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Circle

CASE STUDY

Circle is an IOS application that aims to make networking more fun and efficient for women. Circle is designed to help women "fast forward" their careers through networking by connecting people based on common interests and location.

This capstone project was developed during my UX Design Diploma Bootcamp at BrainStation.

Role

UX Researcher, UX Designer, UI Designer

Project Length 
                          

 

10 Weeks

Tools Used    

Figma, FigJam, InVision, Rotato

Mobile, IOS

Platform                      
 

Problem & Context

Women's lack of valuable networks has been cited as one of the primary causes of the gender gap at work.

 

Networking is a potential support and barrier for women who were excluded from work-related activities and mentorship opportunities. Despite significant progress toward equitable representation of women in the workforce, women continue to face constraints in accessing C-suite, executive, and senior management positions.

Secondary Research

According to an investigation from Forbes, women’s networks are simply less powerful than men’s, and women are less able to utilize the networks they do have....but why? Women's networks often pale in comparison to men's, because:

  • They were constrained by self-doubt and by limited faith in their own abilities to make valuable contributions to their networks

  • They suffer from lack of confidence regarding their network contribution

  • They feel uncomfortable with the exploitative nature of networking.

To learn more about the problem space, I began to wonder if there is a difference between the networks of successful male and female leaders. New research suggests there is. The Harvard Business Review says:

  • Men benefit not so much from size of network but from being central in the network—or connected to people who have a lot of contacts across different groups. 

  • Women benefited from being central in the network too, but they also had to have an inner circle of close female contacts. 

Primary Research

CONDUCTING USER INTERVIEWS

To better understand my users' goals and frustrations, I conducted in-person interviews with four participants and asked them a series of questions about their networking experience. This helped me to generate data on their behaviours, motivations, and pain points in their current experience around networking. The following are some Insights I have found from my interview with those participants.

I interviewed four individuals between the ages of 23 to 35 who do not identify as cis-male and have a university degree and work experience. 

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Key Themes and Insights

After completing all 4 interviews, I then synthesized my findings into 3 key themes and insights:

Theme 1: Confidence and Barriers 
Theme 2: Common Interests

Women suffer from lack of confidence regarding their network contribution. 

People prefer networking with others who are similar to themselves. 

Theme 3: Gender Differences

Men and women need different kinds of networks to succeed.

Challenge

How might we help women professionals connect with other professionals so that they can establish valuable long-term relationships?

The Persona

In order to keep the users' needs front and center, I used a user-centered design approach to create a persona and an experience map. Throughout my design process, I frequently refer back to the persona and to remind myself of the user's goal and frustration, which guides my design choices.

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Mapping the Experience

Creating a realistic persona allowed me to empathize with the needs of my users. I explored Christie's experience relocating to a new city and finding the right connections for her career. 

When I began developing the digital solution, I focused on the stage where she was most frustrated:finding career support and maintaining valuable connections with other professionals.

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The Task Flow

PICKING A SOLUTION

Following the creation of a persona and experience map, I began drafting possible user stories. Thinking with Christie's goals in mind, I focused on actions that could help her find more connections in a new environment. I selected the core epic, Attending Events, with six possible user stories could be a part of the same task flow.

Core Epic

Attend an event

Chosen User Story

Attend a networking event to meet new people and build valuable professional relationships.

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Sketching

After designing the task flow, I started looking for ideas from other apps with similar features.  Based on my UI Inspiration board, I started developing sketches of all the possible variations my screens could look like. This initially appeared as basic, bare-bones sketches into a more solution-oriented decision. 

 

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Mid-Fidelity Wireframes

To help test the initial concept, I selected the designs that best fit the user’s needs and created mid-fidelity wireframes in Figma.

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User Testing

MID-FIDELITY

Over the span of 3 days, I conducted 2 rounds of usability testing. Each round consisted of 20 minute testing sessions with 5 users. Through a series of tasks and natural use of the app, the feedback gathered was used to create a final version of the mid-fi prototype.

Test Objectives

  • Discover initial impressions of specific screens

  • Understand the thought process of users during testing

  • Identify any issues with accessibility 

Test Report

The test report allowed me to organize and gather feedback from participants. I irritated solutions that would improve the usability and overall user experience. I used a prioritization matrix to redesign screens starting with issues of high impact and low effort. Click here to see the full Usability Testing Report.

Redesign

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Brand Development

BUILDING THE VISUAL IDENTITY

Mood Board

Mood Board

In this stage of the design process, I defined a set of adjectives that represent the brand. Given the consideration of the needs of Christie, the persona, the app should be a brand that connects her other professionals, a friendly and supportive community, a tool that can help her grow in her career and be inspired by others, and playful to use. With these keywords in mind, I developed a mood board to encompass the experience of Circle in visual elements.

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UI Inspiration

This imagery inspired my overall UI design because it provides a clear but also playful feel to the user interface, allowing the user to easily understand and navigate through the application. The use of soft edges with rounded corners gives the impression of being approachable.

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Style Guide

Now it was time to implement my mood board into the app’s UI design. I wanted the style guide to be minimal with primary colors that look clean together. I utilized a dark orange to emphasize the brand attributes that were established with complementary secondary colors. The fonts are mainly Hind to give a legible and clean look for the app.

After seeking inspiration, I experimented with various Sans-serif fonts for my app, including Roboto, Hind, and Helvetica. I decided to use Hind because it has flat endings that are easy to read. It's a good choice for my brand to feel more relaxed and approachable, while also modern and professional.

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High Fidelity Prototype

After many iterations, I had created my high fidelity prototype. The main goal of my design process was to keep them minimal and easy to use. While developing the hi-fi prototype, I refferred back to my style guide numerous times to ensure everything was consistent and it was important to consider accessibility of the design.  

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Future Thinking

  • I want to explore more on adding new features to the app such as adding a few steps during the onboarding process, where users can input their interests into the app, as well as a function to connect with another user. These two functions are important to the app's overall usage because they promote in-person bonding and a way for building an easier initial connection.

  • I also want to discover further about multi-platform design and experiment with new task flows for the app, such as connecting with other users and creating an event. 

Key Learnings 

  • The end-to-end process of designing a product. From researching problem space, empathizing with the user to creating a Hifi prototype that solves the user's needs.

  • Asking for feedbacks to receive points of view from others so that I can receive views I might not notice myself.

  • Use a timer to help with focusing on a certain task before moving onto the next one which increases productivity and better time management.

  • Now that I have graduated and become a new UX Design graduate I have to say this project really helped me to understand the importance of having a routine to discipline me. This way I will feel more motivated on achieving my career goals.

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