Sociability is a new UK mobile and web app for disabled people find accessible places to go out. Users can research suitable venues and add venue accessibility data. I worked with them on a project to help the app grow, through higher user engagement.
With their first full version of the app, Sociability had gained 2500+ users and added 1000s of venues. However, they wanted to grow engagement in 2022. Their users cared deeply about their mission and value, so it was suspected that the user-experience needed improvement before engagement would increase.
From feedback, they were broadly aware of a number of user issues that were impacting on the experience. For example, users found it slow and tedious to add data, or to filter searches. Also the data quality could be better, in order to be more valuable to them.
So it needed some work to be done around these issues, to explore potential ways of solving or improving them. The outcome would hopefully be increased app use and activity (venue searches and data adds) along with overall improvement in user acquisition and retention.
As part of the Experience Haus Product Design course, I was partnered with Sociability to work on this as a live project brief. This was a refreshing change for me after many many years of corporate work as a designer – it was an opportunity to work on something more related to everyday people and problems.
Over a period of 3 months part-time, I worked through an end-to-end design thinking process to generate ideas to improve app engagement.
In the discovery phase, I planned and conducted user interviews to better understand their day to day experiences in researching accessible venues, or in documenting them via the app.
I analysed these insights from these interviews using affinity mapping, to define a problem statement that would help me create ideas. The problem statement was “Sociability needs make researching and adding details easier and more personal, in order to improve app usage.”
Moving on the the ideas stage, I asked myself what can be done differently? I looked at competitors and other apps for insiration, then generated a number of ideas that would do two things: reduce user overwhelm, and improve data personalisation.
Of those ideas, I planned out the strongest three through rough wireframes and interactive prototypes.
At the end of the project I presented the process and ideas to Sociability’s founder and my course group. This was well received, with the ideas being different to any they had already considered. We discussed overall strategy and a longer term approach, but for now I am waiting to hear what ideas they wil be implementing.
The project was a fascinating journey for me either way, where IIearned a lot. Not only about the design process, but about disabled people and their lives. It’s taught me that some users’ needs are not general - they can be complex and individual, which requires a different approach. I practiced deeper empathy, dealing with a user group who distrust a generalised approach. And I’ve reminded myself that UX projects aren’t always about creating visual impact, they’re better off facilitating more value for the users.