Designing a mobile app that connects sports partners
Timeline: 10 hours
Event: Spectra Hackathon, a women's hackathon held on July 23, 2016 at YouTube HQ, San Bruno, CA.
Team: 5 people
My role: I was Lead Designer and Facilitator in a team that consisted of two developers, a QA Analyst and a student getting her Master's degree in Human-Computer Interaction.
"It's hard to find a partner to go rock climbing with."
A member of our team likes rock climbing. Her friends aren't interested in the activity so she has to find a partner at the gym. She usually asks the front desk to make an announcement. Sometimes, she gets lucky and at other times, she has to opt for another form of exercise because no one's available to rock climb with her.
As our team discussed the problem, we realized that users playing other sports that require a partner, such as tennis and racquetball face a similar challenge.
A mobile app that matches people interested in playing sports
In less than ten hours, we built out the core screens of WePlay, a mobile app that connects users looking for a sports partner.
What's important when looking for a sports partner?
I interviewed my teammate to understand her experience and gained the following insights:
- Time and location are critical - Finding someone to work out with at a time and place that's convenient is key.
- Skill level is good to know - Knowing ahead of time how much experience a person has with a sport helps set expectations.
- Need a way to keep in touch after the activity - If users want to meet again, they'd like to a way to make contact. They may not be ready to share personal contact information because they are acquaintances.
Using Collaborative Design to build the solution
I introduced the concept of the Design Studio to the team as I wanted everyone on the team to have a shared sense of investment. Prior to beginning the exercise, I drew up a persona so the entire team could visualize the same user and design accordingly.
The Design Studio resulted in a wealth of ideas: onboarding, location-based search, Tinder-style card for each partner profile, calendar, in-app messaging, gym/club rating and partner rating.
We selected only those ideas we could execute on:
- Time and location information - makes it easy for users to select a partner based on availability
- Positive partner rating - allows users to give partners a "thumbs up". We eliminated a "thumbs down" option so we could promote a positive experience with the app.
- In-app messaging - enables communication between users
Taking these ideas, I began sketching new wireframes.
Iterating to refine the design
I went through several iterations of sketching with input from the user. Some key changes were made:
- Show only relevant sports - The user indicates the sports they are interested in when setting up the profile and therefore, would see only those sports in the feed.
- Remove skill level from the feed - Initially, skill level was displayed in the activity feed. It was later moved to the request screen as the user prioritized location, date and time over expertise.
- Partner rating notification - In the initial design, the user would receive a notification in their mailbox asking them to rate their partner. In a later iteration, I had the notification appear in the Activity feed to make it easier for the user to rate their partner. This eliminates the extra step of going into the mailbox.
The following wireframes demonstrate the process of creating a request, receiving a message from an interested partner and a notification to rate the partner, after the activity.
Improving the design with user feedback
The initial design included requests organized by activity date. Users mentioned they wanted to see their newly created request appear in the feed. So, the requests were organized by the date they were created, latest to oldest.
10 hours + a team of passionate women in tech = an MVP
In a matter of ten hours, the five of us met, formed a team, designed an app and presented to a group of judges.
Being the sole UX designer, I recognized the importance of explaining my design decisions to my team and to the judges.
Also, as a team, we were forced us to set aside "nice to have" features from those that were most relevant and viable, given the tight deadline.
It was a challenging and exhilarating experience!