Social activities sit at the heart of human happiness and satisfaction. But in an increasingly digital world and with external factors such as the Covid-19 pandemic exacerbating the increasing sense of loneliness being sensed by broad swathes of the population, the desire for an online platform that decreases the friction for new human relationships has never been greater.
A study conducted by Harvard in February 2021 done on 950 survey participants conveys that “36% of all Americans including 61% of young adults and 51% of mothers with young children feel serious loneliness” with many of these percentages being drastically increased as a result of the response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The fact is that deep human connection created through shared real life experiences trumps the happiness that is simulated by the quick dopamine hits you get from going viral on a social platform and interacting with usernames and profile pictures.
Another overlap in the demographic of people needing more social connection are individuals who relocated to different parts of the country. A migration report by NorthAmerica stated that there was an overall increase by 20% of people that relocated to different parts of the US. Many of them move to cities where they have no prior experience or connection with.
Using a combination of Google Forms + Live interviews to survey our immediate network, we found that participants in both settings preferred to bond with potential friends over common interests and passions ranging from seeing certain musical artists or going to a specific type of networking conference (92% of responses).
We found during live interviews that participants prefer to know a couple of key pieces of information before meeting with someone they previously don’t know such as age, gender, cultural background, and links to social media in order to establish a baseline level of trust and validity to an online profile. Another key insight we learned was that participants typically wouldn’t want to engage in conversation about a certain event unless prompted with a certain intention in mind.
One important point of feedback we got through the surveys was that people enjoy going out for events in optimally small groups of people of 2-4 (81%). This led us to prioritise a messaging format where multiple participants can converse with each other and naturally form groups on our platform instead of a 1v1 chat feature.
Another key point of feedback was the thought process in which participants decide to use traditional online platforms to register for events. In order to make the user flow as simple as possible we took existing onboarding experiences in event registration platforms such as Meetup and Eventbrite and integrated the needed parts into our own platform so that the user is somewhat familiar with our own onboarding experience on a first visit context.
Taking into account the technical expertise areas of the dev team, the time frame allotted to us to create the initial MVP, and the existing competitive landscape for the problem space we are tackling, we as a team settled on a web-app solution where users can browse hosted events and join conversations centred around the theme of meeting like-minded people with the end goal of meeting them in real life to enjoy the event together.
For our MVP we prioritised 3 key features that would be must-haves for any solution tackling our chosen problem space:
We identified these features through user interviews and research as being the most important for our MVP through the findings of our user interviews + surveys.
After we showcased our prototype to the users again, we learned that:
Getting resources for pulling events and integrating into our designs.
No scaling issues. Other than the limitations owing to the free hosting.
We will be continuing this project with a much more simpler schedule to keep it casual. Mostly to work out bugs and issues that we were not able to fully have function by the end of Co.Lab. We want to extend this to create and iterate on our MVP.
1. During my experiences with Co.Lab, my biggest learning so far was learning to narrow the scope and cutting through the noise that inevitably devolves into wasteful use of precious meeting times during conversations between team members. As the PM I learned over the weeks to be more comfortable with saying no or yes to a feature and being more comfortable with convincing people why due to my personal responsibility to the problem space.
2. The class I found most insightful was close to the beginning when one of them mentioned the importance of creating psychological security around the team and encouraging all members to engage without fear of being ridiculed. This approach gave immediate dividends in realised productivity gains on our own team during COLAB8.
1. I learned the importance of finding different ways to communicate research insights and design ideas to communicate effectively. This allowed me to improve in my adaptability and resourcefulness so that I could get my ideas across clearly to my team members.
2. I also learned that time and the ability to make the best use of it is crucial with regards to feature prioritisation. I learned to be realistic with what can be accomplished within a given time frame and how to prioritize my design decisions based on that.
3. I learned that building components early, preferably in the low fidelity stage helps make developer hand offs easier in the long run. If I build the components earlier on, I won’t need to worry as much as I’m implementing the finishing touches during the high fidelity and prototyping phases, which is important when dealing with shorter time frames.
1. I learned the process it takes to determine what kind of products to build and the importance of results derived from user responses during the research.
2. I learned more about the agile methodology. The building of our product in components and incrementally. The setting of timelines and goals to achieve during the period ensured we were able to track our progress.
I enjoyed my collaborative journey along with my PM, Designer and my fellow Dev. The past 3 weeks were hard, in terms of personal life along with Co.Lab, but I got the help I needed from the team and learnt how to get things done in a balanced way.
The biggest overall team learning was learning to be accommodating for the external situations of other team members given the widely different time zones among other factors that prevented members from participating in a given week. We have all learned to be empathetic towards to each other and made our best effort to assist each other whenever one of the team members were not able to participate in a given week due to factors out of their control