Chimehack is a hackathon hosted by Twitter to promote hacking for change. Over the weekend, my friends and I built an entire iOS app in 48 hours. We named our app asOne because it helps keep a big group of friends together when out at the bars or traveling.
Topics: Social, Safety
Roles: Mobile interface design, User experience
Tools: Adobe Illustrator, Sketch 3, Xcode, Git
Team: 1 designer, 4 engineers
Designing for a solution
Usually, it had something to do with making sure friends are ok. When your friend goes missing, they're not picking up their phone andit's hard to tell whether or not their phone is dead. They're probably not in enough danger to call campus safety, but that doesn't mean you don't care where they are.
That's why we built asOne. It's a better way to communicate in groups when going out. Instead of annoying group messages, we create temporary friend groups that shares information about each member's location, battery level, and the time they want to go home.
Creating a distinct visual style
Inclusiveness was a major theme throughout both Chimehack and the mission our technology. Using our app is essentially making a pact within your friends. To embody this feeling of warmth, unity, and trust in a visual language, I designed a logo with a symmetrical heart pattern and warm blends.
Empathizing with the user
The resting screen is our main view. It's the dashboard that is designed to replace the logistical hassle of a group message. The resting screen makes it easy to check up on your friends periodically. Without any engagement from the user, the dashboard automatically displays information we're able to natively access from each friend's phone.
I thought back to all the things I wish I could do when my friends are not pick up their phone:
1. An easy way to get a simple a status update
2. An easy way to check in with everyone without calling them individually
3. Seeing where they are instead of asking where they are
4. A way to make sure their phone isn't dead
Creating trust and protecting privacy
Usability and the onboarding process was a key concern in my design. Nobody was going have this app at their fingertips, if it was hard to sign up, log in, and immediately delivering value. Because we were at twitter, we received fantastic feedback about the challenges facing products that only works when many users buy into the system.
With that in mind, it became clear to me we weren't here to build yet another social media app. Having a social network was only the means to our end of which was making it easier for college students to look after their friends. We didn't need to create our own user id system, if we integrate facebook profiles using their SDK.
The key drawback to with leveraging existing profiles is potential concerns over privacy. Our remedy was a system where formed groups only last until the next morning. To use the app again, a new group must be created. To minimize friction in this process, we included recent and nearby friends at the top of the contact list.
Collaborating with engineers
Usually when everyone's ready to go home, there's that one person that nobody can find. So I designed a detailed extension to the group view. Tapping on the friend brings you to more actions such as sending a push notification and enabling audio. Additionally we automatically set the true north of the inline map to that of the selected friend.
We built this app because this was a tool missing from our everyday lives. For the rest of the summer we would often use it as a tool to ping and find eachother. Since then, similar apps such as Friend Finder and Companion have made their way into the market.
In retrospect, the technology wasn't earth shattering, but this is a great example of how fast a talented team can work decisively when there is good chemistry. In one weekend, we shipped a product that would take a company at least half a year to assemble.