Social Networking | Case Study | UX UI Design

Designing a social app to offer help or guidance through tough times

By Hunter Moranville

bodhi UX case study thumbnail

I think it’s safe to say that we have all experienced some struggles in our lives, and they are each unique to ourselves and our given situation. Sometimes you might not know how to get out of a situation, and are unsure of who to turn to for support. Well this project dives head first into this challenge. 

How can I design an environment where strangers going through difficult times feel safe to connect with one another?

Why is this an important problem to solve?

Life is challenging, and as much as some of us don’t like to admit it, we all could use a helping hand sometimes. When we’re going through a tough time there’s often someone who has gone through that same situation and can offer the best advice.  

"No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another."

- Charles Dickens

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Project Brief

Sometimes strangers who have gone through similar situations can give the best advice when we’re going through rough times in our lives. How can you design an environment where people who are seeking help, feel safe to connect and support each other?

My Role

UX Research, UX/UI Design, User Testing

This was a self-initiated project that I performed solo.

My Goals

To become more comfortable with the UX design process and to become more efficient with resources.

Timeline

3 days

🚨 SPOILER ALERT 🚨 

I didn’t meet my ambitious deadline. BUT I did learn a lot about time and project management. See reflections for more info.

Great! Okay, now that you know what didn't go well, let's go through what did go well.

Let's start with research

Before getting too far into the project, there were a few initial questions that I wanted to find answers to.

Why is it important to connect with one another?

  • Loneliness can be more harmful to your health than obesity and smoking
  • Social isolation has been linked to higher blood pressure, increased anxiety, depression and even
    suicidal thoughts
  • Individuals with many social connections feel higher self esteem, empathy, increased happiness, and a
    longer life
Insights

It’s going to be very important to design an experience that allows users to connect with a wide variety of people.

How can we create connections?

In many cases you will form connections with another person by engaging with them and finding something in common. You may also create connections with someone who offers you some help, a different perspective, advice, emotional support or validation. Sharing experiences is another great way to connect with others.

Additionally you can:

  • Listen with empathy and understanding
  • Be present and focused with each other
  • Establish go’s and no go’s (boundaries)
Insights

Respect is key in creating connections with others. You can do this by establishing Go’s and No Go’s. Sharing experiences is a great way to connect with strangers. 

How do you form new relationships?

To help form relationships with strangers you can ask questions, look for differences between you, talk about similarities, and show a general interest in their life. You can meet strangers by joining groups or clubs, taking a class, volunteering, introducing yourself to your neighbors, or by striking up a conversation with anyone around you.

Insights

Finding someone with a shared interest or experience allows the opportunity for bonds to occur and is a great conversation starter.

Crafting a User Persona 

Without conducting user interviews or having an already existing user base, I looked for key characteristics that my ideal user would possess. I created “Sam Struggles.” The key characteristics I focused on with Sam were; Sam wanted to feel supported, wanted a sense of community and didn’t have anyone around them to ask for help.

Even though Sam didn’t make it into the final design, this persona helped to shape the “People like me” feature and the signup flow.

How is this going to make money?

Yes please, let’s keep these lights on 💡

Since the whole app is about supporting and being empathetic with one another, I think its important to allow users to still connect with others but on a smaller scale. Users can interact with 3 posts at a time and will be shown 5 “people like you” that they can connect with. But in order to post their own posts, and unlock more people, they are encouraged to upgrade to get the full experience and wisdom of Bodhi.

Color Palette

UI Color Palette, a mix of blues, gray, white and black

The tone of voice

In an effort to create a safe environment for users to share these intimate and
personal moments of their lives, the tone of voice throughout the experience should portray a sense of safety, caring, and support.

  • Encourages the user
  • Acknowledges the difficulties
  • navigating life’s obstacles
  • Has a positive mood
  • Is gentle & empathetic
  • Is harsh
  • Has a negative mood
  • Is sarcastic, or “short”
  • Tells the user what to do
Good tone of voice UX. Signup screen example.

Screenshot taken from a user signup screen.

Go’s and No Go’s (Boundaries)

Users will have the ability to define what form of support they desire; advice, validation,
perspective, concrete help, sharing experiences. The choices that the user makes will become their “Go”
option for help. The choices that the user does not choose will automatically become their “No Go” options. Users have the ability to change these “Go’s and No Go’s” every time they make a new request. These will be displayed within each post.

Establshing Go's and No Go's picture

Matching users together

  1. During signup, users will select experiences they would like to discuss with other users
  2. Users will also choose experiences they have encountered in the past

Using these lists during signup we will be able to match users with each other based on the items they select.

What does “Bodhi” mean? 🤔

Bodhi is a Buddhist term that roughly means awakening or enlightenment through knowledge and wisdom. “Sometimes the term is understood to refer to the manifold process of awakening by which one comes variously and eventually to know the truth of things ‘as they truly are’ thereby enabling liberation from suffering and rebirth for both self and others.” Source.

Sketches 

Low Fidelity Prototype

How did users react to it? 🤩

User Testing Results

Overall, users had a positive reaction to the prototype. Besides not being able to use it like a fully developed app, they thought it would be helpful and could see themselves using it as well. But I did receive some very critical feedback that I then quickly iterated on. 

Problem #1

Users were unsure of what the concrete help, validation and perspective options mean.

Solution

Added in descriptions for each option and changed question-wording.

Problem #2

Users want to see more general feelings and categories like “Stress” during onboarding.

Solution

Added in more general topics and increased the number of choices.

Problem #3

Users wanted to know more about the experiences so they could have some talking points.

Solution

Added in the option to add a description to the experiences you are encountering. This way someone looking at your profile has more context to your situation. This is an optional setting that we would encourage with onboarding.

Final Design

Video walkthrough

Results & Reflections

“I like being able to see other people that are going through similar situations. It’s nice, it makes it easier.”

– Angel, User Tester

While I was able to create an environment for users to connect with each other and feel supported, I didn’t do it in my projected time frame. I ended up spending a total of 2.5 weeks on this project, mainly because I was juggling multiple projects and was doing this in my spare time. 

So I’m setting up better expectations for my time next time around.

I’m proud of the product I was able to create and I think it was a successful venture in trying to make my UX design process more efficient. I think I could use some improvement in UI design and now have a better idea of how to set up a design system at the start of a project. I also found that creating a comfortable environment for users requires more attention to the small details and a reduction in confusion. Adding more descriptive information in areas that can be confusing or new to users (like choosing how they’d like to be helped – validation, perspective, etc) helps to make a positive experience for them.

If I were to continue with this project, I would work on improving the visual design and focus more attention on the user onboarding experience.

Prototype Link

(Link opens a new window)

Download case study as PDF

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