Circa

1. Overview

Product

A location-based online community for college students to connect on and off-campus. 

Role

Product designer and manager

Goal

Design a location-based community for students to connect with shared interests and find things to do nearby.

Timeline

On going project

Tools

Communication
Research + Ideation
Design
2.1 User research

We researched existing college online communities to understand students’ existing challenges and used an affinity map to identify patterns.

Making friends and being lonely was a recurring theme among students.

2.2 User interviews

We interviewed 25 people (ages 18-37) to understand their existing tools and communities and what they like and don’t like about them. Their responses were recorded in a spreadsheet and categorized by insights (e.g., like, dislike, behavior, or idea.)

Interview responses were categorized by solution, type of insights, and additional notes.

Unfiltered interview responses in spreadhsheet

 

We filtered to view only dislikes to find a recurring pattern and potential problems we could address. The recurring theme was negativity in online communities.

Interviewee quotes describing how negativity occurs in existing solutions.

Users are not friendly. There is not enough emphasis on building community.

John

People being negative. Characterized version of themselves. There are no repercussions for actions.

Jabari

Users are cruel at times.

Leandra

Users are superficial.

James

I don't feel a part of anything.

Gibeom

People are always competing with each other.

Candace

We brainstormed and posted the question online and received the following, which helped guide the solution of a customizable local social feed. 

"...if you want a way to fix the negativity, you have to actually give people a way to avoid it."

2.2 Competitor Analysis

Exploring social network interfaces allowed us to understand existing mental models (e.g., Reddit, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram).

We combined social media design patterns with iOS Design Guidelines to reduce users’ learning curves and save time on development.

3. Plan + Define

3.1 Problem Statements

1. Students struggle to make meaningful relationships when new on campus or living off-campus. Our solution should provide students with a local community feed to meet students with shared interests and to find things to do nearby.

2. Online communities prioritize popular culture content and users experience negative interactions experiences. Our solution should prioritize community building and positive experiences by giving users control over their feed. 

3.2 MVP Scope

We defined the minimum features required to build a social network and then defined use cases (user abilities) the solution would support. 

3.3 User flows

We defined all the steps users would have to go through to complete said processes and confirm designs included the required functionality to complete each task.

4. Design

4.1 Wireframes
We outlined screens needed to design by first writing down the elements required for a user to complete the task and navigate to the associated screens necessary. We then sketched designs before pixel-pushing allowed us to test faster.
4.2 Grids

We used a 5 column grid with a 16px gutter and 4 pixel grid for consistent spacing and layout.

4.3 Low fidelity designs

Circa create account wireframes

4.3 Design iterations
We used competitor analysis, experience, and iOS Human interface guidelines to refine designs in Figma.

4.4. Final Designs

Home feed

5. Test

Circa is available on the Apple App Store. The soft launch started in February 2022.