Knowledge Base is an Android app feature for couples to gain knowledge and get advice on relationship from both experts and users.
Watch the video presentation and the app demo below:
Design Rationale and Process
1. User-centered Research
I conducted both quantitative and qualitative research on “communication between couples”. As the topic is quite personalized, it’s not suitable to conduct observation or home/site tour to observe how people communicate with their partners. So I did a field study by having semi-structured interviews with 5 people who are dating or in a relationship and was able to collect 100+ direct quotes. Meanwhile, in order to back up my study with more quantitative data, I also created an online survey and got data from 61 participants.
The research questions covered the ways of resolving conflicts and the knowledge on dating/relationship, such as differences between men and women.
The following questions regarding this aspect are covered in the interviews:
What kind of communication difficulties do couples have when dealing with arguments/ conflicts/ emotion issues?
When one part feels wrong/ discover a shortcoming of the partner, does he/she actively try to solve the problem by communicating with the other part?
To what extent is bad communication related to breaking up?
Is their any difference in the way man and woman communicate? If so, what are they? How do couples resolve such differences?
How do mobile phone and modern technology promote/damage the communication between couples?
What is the most intolerable communication problem for a man/woman?
I conducted Affinity Analysis to analyze the 100 + quotes I collected from the interviews.
2. Define Problem
Some of the needs identified from the Affinity Analysis are as following:
- Communication is key to relationship.
- Need to know and understand deeper the difference between men and women when dealing with relationship.
- Fights are common, but need to identify the deep reason rather than superficial reasons.
The results from the online survey also supports what I found in the Affinity Analysis.
The research findings shed interesting light on what I should design. It needs to be a knowledge base to provide couples with relationship advice and scientific facts about the differences between men and women, to help those who are in conflicts find the deep reasons behind superficial fights. But it also needs to overcome the potential challenges emerging from the findings, such as the passive learning of such knowledge and the difficulty of translating such knowledge into a deeper understanding of their partners.
4. Paper Prototyping and User Testing
I quickly sketched out the screens and created a clickable prototype to do rapid user testing.
The 1st round of user testing occurred after I created an interactive paper prototype. I tested it on 3 users. The test is mainly focused on usability and at that time, this version didn’t include the “asking a question” feature. Also the priority of “My Feed” tab was higher than the “Recommended” tab so the first screen users saw was the “My Feed” tab.
The feedback on usability is overall good, and they liked the idea of having such a platform. But users also stated that they needed the exact contents to comment on if the contents would be helpful. In particular, since there were no exact contents shown in “My Feed” tab, one user felt a little bit confused. Two users suggested having the option of asking a question so that it could provide immediate help. Also one user wished it could add support to gay/lesbian couples, rather than just focusing on heterosexual couples.
5. High-fidelity Mock Ups
Building on top of the feedback, I iterated my design by adding the “asking a question” feature, changing the priority level of “My Feed” tab and created a high-fidelity interactive prototype using Sketch and Flinto.
Based on the research, I design Knowledge Base to be a platform where users can read articles related to relationship written by experts such as psychologists, counselors and writers; ask questions they need help with and answer questions from other users. Users can personalize what they want to read by following the experts they are interested in and will get notifications of new articles in their feed. As it’s a platform, Knowledge Base itself is not a content provider, but there will be editors who curate good articles and recommend them to users on landing page.
In the app, users can simply type in the key words and search for matching articles and questions other people have asked before. If they don’t find anything useful, they can then directly ask a question, and invite experts to answer it.
Note that in order for those who need immediate help to quickly get the “Just-in-time” learning, the search function is put on a top priority level (with the search bar at the top of the screen), and with sufficient visual cues to let users know they can search. (This is the reason why I didn’t just put a search icon in the action bar, although it would be more space-efficient in terms of UI elements.)
After asking a question, the user will see the new question popped up in the Questions page. Both experts and users can answer questions.
The other use case scenario is to browse and read articles by experts or to read and answer questions posted by others when they don’t need help immediately. But according to my research findings that people won’t be very active in looking for the resources in relationship issues, so one of the design challenges is how to avoid such tendency.
The way I tackle it is to have the “following experts” feature and have the “My Feed” tab on top of the priority, right in the landing page as well as have the app push notifications when some new and noteworthy articles appear.
Each expert has his/her own profile page where all the articles and questions answered are displayed. Users can easily follow the expert or ask a question to him/her.
6. User testing
Users tested the interactive prototype I made in Flinto. Since the 2nd version provides the exact contents, they all felt the app would be very helpful and they “really love the design”. One of the useful suggestions I received was that “to be able to customize the contents in the “Recommended” tab according to users’ interests”. And I later added this feature by having users select the categories that interest them after they register an account.
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