Rethinking Online Dating for Young Singles
Cupid Corgi is a dating app with unique features and a new business model designed to help young singles build meaningful connections.
UX/ UI Designer
Individual Capstone Project for BrainStation's UX Design Diploma
Design Thinking Method, ABCD Framework
Figma, FigJam, InVision, Photoshop, Qualtrics, Microsoft Excel, Otter.ai
3 Months (October-December 2022)
A Quick Summary of Cupid Corgi!
Something is Missing on Dating Apps...
Dating apps users face 3x the amount of stress compared to non-users; this number increases as users are on the app more often and for a longer period of time. Thus, I examine my hypothesis of online dating is negatively impacting young adults’ mental health.
However, after conducting primary research, I swiped left (rejected) on the original research hypothesis and dived deeper into what is missing on current dating apps.
I used the Design Thinking Methodology and the ABCD Framework (which is my approach to Human-Centered Design) to tackle this problem. Based on A (audience) of the ABCD framework, it's important that designers create user-centric solutions and not base their work on their assumptions. Throughout this project, I involved over 100 target users throughout the design process.
Please feel free to explore all the steps by clicking on the corresponding emoji!
As a designer, I need to understand my users and test my assumptions about the problem space.
After conducting secondary research, I created a primary research plan to test my initial hypothesis that online dating is negatively impacting young adults’ mental health. The participant criteria were young adults (18-30 years old) who had previous or current experience with online dating (through dating apps or websites). Due to time and resource constraints, the sample was a voluntary sample.
For qualitative data, I conducted 7 one-on-one semi-structured interviews through Zoom with participants across North America and transcribed the interviews using Otter.ai.
To collect more quantitative data, I created a survey on Qualtrics, distributed it through Slack and Instagram, and collected 27 survey responses.
The threshold I set for my initial hypothesis was at least 50% of my interviewees and survey respondents believe online dating negatively impact their mental health.
However, only 42% of interviewees and 44% survey respondents felt like online dating negatively impacted their mental health. The rest reported no impact or positive impact. In conclusion, I rejected the original research hypothesis.
Despite the rejected hypothesis, online dating is not perfect with a 5.3 out of 10 rating based on survey responses. Through analyzing the collected data using affinity mapping and Microsoft Excel, I explored 10 different themes. Here are the three main themes and insights:
Lack of Meaningful Connections
Regardless of gender, sexuality or the type of relationship people are looking for, they value meaningful connections and are frustrated by having the surface-level conversation online over and over, without meeting in-person.
Number of Options
People feel like online dating is non-committal and fast-paced due to the number of options. People, especially women, are overwhelmed with the number of options and feel stressed about keeping up multiple in-depth conversations at the same time.
People are unhappy with how dating apps match people based on physical appearance and shared that they value other things, such as values and personality. Nonetheless, physical appearance is the #2 thing people look for in potential matches.
The “Lack of Meaningful Connection” theme stood out to me as the number of sticky notes (71 in total) for this theme is 6x the average number for the other themes. In addition, I discovered...
88% of Tinder users never find a relationship on the dating app
71% of interviewees expressed their frustration with the lack of meaningful connections
Lack of meaningful connection is the top source of frustration for survey respondents
Thus, I swiped right (confirmed) on the new hypothesis of young singles find it challenging to build meaningful connections when online dating.
Given the time constraint of less than 2 weeks to complete the empathize and define stages, I used the data already collected to confirm the new hypothesis
If given more time, it's important to further test this assumption with additional primary research that focuses on meaningful connections.
As much as I want to solve all of users' problems, I need to define the key problem to solve through design.
The Design Challenge
After research, I defined the specific problem space and created the design challenge in the form of a “How Might We” Question:
How might we incentivize more meaningful interactions for young singles on dating apps so that they build more meaningful connections?
Persona: Meet Kyle
Based on the A (audience) from my ABCD framework, designers need to understand and empathize with the end-users. Therefore, I created a persona to ensure my design was driven by the target users’ motivations, frustrations, and behaviours. I made sure insights included in my persona are driven by the data collected, which aligns with the D (data) in the ABCD framework.
Kyle Lin, Cupid Corgi's Primary Persona
Based on Kyle’s experiences, I developed an experience map. This artifact allowed me to identify opportunities for design intervention.
Experience Map Based on Kyle's Experiences
This is the stage where I brainstormed a wide variety of solutions to the users' problem, which is my personal favorite stage!
Chosen Epic, User Stories, and Task
I ideated the possible tasks Kyle may want to accomplish in order to build more meaningful connections when online dating as a young single by creating 21 user stories. I grouped the user stories into 3 epics: matching, interacting with matches, and setting up a profile.
I chose to focus on the “interacting with matches” epic as this epic can best showcase my product’s main differentiators. Next, I selected 6 user stories from the chosen epic.
