FRANK

Creating a service that helps people

to connect beyond the screen.

The goal of this thesis project was to develop a service that supports people to connect with others in a more human-centered way.

Project Info


Bachelor Thesis

BA Industrial Design

5 Months Execution Time

University Pforzheim, DesignPF

Role


Ethnographic Research, Secondary Research, Ideation, Concept Development,

User Testing, Prototyping, Storytelling, Video Production, Information Graphics

Tools


Online Survey, Interviews, Immersive Experience,

Sacrificial Concepts, Wizard of Oz, Figma, Adobe CC

Learnings


Interviews about sensitive topic, Storytelling, Wireframing,

UI Design in Figma (Phone & Watch), Filming & Post Production

Challenge

“ The conversion rate from digital acquaintance on dating apps to a real-life encounter is described as less than 1%.”

Less than 1% actually meet.

Smartphones have brought online dating into the hands of millions of people through popular new apps. Tinder, with 57 million users in 190 countries, is probably the best known of these and processes 1.6 trillion 'swipes' every day.

 

However, the conversion rate from digital dating to a real life meeting is less than 1% for popular dating apps. This means roughly 1 out of 100 matches meet in real life.

Application

Introducing Frank

Frank is a mobile application for smartphones as well as Smartwatches, designed to help its users connect with people in real life. The user has the possibility to share a request for planned or spontaneous activities with the community in his or her vicinity.

If other people who also use the service are within a radius that is defined beforehand, they can follow the request if they are interested. Of course, every user has the possibility to share a request concerning his individual interests and activities.

Optionally, search criteria such as age group, gender and sexual orientation can also

be set in advance. Unlike dating apps 'Frank' aims to help connecting people in a more human-centred way through common activities in real life. 

Frank.jpg

Concept Video

Share your activity & spontaneously connect with people offline through common interests. Just like Helen & Theo.

Frank aims to match people in the immediate vicinity who share the same interests and activities they want to meet for. There is no need to engage in chats over days or weeks to finally might end up not meeting in real after all. The focus of the application Frank is on connecting its users in a spontaneous manner and supporting people to meet offline while dimming the stigma of a date. 

How It Works

Only four steps that lead to meeting an impactful person

who shares your interests. It is as simple as that.

User can share a request for a planned or spontaneous activity with the community in his or her vicinity. Other people who also use the service and are within a radius that is defined beforehand, they can follow the request if they are interested. Of course, every user has the possibility to share a request concerning his individual interests and activities. Each request stays online for 24 hours. Due to each request only staying active for one day, the aim of Frank is to connect people in real life in an honest and spontaneous way. The lack of transparency as well as expectations, which is described as being a downside in many online dating apps, is pushed to the background by meeting the same day.

1. Plan

1.34 pm:

Helen has made the decision to visit a new exhibition in the city later today.

2. Share

1.40 pm:

She opens the App Frank and shares her activity with other users nearby.

3. Connect

2.54 pm:

After a short time Theo, who is also interested in the exhibition and would like to come along, gets in touch. Helen agrees.

4. Meet

4.07 pm:

Helen and Theo meet

a few minutes late at

the entrance of the exhibition.

Key Features

Share and receive activities, connect with friends and let Frank navigate you to meet new people. Without chatting for days.

As a digital tool for promoting contact with other people in real life, Frank is designed for minimum screen time. The user is guided through the individual functions in the application by a clear user interface. The application is divided into three main menus: activities, profile and requests. 

Browse.jpg

What are people up to?

See other peoples activities

based on your search setting

in your community nearby.

A different background color helps to distinguish all shared activities.

Basic Flow

A coherent structure from digital acquaintance to

real life meeting. In your pocket as well as on your wrist.

Up and down. Right to left. Press. These simple interactions lead you through a lean and coherent structure of the application Frank on your phone or smart watch. The basic screen flow models show each touch point with the user, how screens are connected and information is forwarded.

Basic Flow_phone.jpg

Basic Screen Flow Model of Frank for your phone.

 

The process of designing Frank.

Involving many people with different experiences with dating in all stages of the human-centered design approach was key to the development of the project. Through interviews, immersive experience, user testing  and simply chatting about the topic I was able to gain a lot of valuable insights that helped to eventually design Frank.

Ethnographic Research

Downloading Tinder & Co. for research purpose.
I am not even joking.

Using a human-centered design approach, I was able to get an understanding of the intimate field of online dating. Research methods like an online survey, interviews as well as a self-experiment with common mobile dating apps helped to gain deeper insights into the challenges, ambitions and constraints of people in search of a partner. On- and offline.

Interview.jpg

Interviews with experts and user of online dating.

Quotes from Research

Dating Apps help to initiate a first contact.”

Key Insights

Oppose to finding your future partner, dating apps can also cause issues for user. On both a physical and mental level.

After an intensive examination of the topic, a large number of insights about structure, usage, market and social science were gained. In addition to the advantages such as selection and quick and easy connection with people, the most relevant issues of online dating for the further course of the work were summarised. At the same time, they represent the requirements as well as the possibilities for the development of an alternative solution.

Findings3.jpg

Only a few people actually meet in real life.

Due to the gap between online connection and the offline world people rarely get to see each other in a personal meeting.

Findings22.jpg

Too many options.

Having too many options or possibilities at hand is considered to be exhausting by many users. People do not want to commit to someone. 

Findings32.jpg

'Dating Stigma'

Certain expectations are always around when meeting through dating apps.The lack of clearity about intentions is a common problem.

Findings23.jpg

Building up high expectations.

Expectations sometimes are not met due to the lack of transparency dating apps provide. The digital alter ego can differ from real characteristics.

Concept Development

How to support people to actually meet in real life &
how to get from 'having a date' to 'meeting someone'?
Make it simple & spontaneous.

Some of the identified advantages of online dating, insights as well as desires from the user were included in the process as requirements. Using those requirements for a co-creation workshop helped to provide design opportunities for the development of an improved alternative. Questions were considered such as which values are represented, which products or services should be developed for people and what impact is generated. 

Co-Creation Workshop.jpg

Co-Creation Workshop with fellow design students and designer from different disciplines.

Prototyping

Getting acquainted to wireframes. On paper and in Figma.

Based on the gained knowledge a prototype of the application Frank was developed, which considered the technical possibilities of current mobile devices. Methods like paper wireframes, physical models and a click dummy allowed to quickly change structure and features of the concept in order to further develop while prototyping.

User Testing.jpg

Validating the concept and interaction through iterative user tests. In other words: "I like that. But this is kinda weird."