hygge

A social app that promotes community-building through friendships, events, and groups

Overview

Roughly 27 million Americans move per year and many of them consider it a stressful experience since they often do not have the social resources to help them adjust to their new neighborhoods. To address this issue, I designed an app that helps people find their communities within new neighborhoods.

Role
UX Research, UI/UX Design, Ideation, Sketching, Interaction and Visual Design, Wireframing, Prototyping, Usability Testing
Duration
Sept - Dec 2022
Team
Personal Project driven by my curiosity to enhance community discovery, as a digital nomad myself
Tools
Figma, Miro, OptimalSort, Maze

Research

How do people navigate new neighborhoods?

Research shows that 64% of Americans view their most recent move as one of the most stressful things they had ever experienced. Other studies find anxiety and depression to be the most common emotions after moving. In general, people move most often in their 20s and 30s since this is a phase in which many changes take place, such as relocating for work or starting families.

Knowing that many 20 and 30-somethings move for various reasons, I wanted to see if there was any way to improve American young adults' social experiences after moving. To get started, I listed out 4 research objectives to guide me throughout the research phase.

Friendship and community are top priorities after moving

I conducted 6 user interviews to collect data on people's moving journeys and consolidated my findings below.

Based on my findings, I discovered that although building solid friendships and engaging in communities were important for users after moving somewhere new, most people were really only meeting new friends through existing friends and in some cases, classes. Users found it challenging when they didn't know much about the new cities or have many connections to begin with.

Pros and cons of existing social apps

In addition to sharing about their experiences post-moving, users described the tools that they used along the process – the pros and cons of social apps.

In summary, users utilized social apps to find like-minded individuals and place/event recommendations. Overall, these apps helped users achieve their goals but shortcomings such as missing information and lack of filters to personalize the experience introduced usability friction that kept users from staying engaged on these platforms.

Current social apps don't provide personalized experiences

I looked into social apps for making new friends to learn about the features that competitors offered and to identify possible opportunities to solve problems that haven't been addressed.

Despite providing users with interest-based groups and the ability to connect with other users, none of the competitors curated content specifically for each user. They didn't learn users' behavior and needs over time, displaying arbitrary events and groups to users, which made the home and explore feeds less captivating to scroll through.

I compiled the strengths and weaknesses of these competitors to determine any gaps between what they provided and what users wanted.

Although these competitors all supported users after their move to new cities, weaknesses such as cluttered layouts, insufficient information about events or groups, and impersonal feeds all make these apps inconvenient to use.

User Persona

My research revealed insights about people's sentiments, goals, and frustrations after moving. To empathize with target users, I identified two personas – Elise, an outgoing mom in her 30s looking for new friends to explore activities with and Ryan, an introverted incoming grad student who hopes to branch out in a new city.

Through the exploration of this user persona, I learned that users wanted ways to connect with people outside of their existing friend circles and ways to discover exciting information about local events and groups.

How might we help young adults...

meet new people outside of their existing friend circles?

discover fun things to do?

reduce overwhelming environments through inclusivity?

Ideation

Brainstorming features

I created a feature roadmap to prioritize which features to include, based on the following importance ranking – must-have, nice-to-have, surprising and delightful, and can-come-later. This table helped me visualize where content might go on Hygge.

Organizing features hierarchically

Going down the list of features from must-have to can-come-later in my feature roadmap, I created a sitemap to organize all the features and to see how they related to each other hierarchically.

Listing out tasks that users can accomplish

After constructing the site map, I explored the main functions on the app – signing up and logging in as a first-time user, finding a new friend to message, and registering for an event that interests them.

Initial wireframes

Referencing the sitemap and task flows, I sketched some key screens on the app – the Explore tab, Message tab, and user profiles. In Explore, users can discover new friends, upcoming events, and groups based on their interests and personal preferences (specified through search filter). In Message, users can see all their messages and send messages to other users. Under Profile, users can customize their accounts by adding details such as bios and interests.

