Mobile chat application created for families; pairing five interactive features, alongside standard messaging functionality.
May 2021 — 2022🧑🎨 Role:
PM, Lead Designer🏫 Type:
"FamilyChat" being awarded "Best in Show", during UCF's Spring 2022 Senior Design Showcase Event.
What are popular Messaging Apps missing? 💬
Existing apps like WhatsApp and iOS Messages are primary options for most families, when deciding where to talk with one another. However, they lack:
- The ability to organize conversations by "Topics".
- → Users are left to create redundant group subsets.
- Native Features for Decision Making.
- → 3rd party providers fill this void, but each have varying UX.
- Families as the Primary Target Audience.
- → Most apps that target families focus on safety for kids, rather than orienting their designs around better family decision-making.
Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner!🥇
Solving these challenges led to the creation of "FamilyChat"; a free-to-use iOS mobile app. This app improves family decision-making, by pairing standard messaging functionality with thoughtfully selected features like:📌 Pinned Messages, ⚠️ Alerts, 🗳️ Polls, 🎫 Events, 📸 Images.
- Qualitative feedback from three user trials, showed a majority of positive responses regarding the app; "familiar", "clean", & "useful".
- Quantitative feedback showed that ~28% of users, reduced their overall count of group chats; compared to existing messaging app alternatives. These users agreed that this reduction could lead to better decision-making within the groups that they are currently a part of.
Comparison of how group chats in iOS Messages (left) are simplified in FamilyChat (right).
Family Focused 📲
Researching popular messaging applications was the first step for this project, because it would help to form a more informed position on:
- who is targeted by these applications,
- how Visual Design is used to target their audience,
- and what overlapping Design Patterns are shared between the apps.
Compared to the more succinct age groups targeted by popular messaging applications like Snapchat for younger users, FamilyChat is geared toward families as a whole. So to encompass the varying generations within a typical family, we set our target audience to 16-76 year olds.
Guided by NN/g 🗣️
Looking at our target audience of "16-76", we further split these users into three smaller groups; younger (16-35), middle-aged (36-55), older (56-76). Our goal with this, was to focus on interviewing each of these groups at different times during the project's lifespan.
Following the findings from our Competitive Analysis...
We interviewed four older users about popular messaging applications, using questions constructed from multiple NN/g articles.
Findings from the Older user group Interviews.
Analysis of Research
Insights Found 🔍
The entire FamilyChat team sat down to discuss our findings from the Competitive Analysis and User Interviews. There were many overlapping design constructs and feature ideas found, but we distilled all of the data into three major insights:
Topical OrganizationUsers enjoy the ease of quick chattting with their family, but would enjoy the ability for deeper organization of groups.
Native FeaturesUsers want a variety in native features to help with decision making, event planning, and saving important notes.
Target AudienceUsers enjoy the familiarity of existing messaging apps, but feel that they themselves aren't the main target audience.
Early Designs ✍️
After starting with rough sketches (in Procreate for the iPad), we then created Low-Fidelity Prototypes using components we identified as being shared between popular messaging apps; like rounded corners, leading icons, and simple text. One major design decision, for the User Authentication journey, was removing account passwords; to help older users who have trouble remembering their credentials.
First sketches of the FamilyChat mobile app, in iPad Procreate.
Low-Fidelity Figma Prototypes of the FamilyChat mobile app.
Bringing things to life 🎨
Mood Board → Color
Curating a mood board from family-friendly images, mobile apps, color swatches, and soft pastels allowed for a clear design direction of what the color pallete should be.
Using a mood board (left) to create color swatches (middle) for the branding (right).
High Fidelity Prototyping
Finalizing the Design ⛳
With plans to also showcase our application to a group of "younger" users, it was important to have the app's design/branding be on point. Considering that our application was poised as a competitor to popular communication apps like iOS Messages, Discord, and Snapchat; it was very important to have a well polished interface for our younger users.
Figma screens from the High-Fidelity Prototype for FamilyChat.
STEM Day Event
But, do the kids approve of it? 🧒
The university (UCF) held an all day event (STEM Day) for middle-school and high-school students, to come view STEM-related Senior Design projects. Luckily, this allowed my group to test our application with younger users, get input, and practice our "sales pitch".
- Qualitative feedback from these younger users, showed genuine understanding of the application's purpose and messaging functionality.
FamilyChat's testing & demonstration booth, during the STEM Day Event.
The Final Polish 👨👩👧👦
Following the feedback from the younger user group, changes were made:
- friendlier avatar images,
- rounded avatar icons (similar to popular apps),
- and a further simplified authentication process.
Matching custom icons for Topics (left) and Avatars (right).
SD Showcase Event
"And the award goes to..." 👏
Near the end of the semester, my SD group had recieved an invitation to join UCF's Senior Design Showcase Event. This was truly an honor, because only 6 out of ~52 teams (from each STEM discipline) are offered to participate. For additional context, there were a total of 188 involved teams for the entire graduating class of Spring '22.
We made History!
FamilyChat was the first CS team & the first Student Sponsored project to ever win "Best in Show" since the event's inception. 👀
Video snippet of the event's award ceremony, announcing FamilyChat as Best in Show.
Closing Notes 💬
- FamilyChat is a free iOS mobile messaging application helping encourage better decision making between families.
- → GitHub
- I acted as Project Manager, Lead Designer, and half of the final Mobile Development team.
- This project allowed me to learn and practice User Focused Design & Mobile Development.
- (Ask me about: future updates & Discord events)
- We won "Best in Show" out of all of the Spring '22 SD projects for my graduating class.
Brief demo of the app.