Mobile App (Signifi)

My Role: UI Designer, UX Researcher

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Background

1 out of every 4 women in the U.S. is sexually assaulted when in college. Myself and 3 other designers worked with a team of engineers to develop an alert system app that would help prevent sexual assault on college campuses. The concept of the app was to provide an alert system where friends can check in on each other and ask for and receive help.

The Process

We began by interviewing users about sexual assault and hearing their opinions on how to prevent this from happening. Based on those interviews, we created two user personas for the app: the bystander who wants to help their friends but does not know how, and the student who wants an easy way to call on their friends for help.

The first wireframe of the app focused on three main capabilities: an alert system, a way to check in with friends, and a way to find a friend who needs help. After creating a paper prototype with these features, we tested it on 5 users and got their feedback after asking them to complete several tasks with the app.

We then modified our app and made changes that we implemented in our basic wireframes. We created an interactive prototype using InVision, which we tested on 5 more users. After reviewing our interview notes and insights, we developed high-fidelity wireframes, which we then gave to a team of iOS and web developers for implementation. Below are the insights we gathered from our testing and how they influenced the design.

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Insight 1: Users will be drinking.

Over half of all instances of sexual assaults involve drugs or alcohol. This means that, likely, users of the app will be somewhat intoxicated. To combat this, we designed large, simple buttons and used the familiar colors of red/yellow/green to easily signify to the user what each button meant. If a user is in a bad situation, then no matter how drunk they are, they will intuitively press the red button, not the green one. We also recognized that this app would mostly be used at night and needed to be discreet, so we used a dark interface for the UI. This would avoid the app being bright and blinding, while at the same time allowing the user to discreetly call for help if necessary.

 When calling for help, users will likely be using their phone at night, and being discreet is a requirement. Because the mockup uses bold colors, a dark interface is necessary to maintain secrecy. A bright interface would be far too bold and would not fulfill the user's need to be discreet.

When calling for help, users will likely be using their phone at night, and being discreet is a requirement. Because the mockup uses bold colors, a dark interface is necessary to maintain secrecy. A bright interface would be far too bold and would not fulfill the user's need to be discreet.

Insight 2: People want to help but don’t know how.

Based on our user interviews, we found that people wanted to be active bystanders and help their friends and others, but they didn’t know when to intervene in a situation. You might be at a bar and see something that looks suspicious, but how do you know if you should act on it or not? That’s where the alert system comes in. If your friend alerts you that they need help, you can feel comfortable knowing your help is wanted and needed. The app also includes a feature that lets you notify your Facebook friends, friends of friends, or nearby users of the app. This gives bystanders a way to help others without feeling like they’re being intrusive. Bystanders are important users of the app, so the ability to alert nearby people allows the bystander user to intervene and help a stranger by being notified in a discreet but effective way.

 These wireframes show the interaction that occurs when setting up who you will use the app to alert. Users can select "Trusted Friends" that they import from their contacts. They can then choose if they want to auto-notify only those trusted friends, or, in an emergency, if they want to notify all their Facebook friends or all people nearby using the app.

These wireframes show the interaction that occurs when setting up who you will use the app to alert. Users can select "Trusted Friends" that they import from their contacts. They can then choose if they want to auto-notify only those trusted friends, or, in an emergency, if they want to notify all their Facebook friends or all people nearby using the app.

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Insight 3: This happens on a casual night.

Nobody goes out expecting to be sexually assaulted, and thus, it’s hard to plan in advance for those situations. Therefore, we wanted this app to be something that people use every night they go out. Because of this, we focused on making the app more about keeping in touch with your friends. The map of your friends gives users an easy way to see where their friends are. This would be very useful if their friend was in a bad situation and needed help. However, this would also be useful if you lost your friend at a party or wanted to meet up with them. By making the app not only exclusive to dangerous situations, it will encourage regular behavior, which will ultimately cause more people to use the app. This means that more people would potentially be able to help someone in a bad situation.

Final Product

By conducting thorough user testing and research, we were able to use our three main insights to develop an app that directly addressed the needs and experiences of our target users. The final app was discreet and simple while still providing an effective and efficient alert system.