.
The biggest challenge in this project was getting stakeholders on board and realise the importance of research to validate ideas. They were known to implement ideas based on thoughts rather than facts and it was a positive step to see them ask for research first.
The most critical learnings came from the research conducted through online surveys with the Nigerian target audience and this will need to be built upon through the next stages. In-person interviews will really help engage users to find out how we can shape the product that helps solve some of their problems in their daily lives.
It was important to push for research first and now that stakeholders have seen the value in this, flaim will be able to progress even more rapidly than before.