Style guide

To create a community that is welcoming, inclusive, and fun, I went for warmer colors as they are more commonly associated with warmth, energy, and sociability. I also wanted to incorporate a bit of green to convey fresh starts and growth. Ultimately, I picked a sunny orange-yellow as the primary color and a soothing green as the secondary color. To complement the colors, I chose Nunito, a rounded font that radiates vibrancy.

Bringing my designs to life

After creating the style guide, I applied colors, branding, and images to my mid-fidelity wireframes, keeping hygge's brand identity in mind and prioritizing both usability and visual appeal.

Testing and feedback

The high-fidelity prototype provided three core features all located in the Explore tab:
1. A friend page where users can friend and message other users
2. An event page where users can register for events
3. A group page where users can join groups that interest them.

A total of six people tested out my prototype. During each usability test, users attempted to complete tasks that directly addressed the three core features.

In addition to collecting user feedback, I made several observations during the usability tests. The main confusion users faced was attempting to click on the search bar first rather than scroll to find things. Their first instinct was to turn to the search bar, which had not been implemented for the test. Other pain points mainly centered around language choice or UI element placements. For example, a user did not expect "Get Started" on the the hero page to immediately take them to creating a new account.

Aside from pain points, users generally found it fairly easy to complete the presented tasks. The task completion rate was 100% and average difficulty rating for all the task flows combined was 2.13 out of 10 (with 10 being the most difficult). Everyone thought that the UI elements were familiar and standard.

Iteration

ONBOARDING

Simplified registration

During usability testing, a common frustration among users was how onboarding asked for a lot of information, some of which users didn’t want to give out. Instead of asking for a user’s entire home address, I reduced the number of form fields to just zip code. This not only kept onboarding concise but also protected the privacy of sensitive users.

EXPLORE events

Personalized content

For each user, "Recommended for you" is likely the most relevant section since it directly applies to them. Previously, users had to scroll to find that section so I brought it to the top to create a stronger visual hierarchy.

EVENT DETAILS

Greater transparency

Users indicated that they wanted to see more details about an event before they registered, such as where an event was taking place and whether or not any of their friends were attending it. I increased the clarity of the event description page by adding more details, including event neighborhood and event attendees.

Enhancing security

A concern that users had was the possibility of encountering scammers or other untrustworthy users when trying to connect with people on the platform. To make finding friends a secure experience, I decided to add a verification feature. A user would verify their identity by uploading photos to their account and snapping a selfie that matches a pose requested by hygge. A hygge member would then review the photo and confirm or deny it. If denied, a user can retake and resubmit selfies until accepted.

After a user is verified, the user would see a verified badge next to their name, which would appear to other users as well. This whole process is to help users build meaningful friendships that are safe and genuine.

Final prototype

This updated solution kept onboarding brief, polished visual hierarchy, and clarified event details to help users understand upcoming events better.

COMMUNITY-BUILDING MADE EASIER

Discover new friends, events, and groups

Users can conveniently connect with new people in their neighborhoods and participate in events and groups that pique their interest.

SEARCH FILTER

Customize search results

Whether users are looking for small and tight-knit groups that regularly meet every week or large events where they can converse with many different people, hygge's advanced search filter helps them achieve their goals.

Reflection

What I learned

Throughout this project, I learned the importance of doing more with less. I observed that many users find designs that solicit a lot of information from them nosy and annoying. This is especially applicable during onboarding processes, which can make or break user acquisition. Discovering frustrations from overly lengthy and complicated sign-up forms helped me significantly shorten the onboarding journey for Hygge and only ask for truly relevant user information. Afterall, we want to respect users' time and eliminate features that are not necessary so that we can ultimately create something that adds value to users' lives.

Next steps

If given more time, I would further enhance the user experience by conducting usability tests for my final prototype and looking into new features to incorporate. A “stories” feature where users can see what other users are up to (similar to Instagram) could potentially help users stay connected to each other. Useful information and map for neighborhood restaurants could also keep users engaged.

Check out my other work 🫧