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See you (见面)

a video call app designed for elders in China to connect with family and friends

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My Role

UX/UI designer; UX researcher

Deliverables

Research analysis; Personas; Wireframes; Prototypes 

Tools

Figma; Photoshop; Maze

Duration

1 month

Pr😕blem

Empty nesters in China:  increasing loneliness and disconnection during covid

50%

Chinese elders are "empty nesters"

28.6%

seniors in the countryside feel lonely frequently

16.5%

seniors in cities feel lonely frequently

The Goal 🎯

My goal is to design a product to find an easy way for elders in China to connect with family members and friends online.

Overview

Overview

Solution 🔑

#Log-in and video call: We are only one or two clicks away.

Video call to connect with each other

Log in and one click to video call to see each other face to face for most recent contacts. They can also go to "contacts" to call the people.

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#No non-sense small talk. We are connected for a reason.

Online movie, TV, shopping and chess to enjoy time together

Users will be able to watch movies, TV series, shopping on Taobao and play chess when in a video call.

#I want to see you, no matter you are online or offline.

Leave a video message when the other person is not online

Users will be able to leave a video message when the other person is not online.

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How did I get there?

At the very beginning stage of the design, the only thing I know is that I am going to design something for the elders. Yet what is their acceptance level of technology? What specific forms of connection do they need? What are the challenges they are facing to connect? I have no idea. With all these questions in mind, I embarked on this design journey by research.

Understand Users 🙋

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Key take-aways: 

  • Smartphones are most popular among elders. Elders have a preference for large screen smartphones with large fonts.

  • The disconnection on mobile phones encompasses both technological barriers and psychological discouragements.

Elders do need a better product to connect them with friends and families. In the interview, some elders mentioned popular apps they are using. I also want to know what apps have been launched in the market to study their strengths. Meanwhile, does they address the need of connection for elders? How? What aspects they have not achieved? Why? What opportunities and constraints are there? 

Understand Users

Competitive Analysis📰

I searched for existing apps in the Chinese market. The current products possibly for elders to connect with others can mainly be divided into three categories:

1. strangers and plaza socialization

2. dating apps or websites for elders

3. normal social chat apps not specifically designed for elders

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Difficult navigation, possible scams, being dating-oriented and not elder-friendly features are major hurdles for elders in China to connect with others better through existing electronic products.

With all these key findings in the secondary research, my understanding of elders' needs and current frustrations became deeper and more consistent. I am surprised to find out that there can be elders who are unable to type or read the texts. Later I searched more secondary resources and confirmed that being unable to type and see the screen clearly are the major two reasons for elders to access the internet.  Before proceeding to the next step, I had a recap of the key findings.

Research Summary

Psychological barriers
The top two challenges discouraging them to connect with users are lack of topics, fear of interruption and complicated navigation. 
 
Technological Barriers
Elders who have difficulty in reading and writing feel discouraged in using smartphones to connect with others and they usually just wait for calls from others. 
Market Barriers
The existing products in the market cannot address this issue  difficult navigation, possible scams, being dating-oriented and not elder-friendly features during using the related products.

Personas😯

Based on the research above, I divided the elders group into two types according to their familiarity of digital products. I crafted two personas to represent users needs and goals. 

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Define Success✍

The next question hit me: How can I know my design is successful? For users like Fang He, who are already familiar with simple navigation on the electronic devices, the metric of a successful design must be totally different from people like Zhixiang Yu, who are still intimidated by the complicated navigation on mobile phones.

Pain points

User goals

Not much tech-literate users
  • difficult to read or type online

  • difficult to handle complicated navigation

  • possible scams

  • Easy to navigate, least clicks

  • no scam

Basic tech-literate/tech-savvy users
  • not elders-focused product

  • cannot have more comfortable conversations with others

  • possible scams

  • elders-based community

  • feel comfortable in conversations

  • no scam

A successful product should be:

#Be efficient: Easy to navigate for people who are not that literate with electronic devices.

#Be engaging: Provide comfort for users to connect and talk.

#Be safe: No scam so people feel safe to use.

So far, I have understood the users, specified users needs and defined the goals and metrics. It is time for me think about solving the problems. 

