In a world where we are always surrounded with people, we know we can always count on our friends and family to support us in any situation. Unfortunately, there is also times where we are alone, by choice or not. From going back home late at night after a birthday party, to a solo hiking to enjoy the calm of the mountain ; sometimes we could feel more comfortable knowing that someone is looking after us. To answer this need I have worked on the design of a new app aiming to maintain this invisible link between any user feeling vulnerable and their friends and relatives.
Please note that this is a fictional project created to practice UX design as part of Design Lab.
Design an app allowing users to share data with friends and family to improve their everyday personal safety.
what i did ?
4 weeks (80h)
In order to understand how this product should be designed, I started by interviewing users. It allows me to gather meaningful data on their habits and needs in terms of personal safety. It also allows me to understand what current solution they use to fulfill this mission. I could also gather interesting information regarding their concerns of using such safety app.
Almost all participants who responded to the interview invitation were young women. If it’s not a surprise that women are the most important part of the population feeling unsafe on a daily basis, I was surprised to hear from their stories, and following additional research, that it was much more important than what I thought initially. Today, every woman in the world already experienced an event where they felt substantially unsafe and vulnerable. In order to address this issue, they will almost always emphasized communication with friends and family by sharing their location, itinerary and keep their phone ready to use. Current frustration in this process is related to the multiple steps it requires along with the lack of friends and family responsiveness. Another interesting point was that some interviewed would often minimize danger by not wanting to bother their friends and family.
After gathering these data, I could analyze the current offer on different app stores: some apps aiming to answer these concerns are already available on the market but are often limited to specific devices or specific areas. After reading users review on each App Store and Google Play Store I could also highlight cons of using these apps: the main one being a certain lack of reliability and serious concerns regarding personal data collection. Finally, I could understand from users interview that they will mostly use apps or services that aren’t focus on that matters to fulfill this mission (such as Google Map, Find My…).
In order to understand more about human behavior when facing a direct threat and how this app could address this issue, I have proceeded to additional research including a discussion with a behaviorist psychologist from a French university that helped me to understand how stress affects human memory and information processing.
These highlights allow me to understand more about users habits, and needs but also concerns of using such personal safety app. It also helps me to understand how design should be addressed to allow users under stress to use this app efficiently.
From these research I could work on building a user persona in order to help me to have a better vision of whom this app’ users are.
Who am I designing for ?
What does she need ?
In order to understand Carole's needs, I have drawn up her journey on how she currently addresses her personal safety needs in a specific situation (meeting her friends in town). This leads me to highlight product opportunities to work on.
What is the solution ?
From research to user persona and after analyzing user journey and product opportunities, I have decided to design an app for women feeling vulnerable to improve their everyday safety by creating Safe Circles where they could invite friends and family to join and always be in control of what they share and with whom such as:
Real-time location tracking.
Location notification (when arriving or leaving a location).
Journey sharing with automatic check-in prompt when user is off-track.
Quickly find close safe and crowded places around.
Emergency trigger to access immediate help.
Quickly make fake call to be sure that someone always answer.
Widget to allow a quick access to some emergency features.
Users Flows & Sitemap
Now that I have a clear vision of what this product should offer to users, it was time to dig more in detail on how to translate these data into workable design patterns.
I first decided to analyze which path users would take while using the product. It allows me to define how information architecture should be addressed to focus on the efficient way to perform each task.
We already know from research that user needs an efficient way to get help under a high level of stress. With this prerequisite in mind, I have drawn up a stiemap allowing to have a clear vision on how information architecture should be addressed.
Low & Mid Fidelity Wireframes & Testing
After some sketches allowing me to have a better visual on the direction I am taking, I have studied OS guidelines to design an app following OS standards.
The reason why I have decided to design an app sticking to stock apps design patterns is to flatten users learning curve allowing an efficient and quick adaptability under a stressful event.
In order to be sure that I was going in the proper direction and that this product could efficiently address users needs, I have decided to perform quick usability testing sessions with potential users. It helps me to correct frustration and confusion.
App name and icon
The app icon is an essential element of any app development project. It also plays an important role in terms of UX. Indeed, with today’s phone home screens displaying icons all the same size and shape (by default), the icons must spread the brand identity but also and most importantly, it has to help the user to find the app easily and reduce any effort on his side. This is why I have decided to go for a very minimalistic and simple icon.
Safe Circles = Sircle
A colour selection to support a quick understanding and response.
Colours have been selected to allow users to quickly spot emergency triggers, all highlighted in red. The use of blue emphasise safety and trust while allowing users to easily identify interactions.
An UI Design allowing users to quickly and efficiently access emergency triggers.
Create Safe Circles with friends and family, choose what information to share with them. Circles can be permanent or temporary.
Access any circle to see members on the map. After selecting a member, users can request a check-in: a smart and stressless way to require a circle member to update its status and check that everything's fine.
With a direct access through the home screen, users can trigger quick safety action to avoid an uncertain situation or directly reach for help.
As we saw that communication with friends and family was the number one process to improve interviewed's personal safety, Sircle allows to create and share a journey with one or multiple circles. Users stay in control of what will be shared with circles' members.
In order to improve users safety while in an unknown place, Sircle offer a quick access to "Around Me", allowing users to quickly see places around them where they could find refuge or just be in a crowded environment.
In order to face an uncomfortable situation, users would be able to trigger a Fake Call from different places within the app.
This Fake Call would automatically start the recording from both front and back cameras along with microphone. Recordings would be directly uploaded to user Sircle account.
When triggering a fake call, an automatic voice would talk to users, inviting them to have a Fake Discussion, to improve realism and efficiency.
Finally, users will be able to define a safe word to trigger an automatic call to 911.
Sircle include a night mode and is available on a variety of devices.
Sircle include a guide to help user to set up the app when lunching it for the first time.
Sircle also empower widgets to help user to access the most important features of the app in one touch.
An important part in the product development is to verify if the solution designed responds to the problem defined earlier. For this matter I have built two prototypes that I have tested both face to face with users, and online (using Maze).
Because Sircle also need to be efficient in certain situation, including a high level of stress due to an external event, I also did some role play testing. I asked users to perform some tasks (access emergency triggers) with a very short time limit in order to simulate a stressful situation.
All users completed the testing process without extreme difficulties. If they all agreed that the UI was easy to navigate and to perform under a certain level of stress, they also highlighted some frustrations and confusions reducing the effectiveness of this solutions.
Modify some labels and icon to improve overall readability and efficiency.
Improve information architecture along with consistency.
Improve labels to avoid confusions.
Add additional sorting options for circles members.
Add more information about circles members.
Improve route selection process with additional information allowing users to make the best choice.
Add a incoming call process for the fake call, with loud ringtone.
Add support for third part services in order to allow users to directly import their trip from Uber, Google Map... and share additional information such as Tinder dates...
Add support for connected watches including biometrics monitoring allowing for an automatic trigger in case of sudden stress level following by a journey change. These devices could also help to automatically contact emergency in case of car accident.
This project was fascinating for multiple reasons. First research was a very special task here, as this subject can be quite sensitive for some users, much more than I actually expected, but also because the goal of this product has a direct impact on people life. How to help users while making them understand that this project is "just" a tool to feel safer rather than a real, accurate, life jacket was pretty challenging. Finally, it was very interesting to work on this project regarding the privacy aspect of it. How to make users trust the product enough to allow the use of real-time location data without being too much invasive. For all these aspects this project was as challenging as passionating. If this app would be released it would require the UX team to constantly evaluate the efficiency/privacy balance by listening to users.