Market Analysis & Blue Ocean
For this project, the app idea needed to be validated against the market. The first step was to see what other apps existed in this industry that catered to people in relationships. There were not many at all. Most apps were for people that were seeking a relationship; not people already in a relationship. The process started with understanding the nature of the industry itself and why it existed in the first place. The next step was to look into the details. This is where the feature comparison chart came into play. It contains a list of existing competitors and their features. The features that exist in all or most of the apps are the users mental models. This is what the users are expecting to see. The features not overlapping are unique to their app these are features I could either validate through testing or possibly stay away from if its not a vital part of the users mental models. The chart then helps me place the companies on a market positioning map which tells me where the blue ocean is- this is the area with the most opportunity- an area in the market nobody has explored. Being that Love Bound doesn’t actually exist yet the first priority was to get it on the market and moving rapidly toward that blue ocean.
Research & Discovery
Qualitative & Quantitative Data
The user research was my favorite part of this project. I was able to connect with many people and listen to their stories. I sent out surveys and received 102 responses. I also interviewed 10 individuals. The data received was detailed and personal. Often it almost felt like a therapy session and I was the therapist allowing them a form of release.
Synthesizing the data was done with an affinity map. I gathered information, grouped the information, and spotted any trends or patterns. I found that many of the triggers overlapped across individuals. Stress from the day was burdening couples. If someone had a bad day at work they often had residual irritation from their day seep into their relationship in the form of attitudes and negative tones of voice. The pain points became my focus in this project because the goal was to heal any unmet needs. The secondary focus was the habits and motivations of the user- these would help me in optimizing they relationship habits.
Using the data I created a persona that would represent the target market the app would serve. The persona is based on the “average user” or the couples already interested in strengthening their relationship on their own accord. Because of my time restrictions I stuck to just making one persona. The persona is from the female perspective. This is because I noticed that many of the relationship apps were aimed towards women. A males POV would have been amazing but I needed to pick one POV to start the project so since more data was from the female perspective it made more sense to have a female representative. If I had more time I would have had the male POV as well.
In this phase I called in for help- it was crucial that the ideas were not only from me. So I called in another designer who also happened to be one of the people I interviewed for this project. Together we time boxed ourselves and let our creative juices flood the room. We came up with a plethora of possible solutions. The process had Annoyed Annie in the center- since this is user centered design. We chose three of the major issues found in the research phase and we created how might we statements. This guided our brainstorming session.
Minimum Viable Product
Now, we needed to converge. After coming up with a lot of solutions we needed to filter them. For the feature prioritization process I used the MoSCoW method and impact vs. effort chart. Through this process we were able to create the MVP. This set the tone for the rest of the design process.
The flow for the key distinguishing feature needed to be extremely quick because the KDF would be a tool they could use while they were experiencing an emotional pain body or even extremely joyful. When one experiences these emotions- they cannot think clearly and they can enter into a positive feedback loop where the negative emotions become exponentially worse. With this in mind quick was the priority. The KDF was an alert that the emotional partner would send out to their partner. This is tracked with a calendar so they can spot any emotional trends. The alert is there to help the couple communicate their emotional state before they see each other. The idea behind this is to allow the other partner to adjust their approach to the emotional partner- or to give them the chance of taking some space. And the emotional partner has a signpost which shows why there would be any unintended attitudes.
Low Fidelity Wireframes
After the flow was determined the low fidelity wireframes gave us version one of what the app would look like. To determine the placement of the content I used the crazy 8 method and had possible users vote on the layout they felt they understood the most. Once there was a winner among the sketches I created the low fi with the flow in mind. I tested the low fidelity wireframes to see if there would be anything wrong with the flow we set up and found some issues which were addressed in the id fidelity phase.
Mid Fidelity Wireframes
The mid fidelity phase showed me that the flow was fairly clear. However there were still things that needed to be addressed. Possibly the biggest take away from testing the mid fidelity prototypes was that I needed to change the word alert on the “mood alert” which was the KDF. The word alert was alarming for some testers- they didn’t know if they should press that button because they related the word “alert” to an emergency.
Stepping into the UI phase was for this project was a balancing act. I didn’t want to make the app feminine because the app was aimed at men as well as females. The persona was female but the app was supposed to be gender neutral. The colors needed to be calming colors as well as colors that would allow the user to trust the app to help them with their problems and animate situations.
High Fidelity Wireframes
The high fidelity wireframes were tested for desirability and usability. The desirability tests showed that the app has a strong “playful” element to it. Specifically the Bitmojii integration gave off a clear illustration of emotions but also a less serious tone which made it more playful. The homepage holds the goals of the week and on scroll shows the calendar with the pattern of emotions on there. The reason the calendar if in the front is to have any patterns in emotions front and center so they can be addressed if it is mostly negative.
To conclude this app was a fun project. I enjoyed connecting with people and hearing their stories. Providing a solution for couple to avoid conflict as well as optimizing their partnership gives me tons of joy. Couples are burdened by finances, temptation, emotional trauma from the past, and different ideologies. The app serves as a safe middle ground to iron out any relationship flaws and build the relationship to its full potential. Conflict is inevitable and there is actually a healthy level of conflict needed in a relationship. However- conflict can destroy a relationship if it is not handled with care. This app is here to enable a happily ever after.