Flushing out the ideas behind a mobile chat app
DriftChat aims to be a chat platform that encourages looking at conversations in a whole new way: by sharing them, and by organizing topic threads.
They needed to flush out the flow of the interactions of the MVP, and brought me on to help.
- Myself, 1 UX Designer
- 1 PM
- 1 Business Analyst
- 1 Front-end engineer
- 1 Back-end engineer
Understanding the lay of the land
I scheduled 1 on 1’s with each team member to understand development thus far, and realized there were multiple workflows happening:
- PM’s were working on a business plan to understand the opportunity within the chat space
- One (back-end) engineer was figuring out how to make the app function according to the old prototype, but were blocked on certain interactions
- The other (front-end) engineer was building a desktop version of the chat app to explore a tangential idea
The initial prototype was more a hurried compilation of ideas from the founders; though it captured the overarching ideas behind the app, the interactions were jumpy and had some missing components. Everyone on the team agreed that the entire prototype could be more flushed-out, which is what I set out to do.
Establishing process and information architecture
Next I compared the information architecture of our app to others' to see how "saving messages" had been tackled before. This led me to realize that we hadn't built a Settings page, which became one of the first things I tackled.
Additionally, I began taking weekly minutes to instate a regular cadence of documentation, with the goal of clearly connecting each member’s work to furthering shared goals.
I introduced a Settings page, with the goal of minimizing the number of clicks a user needed to take in order to accomplish a goal (i.e., turn off notifications).
I also defined the experience of editing group members after a group had been created, and added the ability for notifications on a per-group basis.
Navigating your way around
The navigation model for switching between Drifts (threads of conversations within a group chat) was confusing, so I worked with another designer to tuck the options away until you need them. We also introduced an easy way to switch between the main conversation and drifts, by utilizing an empty space.
Creating and accessing Bits
One of DriftChat’s features was to take “snapshots” of conversations and save them as a “Bit.” I introduced a new way to capture bits and store them. By making the Bits library super-accessible, we encourage users to use them often.
View these interactions in the prototype below
After completing the prototype, I conducted user testing with a few coworkers. My research found that while the idea was interesting, there were more complex implications towards sharing conversations (What if I don’t want others to share my private chats?). Our team additionally decided to focus on releasing features in waves, and tabled Bits for a later time.
I left the project in the fall of 2016 to focus on other pursuits. Working with the DriftChat team was a great experience in remote collaboration. I look back on my time fondly, and am grateful for the opportunity to stretch my design thinking! ✨
Tina has made an immediate impact on our team. In a short period of time she’s learned our design tooling and processes, championed new iconography, prototyped our user profile story, and inspired a whole new user story that will become an integral part of the Driftchat experience. Tina is also a wonderful communicator. Whether explaining ideas verbally or with a pretty notebook illustration, she’s able to accommodate both our visual and auditory team members with rich context and vivid visibility into her thinking during our weekly meetings. I’m looking forward to watching her grow in our industry at breakneck speed.
- Adam, Web Designer and Developer for DriftChat