Define Success

​Ideate solutions 🧠

Solution 1 connect call function with TV  and share TV screen

Considerations:

👍the elders are familiar with using TV set

👍they will be able to answer the call quickly and easily

👎still need to learn a new set of button to initiate the call

👎limitation of spaces

# Not efficient enough 

How can I make it more efficient?

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Solution 2   one-click to text/call product for people and do something together online

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​Considerations: 

👍similar to their everyday apps or website use

👍 intuitive and efficient

👎the scamming can also be a problem through texting if they add someone they do not really know on this product. 

#not safe enough #should be more specific in how to engage them

How can I make it safer and more engaging?

Solution 3 ( selected ): a video call product which enables games/web sharing

Considerations: 

👍cut down the scamming rate since it is video talk based

👍address the problem that some elders cannot read or write

👍easy navigation and more efficient

👎excluding text function can be troublesome in cases when users do not want to speak and they want to text simply

👎data-consuming if video calling is the only option.

#safe #engaging #efficient

To include text function or not, that is the question.

👇Trade-off decision 

exclude the text function and only leave the video-call as the main way of communications

I took three further steps to make the decision:

(1) I did a secondary research again and found out that elders,  are mostly accessible to data use and wifi. The telecommunication companies in China usually offer a promotion price for elders in data use.

(2) I revisited the user pain points: connection is the major and first thing in this design. 

(3) I searched other chat products and asked users' opinions, they can go to other apps to text if they want.

Ideate Solutons

Design Decisions😀

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Solution
Pain point 1: Hard to navigate; cannot read or write
Decision #1

The users can call the person simply by log-in and click the video call button immediately. They are able to "see" each other on the spot if successfully connected.

Pain point 2: do not want to interrupt others' life if they are busy.
Decision #2

The users will be able to see wheather the other person is available or not with a blue spot beside the profile.

Design Decisions
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Pain point 4: Possible scams from unknown strangers 
Decision #4

Even if not being able to connect, the user can choose to leave a video message to the other person. No texts will be included, which cuts down the rate of being scammed. They can identify the person through video and voice.

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Pain point 3: Lack of topics to talk about; feel awkward sometimes
Decision #3

When connected, the users will be able to watch movies, shopping, watch TV, play games together so that they will have common topics and quality time spent together.

(PS: It is also easy to click by seeing the icons.)

Adjustment from Lo-fi Usability Test

I did a moderated usability test for my lo-fi first to test features and users' navigation. I made changes on two pages for my lo-fi prototype.

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Lo-fi Usability Test

Hi-fi Test (😂again and again)

After finishing the hi-fi prototype, I recruited 3 volunteers for remote moderated usability test and collected 20 unmoderated responses by sending real users maze link.

Why?

I considered that some of the users might need additional assistant/translation to understand them better since they cannot read and write. Therefore, I did moderated test. For others who can read, they did the unmoderated test.

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Major feedback from the users for improvement🍐

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Hi-fi Test

Iterate 🛠🙇‍♀️

There is a total of 3 rounds of iteration. I changed and add some features according to the usability test.

Iterate

Adjustments Recap

Before😐

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After😀

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Feature added🌟: calling history

Users will be able to see the recent calls and video again with one click.

Feature added🌟: notification spot for new video messages.

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Feature added🌟: find contact from mobile phone contact

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Text added🌟: texts are added under icons as users say it is hard to identify.

Feature added🌟: a shopping together entry is added for users who want to shop online together.

FINAL PROTOTYPE🎉

REFLECTION 💭

见面(SEE YOU ) is designed for social good, shifting spotlight on elders and their mental well-being. I see their needs and I want to communicate my concern and care through my design.What I learned from this case study includes:

#Designers are not Users.

The best way to assess a feature or product is to see how users use it and collect users' ideas and feedback. I love doing user research, interviews and usability test because I am always intrigued when doing research and usability test as the targeted users offer me fresh ideas and needs that I do not expect. 

#Accessibility Design.

Use the accessibility checkbox and bring the design to more users with special needs. It also important to not have assumptions before designing a product. Be aware of my own stereotypes.

 

#Balance Creativity and Practicality.

SEE YOU is unique as it minimalizes the texting function in the design and simplifies the navigation for people who might not be able to read and write while combining the needs of those who are literate. There are always constraints, yet there are always possibilities for a better design concept. 

Ilustrations used on this page credit to Undraw.

Reflection

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