MOBILE DATING APP
To create this conceptual product, I looked to a problem I have been eager to solve. When dating as an LGBTQ+ person, I struggle to meet other gay people in-real life. I could be out at a bar or concert and always wonder, "Who here is also gay?" Since not everyone is openly out or identifiable as gay, determining a stranger's sexuality in-person can be difficult.
About 37% of gay people are utilizing dating apps, where users clearly state their sexual orientation, gender, and dating preferences. However, online dating has its flaws and queer people still hope to make more genuine connections through meeting someone in-person.
By creating a check-in dating app for queer people, users can find other potential partners in public spaces. The app aims to connect LGBTQ+ users by enhancing the ability to see gay identities while at a location.
Since there are safety concerns, the app has built-in verification features and the option to keep your photos hidden prior to meeting. The goal is to bridge the gap between creating a safe online community within the app and helping users make genuine connections in real life.
MARKET RESEARCH + COMPETITIVE ANALYSIS
When doing market research on online dating, I found that there's a market for queer users. According to Pew Research Center, among LGB people who are now single and looking for a relationship or dates, 37% are currently online dating (vs. 24% of straight people who are single and looking).
With the current apps in existence, there has been some success in finding a partner. Among LGB adults who are married, living with a partner, or in a committed relationship, 28% say they met their current partner online, compared with 11% of partnered straight adults.
In looking for ways that Gaydar could differentiate itself, I realized that the ability to see other users at a specific location does not exist. I decided to explore this further.
I set-up remote interviews with five LGBTQ+ identifying participants about their experiences with dating and using online dating apps. My goal was to identify their pain points when dating and evaluate if being able to find other queer people in-person would benefit them. Link to full research plan here.
Using Miro, I organized my findings into an empathy map. I looked at reoccurring themes to define my key takeaways that would drive my app design.
The key insight for this persona is that she's willing to physically go to places where she is expecting to meet other gay people. She wants to be noticed and find others in the community.
USER JOURNEY MAP
For the journey map, I wanted to visualize how using Gaydar could be used in real life context for the user. This helped me uncover some problems that could occur and opportunities for features to be built within the app for a smoother experience.
Users could be disappointed if they're unable to find others at a location
Add the ability to browse other users when there are poor results at a location
Provide an option to invite other users to their location
Allow users to verify the people they have met from the app
Promoting LGBT+ locations could be a great marketing partnership
SKETCHES & WIRE FLOWS
With the architecture of the app planned out, I started by sketching the key screens. The sketches were based on a combination of patterns that I observed from other dating apps and new ideas I came up with. On Figma, I designed the wireframes and created a flow map of the key tasks that I outlined earlier. At this point, I realized that revealing photos was an additional task and combined it with messaging a user at a location.
One of my biggest challenges was figuring out how to make the user flow feel natural. Revealing photos and verifying other users are not found in any dating app currently, so I did not have any patterns to go by. I needed to find places to put these Call To Action buttons (CTAs) where it would be obvious while using the app, but not be disruptive.
Over Zoom, I conducted user testing with three LGBTQ+ identifying participants to try the Figma prototype of Gaydar. The design was mid-fidelity and allowed users to click through to perform specific tasks. Link to full usability testing plan here.
"It is designed for you to meet people and maybe date, but the whole advantage of it is seeing 'who's gay here?' Just going somewhere and knowing there are other people like you; I think it's really good so far."
- Angelica, 27, lesbian female
"I love the concept. If you're visiting a city, this is a great way to find friends to hang out with. Especially since this is for the LGBT community, it makes you feel more included."
- Sergio, 28, gay male
BRANDING & UI DESIGN
One of my qualms with existing gay apps is that they can be specifically for one queer sexuality. When deciding on colors for this brand, I decided to use the full rainbow in the logo to represent inclusion for all. The primary color (bright purple) is also considered more gender-neutral. I chose a font that was clean and would provide a nice symmetrical "G" for the logo.
My biggest issue was finding complementary colors for the purple and not overusing the rainbow's primary colors throughout the app. I decided on sticking with a lighter shade of purple in areas that needed more readability, such as messages. I used the gradient sparringly as strokes for certain components.
As I finalized the visual design and flow for the app, I checked that I accomplished my original "How might we?" questions. You can view the interactions and test the user flow in the prototype. Link to final prototype.
I used this project as an opportunity to improve my prototyping skills. I figured out how to make scrollable maps, imitate how it would work to click through a user's photos, drop-down menus, overlay questions and swiping through profiles.
My biggest takeaway from this project was to be iterative with user flows. I tried to accomplish a lot of tasks within this app, (some that's never been done before) and my first versions were confusing to even me as the designer. I would want to observe real-world use to see how comfortable people are with these new features.
The most challenging part of developing this app is deciding on trade-offs for safety features. It would be more functional if we didn't have to blur user photos when trying to see who else is at a location, but the safety concerns are more important than giving ultimate visibility.
Location-based apps also require a lot of legal terms and conditions written to protect the company and the users. I would have to look into what constraints would be necessary for the location features. Unfortunately, this app would not be available in certain countries that prohibit homosexuality or can be a danger to LGBTQ+ individuals.
If I were to continue to develop this design, I would want to create and test onboarding screens. Since the user flow is new, I would want to create more visual instructions of the key functions of the app to help new users upon launch.
Another thing I would want to build on is how the app can recommend and showcase LGBTQ+ friendly places or events. I believe that the use of the app can bring business to local establishments and it can work for restaurants, bars, or stores. Profit can be made by advertising these locations or events such as Pride. It would differentiate itself from other dating apps if Gaydar would not charge users for premium features within the app.