Task Flow Diagram
I created a task flow diagram for an overview of my solution.
In addition to the user stories and tasks, I also applied Kyle's scenario to the task flow diagram.
Scenario: Kyle has been on Hinge, Bumble, and Tinder to find a long-term romantic partner for a year now. He feels frustrated as he feels like he is having the same surface level conversation over and over. He tried to meet up with matches in person, but not many seemed interested in building that meaningful connection. He recently heard about Cupid Corgi from a friend and set up his profile.
From talking to target users, the task flow diagram was iterated multiple times.
Originally the date suggestion pop-up appeared when the chat has been active for three days (three days was suggested by a marriage therapist based on secondary research) or there are date-related keywords in the chat. After discussing with people, people take dating at a different pace with some people like the go on a date right away while other prefer texting for longer. A feature that waits for both parties to feel ready help solve this issue. In addition, date-related keyword may be difficult to implement technically and may be prone to errors.
Another concern users had was that automatic date suggestions may decrease the effort people put into dates. One idea that came up during a discussion with my friend was to come up with a simple, interactive, and fun way to plan the first date through a quiz/ game!
Task Flow Diagram
Additional Design Decisions
The Birth of Cupid, the Corgi
Although my primary research found that online dating does not negatively impact users’ mental health, people shared that online dating can be stressful and frustrating. Thus, I wanted to provide users with emotional support and guidance. I thought the best way to do so is through a cute wingman (or wingdog). Cupid also makes the overall app experience more coherent by connecting the different app features, such as telling matches why they are compatible, asking matches if they are interested in meeting privately, and helps with first date planning. There will be more detailed explanations of how Cupid can help later! As shown in the experience map. users often move their conversations off dating apps. I hope to attract users to stay through this unique feature.
A New Business Model
Some research participants felt like dating apps do not have users' best interest at heart as “basic functions are blocked by paywalls”. Coming from a business background, I understand dating apps are businesses after all, and profit is essential for a business. However, is there a better way to make money that align the app’s incentives with the users’? I worked backwards from the ultimate goal of many dating app users: having an in-person first date. Inspired by food-related start-ups at my university, whose business models are to make money while helping friends get together, I thought, “why can’t we do that for first dates?”. I expanded beyond just food and included first date activities too.
To ensure my design comply Nelson Norman Group's Usability Heuristic #2 (match between system and the real world), meaning my design is consistent with existing conventions, I drew inspiration from my UI Inspiration board when making exploratory sketches.
After talking to people, I took the best UI elements and features from my exploratory sketches to create my solution sketches.
Prototyping allows me to share my ideas and for users to experience my ideas.
From Sketches to Figma
Next, based on my solution sketches, I created grayscale wireframes and version 1 mid-fidelity prototype. To ensure consistency throughout the app, I created a style guide and components. The Corgis used within the app are from Vecteezy.com. They are free to use if I give attribution.
Please feel free to try version 1 of Cupid Corgi below! Please keep in mind this is only version 1. You can find version 4 high-fidelity prototype below after 2 rounds of usability testing, branding, and adding animations!
Testing is another chance to examine my assumptions and more specifically, my assumptions about my solution.
Usability Testing and Iterations
Before developing my app’s visual identity, I conducted two rounds of usability testing with 5 tests each (10 tests in total) to improve my design and optimize the user experience.
The testers were asked to imagine themselves as Kyle and were requested to perform a series of tasks. After each usability test, testers were asked a few additional questions to provide further feedback. Each usability test session took around 20-40 minutes.
I examine whether testers completed the tasks successfully and also analyze usability testing data by organizing all the insights (any confusion, feedback, comments) into themes. I then brainstormed solutions to enhance each theme.
Prototype improvements were prioritized using the Design Prioritization Matrix, and I prioritized changes that were low in effort to fix but would bring users the highest value. The changes were made after each round of usability testing.
Here are some key iterations that were made through usability testing:
Major Change #1: Pop-up After Initial Messages
Problem 1: 4/5 of the round 1 testers wanted the meet-up pop-up to be available from the start and not wait a few days.
Solution 1: For version 2 of the mid-fidelity prototype, the pop-up appeared after users exchange their initial messaged.
Problem 2: During my second round of testing, 2/5 of the testers felt like the pop-up was pushy.
Solution 2: For version 3, I reworded the pop-up to inform users the pop-up is available but no immediate action is needed.
Major Change #2: Permission to Call
Problem: 3 testers expressed their concerns about being called on dating apps without their permission, which is a huge violation of users' privacy and can cause them to feel unsafe.
Solution: I added an option to the original pop up to ask for users' consent to call, and the call icons are disabled until consent is given from both sides. These changes were made after round 1 of testing and validated during round 2.