PLANS is a mobile application for people who need companions to go to places and events. It possibly helps to find potential friends around the area and make them experience the place more with new people.
This case study started from my personal experience. When I first came to New York City, I knew no one. I didn't mind being alone most of the time, but sometimes I felt shy to go to places only by myself. There were so many places I wanted to go in NYC such as famous restaurants, rooftop bars, or amazing concerts but I had no one to go with. Also, I didn't want to use dating app just to hang out and felt it was too much. I was not that desperately lonely but wasn't brave enough. This is a story of how I seek ways to overcome this problem.
This is a personal UX design project.
QUESTION & RESEARCH
Is there any better way to go to places without feeling awkward when you have no friends?
I thought there are three answers to this question. One is to be braver and doesn't be shy being alone. Second, only go to places that make you feel comfortable. Lastly, find another person who feels like me and accompanies. I decided to focus on the last answer in this project and see what is possible.
I conducted deep user interviews and researched other apps that help users to find and meet up with others.(I excluded all dating apps in this research.)
Pros: This app is very goal-oriented, so the people know why they are meeting up for. This "goal" makes them participate more and less awkward. The Meetups could be sort by categories and time, and users also can bring guests.
Cons: Most of the Meetups are in big groups, and some of them feel like a club activity. Also, I thought it lacks human communication in the process since I only had to tap on "Join" button to join. It seemed accessible to anyone, but at the same time, I couldn't trust enough.
Pros: Users can see nearby people and their "Lives." I think finding friends by their interest is one of the app's strengths. There are diverse tags for interests such as "outdoorsy," "bookworm" or "sports fan." The app separates "Chat" and "Discuss."
Cons: I didn't know this app is a dating app until I used it. Lots of users use this app to find their dates. As many other dating apps do, the users will choose friends to meet by their photos. Also, I wondered if "Popularity" a necessary option.
Pros: This app finds people to travel together. Before finding others you have to fill out some basic information about yourself - alcohol(positive, negative), smoking, and relationship status are some factors that matter. It has block and report function.
Cons: Finding people by their profiles and photos might lead to another dating app. Writing all the information about one's trip plans is too much and updating it is a burden.
These are some meaningful insights I found out through the research.
- Many people living in big cities feel lonely even though they are surrounded by millions of people.
- A lot of people in big cities weren't initially from that city - they are tourists, students, immigrants, moved because of work, or finding new opportunities out of their hometown.
- People want to go to many places in the city, but at the same time, they do not want pressure from all kinds of relationships.
- Lots of existing friend-finding app focuses on photos and profiles.
25 years old, working as a freelance writer, born and raised in New York. She knows pretty well about the city. She is a big fan of jazz music and loves to go jazz bar to listen to live performances.
NEEDS: She wants to go to lots of jazz bars in the city and share the experience with others. She needs someone to talk about the music.
PAIN POINTS: She doesn’t have any friends who like jazz as she does. She is afraid to go to bars alone because she thinks other might see her so desperate.
28 years old Nathan just moved to NYC two weeks ago because he got a new job as a data analyst in the city. He knows nobody here, and it is his first time in the city. He loves food and very excited to go all the restaurants in New York.
NEEDS: He likes trying new food and restaurants. He usually orders many different kinds of dishes and shares with all. He needs someone to go to restaurants together so that he can order multiple menus.
PAIN POINTS: He wants to go to local restaurants but doesn’t know which ones are good. He doesn’t have any friends in the city yet but too busy to join a club that has regular meetings.
He is a 31-year-old web designer from Sydney, and he is visiting New York City for the first time during his vacation. It was so hard to arrange the trip schedule with his friend so, he came to New York by himself.
NEEDS: He wants to take a picture of himself with famous landmarks without using selfie sticks. He wants to talk what he felt while looking around the city.
PAIN POINTS: He can’t take good photos of him with a selfie stick. He feels lonely, especially in the bars and restaurants.
After thorough research and brainstorming, I came up with this idea of finding one-time-companions based on their plans so that they can join each other and go to places. They can either find others’ plans or post their own. By doing this, they will be able to experience the city without being awkward or shy to be alone.
It will browse all PLANS sorted by location, category, date and also users can search keywords to find matching plans. They also can bookmark PLANS by toggle star icons.
Create a PLAN
To create your own PLAN, tab on the create button to get into this page. Type in some basic information and choose a category to find people quickly.
If you like one specific PLAN, reach out to the host by messaging. You will get to know each other before hanging out and make specific plans here. This allows users to feel more safe and human, because they will actually talk to a human not just RSVP by clicking a button.
Description, User profile
PLAN's description page includes location, date/time, numbers of people and other notes. User’s profile page You can find out their basic information here like location, gender, occupation, and interests.