'Designed to be deleted'...but first let’s break the ice!

My Role | Research, UX, UI

*Note: This is a non-commissioned project

The pandemic has changed online dating whether it is something liked or not. Many users spend time video- calling a match before they decide to meet up in person but often the interaction can be a little awkward at first. This can often leave the user feeling discouraged and at the worst, unwilling to try virtual dating again. How might we make the experience more positive

01. Researching the Background

Understanding the other guys

Hinge's main competitors are Tinder, Bumble and Match who have also implemented features due to the pandemic such as: 

Tinder's Face to Face video call in-app
Bumble's Question Game in-chat
User dating habits in the pandemic

I interviewed 6 participants who have dated or are currently dating during the pandemic and asked them about their experience. Most participants had a virtual call or used a new feature implemented due to the pandemic but found it to be awkward with even one participant not willing to try virtual dating at all.

First 3 minutes of dating are awk and then it's fine...conversations center around 'how is your day' or 'how's it going'
Had done enough Zoom meetings at work but it was weird since it wasn't like there were other people on the call to fill in the silence so it was strange
Not something I want to do, I feel like the person could act like a robot and is a different experience
Who is the main user?

Overall from the research, I found that people have become more intentional with their dating and that with the ongoing isolation and safety precautions, there is high need for human connection. Virtual dating normally errs on being awkward for the first few minutes but there is still an interest in trying again as it is often the first step to suss someone out before meeting in-person.

02. Laying Out a Structure

How Might We Make Virtual Dating Less Awkward

To make the actual virtual date more effortless, the solution points to making the users more comfortable so that they are both willing to continue the conversation. Therefore, I designed an optional icebreaker game feature for users to play to help soften the first few minutes of their virtual date.

Bare bones of the new feature

The new feature existing inside of Hinge would consist of a few new screens before the users would choose to go back to the call:

03. Designing Upon the Structure

So how does it look like? 

I wanted to focus more on the UI Design, so after putting together a few sketches on detailing out the new feature screens, I designed the preliminary Hi-Fi UI Design.

In-app calling with 'Game' button
Game Menu Screen
Game Sub-Menu Screen
Madlibs Instruction Screen
Madlibs First Question
Cancellation Screen
Never Have I Ever Screen
Game Completion Screen

04. Testing and Final Iteration

I conducted usability testing with a 90% success rate with the feedback received organized into an Affinity Map in order to prioritize the Key Takeaways for the final round of iteration.

Understanding key iterations from testing
Takeaway No. 1
Madlibs Game Format

Format of game was not recognized by half of the users. Changed format where the full sentence with a blank is displayed

Takeaway No. 2
Madlibs Categories

The Random category was a point of contention; to make it clearer a different color was used to differentiate it from the other categories

Takeaway No. 3
Game Button

Not immediately clear as to go back to the video call, another icon is used to make it clearer

Final Thoughts & Final UI Design

The overall lesson and idea I had to keep in mind was to not overcomplicate the added feature. I needed to ensure that this icebreaker game idea was easy to understand for the user and the user flow was intuitive.