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Beyond

'Beyond' is a couple relationship management app that customizes features based on individuals emotional communication preferences (Love Languages). Its primary goal is to strengthen emotional connection couples have with each other. Please click here to see the interactive prototype!

How might an app help couples manage their long-distance relationships more effectively?

Design Challenge

  • How do people keep in touch with family, friends, and significant others?
  • What do people find difficult in a long-distance relationship?
  • How might knowing other people's love languages promote mutual understandings?

Design Scope

  • Project Length - 2 months
  • 1 Week (Contextual Inquiry)
  • 1 Week (User Interviews)
  • 1 Week (Synthesize Research, Five Love Languages)
  • 1 Week (Competitive Analysis and Persona)
  • 1 Week (User Flow and Information Architecture)
  • 1 Week (Paper Prototype)
  • 1 Week (Mid Fidelity Prototype)
  • 1 Week (Interactive Prototype + Visual Design)
  • Learn how to use design thinking methods
  • Learn the importance of user research and how it impacts design choices
  • Learn to become a more empathetic UX designer.

Design Research

I've seen my friends having arguments and misunderstandings with their family, friends, and significant others that are difficult to resolve, especially when they are apart. I would often play the role of a counselor and console my friends when they go through hard times. During the process, I became curious to know what caused these misunderstandings and arguments, and if there is a way to reduce them.

    Interview Goals

  • What are people's long distance relationship experience like?
  • How do people keep in touch?
  • What problems do people experience in a relationship?

Interview Questions Asked

User Interview Questions

Interview Documentation Link

Synthesizing Interview Results

User Interview results

Affinity Mapping

    User Patterns

  • 6 out of 12 users talked about their significant other.
  • 12 out of 12 users used their phones to keep in touch.
  • People in long distance relationship with their significant others had the most number of problems.
  • People care about their relationship with significant others the most.
  • Kakaotalk and Between are the most popular apps used for long-distance relationships.

Research showed that long-distance relationship challenges were most common among couples. Therefore, the target audience specified into couples.

The Five Love Languages

  • Quality Time - giving the other person your undivided attention
  • Words of Affirmation - uses words to affirm other people
  • Physical Touch - nothing speaks more deeply than appropriate touch
  • Acts of Service - actions speak louder than words
  • Gifts Giving - what makes them feel most loved is to receive a gift

During my interviews, I heard many personal anecdotes on problems people had in their long-distance relationships. At the core, I realized the problem lied in communication method and lack of empathizing with their significant other. Empathizing is not only to understand other person's feelings, but to also commmunicate your understanding of another person's feelings. In this case, the feelings is the person's "love language" or the way they express and would like to receive love.

On google, I typed in love languages and found many articles pointing to 'The Five Love Languages'. According to a Forbes article written by Gretchen Rubin, 'The Five Love Languages' is developed by Chapman and he argues that "that in a relationship, we should figure out what language makes our partner feel loved, and provide that; even if we’re acting very lovingly according to our own standards, if it’s not what a partner needs, it won’t make that partner feel loved."

    Direct quotes from the interviews indicating the difficulty to empathize with significant other's love language

  • "I think the hardest thing is the difference in love language. Mine is quality time, vs. boyfriend or family who's love language are words of affirmation."
  • "For solving argument, my boyfriend and I are unable to fight, argue, and them make up by hugging because of the long distance."
  • "With my boyfriend I want to touch, hold hands, we can’t sit for a while or have space together. There is long distance. We have to mentally present paying attention."
  • "So much goes on in many different aspects: work, school, friends etc. that it can be hard to report everything, and even when you do, they might not exactly understand it either."
  • "Long distance relationships have always existed and not been easy but I feel so blessed to be living in this era of social media and smart phones that make it all a bit easier."

Competitive Analysis

Persona

Design Ideation

ideation

What if the app allow users to select his or her love languages that has specific features for each language respectively? I remembered one of my interviewee specifying her love language as quality time and her significant other's as words of affirmation. Given the length of the project, I decided to ideate and prototype specifically for the two love languages.

Ideal User Flow

Card Sorting

With 27 cards, I decided to conduct card sorting exercise with three users get more insights on how users would expect features of the app to be grouped. The following are observations and insights I gained from the exercise.

  • Maybe the terms were too vague for people to understand the feature’s function (ie. Search).
  • Cards were sorted into subject, functions in an app, and family.
  • Color coding which ones are primary and which ones are secondary features could have been helpful.
Card Sorting 1 Card Sorting
Card Sorting 2 Card Sorting
Card Sorting 3 Card Sorting Card Sorting

Information Architecture

Design Prototype

    Usability Testing (3 people)
  • Make 'add event' happen when user selects(taps) date.
  • Add drop features such as method and important.
  • Include log out feature.

Mid-Fidelity Screen Annotations

prototype annotations

Visual Design

visual design color chart visual design logo sketch

Final Prototype

    Final Prototype Link Usability Testing (2 people)
  • Use color to connect love language feature to on boarding.
  • How can the two love language features be more integrated in one another?

Usability Testing (2 people)

usability testing

    Feedback

  • Wish love language features connected with each other more.
  • Nice small details like terms & conditions and remember me in login.
  • What will show up when you entered your partner’s number but your partner doesn’t have an account yet either?
  • Maybe the language for the onboarding screens can be phrased differently (more directly).
  • Maybe add the on boarding screens to the setting too so that people can refer back to?

Design Reflection

During the two months of this project, I enjoyed every step of the process. This project involved a long process that included interviewing 12 people and testing prototypes with 10 users. What began as a curiosity to know more about ways people communicate with one another when they are apart led to a discovery of an area that could be improved. Although relationship between two people requires trust most of all, I realized that empathizing with your partner is as just as important. Empathy would lead to mutual understanding and appreciation for each other's love language that can strengthen the trust and ways of communicating between couples. This app may not help with every challenge a couple goes through; however, I hope it would make users think about their partner's love language. When users empathize with their partners' love language, they are empathizing with their partners.

    I learned the following...

  • Interviewing process will only get easier with practice and experience.
  • Asking the right questions to users would lead to better design outcomes.
  • There are so many variables that can affect a relationship; it is important to know that a single app cannot solve them all.