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BeFriend

2021 | UI/UX Design + Brand Identity

BeFriend is an app that gives users the opportunity to create meaningful friendships through shared interests.

Problem space

Social circles typically dwindle when people hit their mid-20s, with popularity peaking around ages 21-25. In addition, 45% of Americans find it challenging to make new friends. This means that as adults begin to drift away from friends around the time that they graduate from college and enter the workforce, they are having trouble gaining new ones. Over time, there are fewer organic opportunities that allow adults to meet new friends with whom they connect on a deeper level. While dating apps are pushed heavily, there are not as many options for people who want to make genuine, platonic friendships.

Secondary research findings

During the secondary research phase of this project, I discovered that adults reported having trouble making new friends for a variety of reasons including being introverted, no longer being interested in the bar scene, and not having hobbies that make it easy to meet new people. At the same time, adults are growing apart from their established friendships due to busy schedules, moving away from each other, and merely drifting apart over time. Overall, 82% of people find that long-lasting friendships are hard to find.

The target audience is characterized by adults who are 24-32 years old, don't have kids, and are living in major U.S. cities.

Based on secondary research, the users in this age group have hit their "peak popularity," are typically done with school, and have begun working full time. I also took into consideration that parents often have different needs when it comes to their social lives– their lifestyles/values may be more family-oriented, and they may need to factor in childcare for social events. Lastly, major cities provide large, diverse pools of people with many different interests to potentially connect with. 

User interviews

Three user interviews were conducted to gain firsthand knowledge of the target audience's common behaviors, motivations, and pain points. The goal was to better understand the barriers the target audience is currently facing that may prevent them from finding new friends, and to learn more about their hobbies/interests, current social lives, and previous friendship experiences.

Interview insights

After the user interviews were conducted, I synthesized the findings into four main themes:

Connecting through shared interests

People connect with others that have similar hobbies, especially through shared experiences, organizations, and activities.

Consistency + reciprocation from others

Forming meaningful friendships take time, and people want to know that the other person is showing the same amount of effort to build the friendship.

Deeper levels of friendship

At this stage in their lives, adults are looking to make meaningful friendships with people they connect with on a deeper level, and view the number of friends they have in terms of quality over quantity.

Safety

People want to feel safe when connecting with potential new friends, especially when it comes to meeting people of the opposite gender.

Chosen theme: Connecting through shared interests

Based on key insights from the interviews, I believe that shared interests will provide an incentive for people to get out and meet in person. The shared bond of having something in common and doing those activities together will also build a foundation for more meaningful friendships.

How might we help 24-32 year olds living in major U.S. cities connect with others over shared interests and hobbies so that they can form new friendships?

User persona

In order to guide the design process, insights from the interviews were used to create a user persona that embodies the target audience.

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Experience map

Next, an experience map was created to showcase the user's current experience with the goal of pinpointing design intervention opportunities. The main focus during this exercise was the question, "How can the user's current experience be improved?"

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Competitive analysis

An analysis was performed of existing apps that allow users to find new friends, as well as indirect competitors, such as dating apps. A chart was created to compare the existing solutions and observe their pros and cons.

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Design opportunities
  • Most apps match individuals together and leave the talking/planning up to them (risk ghosting, not knowing what to talk about, where to go/what to do, etc.) or let the individual find an event and meet people there (risk being nervous to go alone, not knowing anyone there, putting themselves out there).

  • An opportunity has been discovered that allows users to explore their interests along with people that share the same passions. Users stay true to their interests while connecting with other people.

Task selection

Using the identified key opportunities and pain points, 24 user stories were authored to define the core functionality and features needed for the product. From there, stories were grouped into similar categories and a core epic was chosen to expand upon.

Core epic: Making plans with a potential friend
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Primary task flow
User stories
  • As someone looking for new friends, I want to sort through other users based on shared interests so that I can find friends that like the same things as me. ​

  • As someone looking for new friends, I want to view other users' profiles so that I can check our compatibility before I message them.

Task
  • Search for and find a friend based on specific interest.

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Secondary task flow
User stories
  • As someone looking for new friends, I want to invite another user to hang out upon viewing their profile so that we can get to know each other better in person.​

  • As someone looking for new friends, I want to choose from a selection of event suggestions when I am viewing another user's profile so that we do not have to feel pressured to find something to do when we first meet.

Task
  • Invite a potential new friend to hang out with you.

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Ideation process

After finalizing task flows, I moved on to the ideation process. UI inspiration was gathered from existing solutions and patterns, and then I began rapidly sketching ideas for possible screens with varying levels of fidelity. The sketches were then translated into low-fidelity wireframes.

Sketches
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Wireframes
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User testing: notable changes

In order to gain feedback on the usability of the product, a test session was held with 5 participants. Using a test script, participants were asked to complete the primary and secondary task flows and provide feedback.

CTA on User Profile

3 out of 5 users were unsure of the main CTA within the user profile. To fix this, a larger, more prominent button was added to signal that the user's next step should be to "Request Plans." The language of the CTA was edited from "Make Plans" to "Request Plans" to suggest that the other person needs to accept the invite, rather than the plans being set in stone.

SERP Cards

4 out of 5 users felt that the SERP screen was busy/overwhelming. I removed the "View Profile" button and arrow buttons in both the large and small profile cards in order to simplify the design and remove some of the repetitiveness. Instead, shadows behind the cards were added to imply their clickable nature. 

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Brand attributes

The visual identity was conceptualized in order to bring the product to life. The name BeFriend was chosen as a representation of two ideas: to "befriend" someone and "to be friends" with someone. To further flesh out the brand's attributes, I listed a few adjectives that I felt the brand/product should embody: 

  • Energetic

  • Outgoing

  • Creative

  • Happiness

  • Meaningful

  • Inviting

Mood board
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Typography
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Color
Logo concept

For BeFriend's logo, I was primarily interested in funky, modern, sans serif display fonts to evoke a unique and exciting ambiance for users looking to connect with their interests and form new friendships. Based on the mood board shown above, the logo was created with a retro revival style.

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High fidelity prototype
Most likely BFFS

Don’t just find a friend, find your best friend. BeFriend will find the person that has the most common interests as you. 

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