The Challenge for my team
Design and develop an app, from concept to launch, in 10 weeks.
Present our product to the company at the end of the summer.
The Challenge for me (UX Designer)
Make it easier for newcomers to make friends through the simplest and most user-friendly app possible.
Research, design, test, and prototype the app within 6 weeks.
Why this idea?
75% of adult Americans struggle with loneliness.
Research suggests that one of the loneliest periods in adult life is the mid to late 20's. Our preliminary user research found that young people feel the most lonely after moving to a new place.
We thought we might be able to help. This sparked the idea for Eat&Greet.
The User Interviews
I sent out a survey to the company to screen for people who may be interested in an app such as Eat&Greet. My goal was to find people who were open to meeting new people and enjoyed eating out at restaurants.
After screening, I found 8 potential users who were willing to chat for a 30-45 min interview. While interviewing, I asked them how, when, and why they make friends. I saught to know how they bonded with others and what factors affected their ability to create lasting relationships.
Food is a central element in many social encounters, so naturally we talked about food as well. I wanted to find out how people use food to socialize.
Key User Interview Takeaways
1.) People want to new friends and are open to meeting strangers when they are new to an area
“I don’t make new friends often, but I would definitely be more willing to meet strangers if I was in a new place.” - Kailee
2.) Meeting new people can be scary, especially if it's one-on-one.
“I'd rate meeting with a stranger one-on-one about a 3 out of 10 on the comfort scale. I would be concerned about safety and weirdness." - Elyse
3.) Small groups, common interests, and food help people feel more comfortable when making new friends.
"I’d be more comfortable meeting strangers if I knew we had similarities, like similar taste in food. It’s difficult to go in blind. . . I think a group is less intimidating." - Julia
After the interviews, I presented my findings to my team, suggesting that we keep safety and privacy as top priorities. We decided to proceed with features that allowed minimal opportunities for stalking, bullying, and harassment. This meant omitting features such as direct-messaging and limiting the amount of information on a user's profile.
This also meant encouraging users to meet in groups in a public place -- like a restaurant.
The Concept Model
How might we make a social app without the privacy concerns and stressors of social media?
The Competative Audit
After forming the basic idea for Eat&Greet, I conducted a competitive audit to learn about the strengths and weaknesses of our app's competitors.
I found that many apps with similar concepts had failed, but they had a few things in common -- they included meeting at the houses of strangers to have home-cooked meals, or relied on food being the sole interest or reason for meeting up in the first place.
Successful competitors, such as meetup, had a greater emphasis on safety and meeting in groups to make friends opposed to highly-intimate situations and settings.
The User Flow
How can we simplify this app further? What is needed for our minimum viable product?
We created around five complete sets of low-to-mid fidelity frames -- far too many to show. I was constantly designing, prototyping, usability testing, and redesigning for several weeks.
Usability testing helped reveal a few major problems in my design. For example, users needed a way to learn enough about Eat&Greet on the home page to convince them to sign up. The filter used to organize user content was deemed unnecessary, and the sign-up forum was made significantly shorter.
Ah, yes, finally. The good stuff.
Eat&Greet allows users to create and join small gatherings at restaurants near them. We decided to call these gatherings "Tables." Users can chat with others who have joined their Tables and check out their profiles before meeting them in person.
Those screenshots show a lot, but there's much more to see! View or download ALL the high-fidelity wireframes in desktop and mobile screen sizes below.
See Eat&Greet LIVE
Seriously, make an account and check it out! We posted a few example events. We won't send you emails or contact you at all. So go take a peek!