LOCAL PARENT FINDER

A mobile app for new parents to meet other new parents in their community through user-generated in-person events.

THE PROBLEM
While making the transition into new parenthood, first time parents can have a hard time meeting other new parents due to a number of factors, such as being too busy to know where to look, being new to the area, or their existing friend group not having kids of their own. This can leave them feeling isolated in their challenges and experiences.
KEY GOAL
Make an app that allows parents to more easily meet other parents through local in-person events and thus lessen the feeling of isolation by forming new connections.
TIMELINE
It took me 6 weeks (2 weeks for the research and planning phase, 3 weeks for the design phase, and 1 week for the testing and observation phase).
MY ROLE
Starting from just a hunch that being a new parent might be hard, this was a solo project, and I was the planner, the researcher and interviewer, the designer, and the one conducting usability tests.
THE PROTOTYPE
Check out the prototype below, or if you are on mobile, check it out here!
MY PROCESS

My process can be best broken up into three main phases: (Click on a phase to jump to that section.)

 

  • Research and Planning, which consisted of:

    • Creating a research plan and discussion guide

    • Conducting 4 interviews to get an idea of potential problem areas of being a parent

    • Writing down observations and organizing them into an affinity map

    • Articulating a key problem and a hypothesis of how I could solve the problem​

    • Listing features and organizing them across a prioritization matrix to come up with a minimal viable product
       

  • Design, which consisted of:

    • Creating a paper prototype using index cards

    • Usability testing the paper prototype and

    • Writing down observations and implementing them into a mid-fidelity wireframe using Sketch

    • Choosing a font and color scheme and creating a high-fidelity prototype using Sketch and InVision
       

  • Testing and Results, which consisted of:

    • Creating a discussion guide

    • Conducting 3 usability tests

    • Organizing observations into a plus/delta chart which points to next steps

 
PHASE 1:
RESEARCH AND PLANNING
RESEARCH PLAN AND GUIDE

Before I had a concrete idea of what I was going to be designing, or even what problem it would be solving, I needed to do some research to uncover any pain points of being a parent. I wanted to interview young families with a baby(babies), a young child(children) or both, and from various economic statuses.

 

Here are some bold strokes of what I was interested in and 4 of the 16 questions I asked:

Research Areas of Interest
  • The challenges of parenthood
     

  • Where parents turn when they are having difficulties raising their kid(s) - the internet, other people, both, etc
     

  • If this help comes in the form of advice, what kind of advice? If in other forms of help, what kind of help?
     

  • How socioeconomics affects the challenges (or lack thereof) of raising a kid

Some Questions I Asked
  • How have you gone about learning to be a parent? From which sources?
     

  • What role does community play in raising your kid(s)?
     

  • Do you have any friends who are also parents? Expecting parents? Do you ever go to them for advice? In which way (phone, in person, social media, etc?)
     

  • What role does social media play in your life? In which ways do you think it could help in raising your kid(s)?

INTERVIEWS

I conducted four interviews, asking questions in my discussion guide. I interviewed three sets of parents (moms and dads) as well as a mom who’s husband was at work. One set were expecting their first child, while the others were already parents of two very young children.

 

Here is an excerpt from one interview, with permission to show this by the parents.

AFFINITY MAPPING OBSERVATIONS

I began to pick out the most important observations that I had gathered. I wrote each observation down on a Post-It note, with a color for each interview. After organizing these into clusters of topics, I was able to visualize the data.

 

Feel free to click on the picture below to view each note in up close.

Affinity Map Photo.jpg

The following topics stood out to me the most:

 

  • Isolation

    • This can occur when parents are the first in their friend group to have kids, because it’s difficult to incorporate these friends into the parent’s busy new life. This can also occur when parents move to a new area.
       

  • Fighting Isolation

    • The consensus is that to lessen isolation, getting out there is a must. There are a lot of other parents searching for friends as well.
       

  • Asking Questions

    • Parents benefit from knowing other parents who are in the same boat because they can ask each other questions as well as commiserate about the challenges and joys of parenthood. 
       

  • People vs. Google

    • Some questions and topics are black and white and can be looked up on Google, and some grey areas can be discussed in forums. But when talking to another parent in-person, the topic can not only be addressed with more warmth, but it can lead to a wider conversation that an internet search can’t provide.

PROBLEM STATEMENT AND HYPOTHESIS
Problem Statement

New parents need a way to easily find and meet in-person fellow new parents who have kids of a similar age and who live in the local area. This is because new parents can feel isolated and in need of the friendship and support that comes from fellow new parents in the same boat.

Hypothesis

By creating a hub showcasing local user-generated events, I will achieve an easier way for parents to meet and befriend other parents, in addition to knowing what resources are in their area. I will know this is successful when I see parents reporting that this product eased the process of meeting like-minded parents.

PRIORITIZING FEATURES

Like a floodgate, a ton of features rushed into my mind. To avoid featuritis, I created a prioritization matrix.

 

Feel free to click on it to view a larger version

Prioritization Matrix.jpg
PHASE 2:
DESIGN
 
CREATING A PAPER PROTOTYPE

Knowing which features I needed, I used index cards to sketch a paper prototype of the app. I used Meetup’s mobile app as inspiration since it has the similar aim of getting people to meet up.

PAPER PROTOTYPE USABILITY TEST

Before moving further, I wanted to know what parents thought of my idea. I tested my prototype with a single mother as well as two sets of parents (moms and dads).

 

Here is an excerpt from one usability test, with permission to show this by the parent.

Here is a summary of the feedback I recieved through all three tests, as well as the changes that I made in response:

 

  • The sign up phase was intuitive and engaging. I did get input from the fathers that this should be open to all parents, not just moms. So going forward, I changed the name to Local Parent Finder, and the focus as well.
     

  • The find screen went mostly smoothly. I did get some input that the location section was confusing, because it seemed that you were supposed to choose an event and then where you wanted it to be located. It wasn’t clear that they were two separate sections of the app, so I decided to defer the location system to the next iteration cycle. 
     

  • There was some confusion with one parent about the modal that informed how the RSVP system worked. It seemed to get in the way, so I got rid of it.
     

  • I had forgotten to include a forum section, and in all of the usability tests it was mentioned how helpful a section would be. So I included it going forward.
     

  • All other areas of the app went smoothly for all users.

MID-FIDELITY WIREFRAME

Using the feedback from the usability test, I incorporated them into a mid-fidelity wireframe.  

CHOOSING A FONT AND COLOR SCHEME

After testing out different fonts and color schemes, I came down to deciding between Arial and Skia. I went with Skia because I found it legible, better at showing a size difference than Arial, and more unique. I wanted a fun, whimsical feel. 

 

Similarly, I chose a color scheme that had a soft, baby-like feel to it: dark lavender, pink, periwinkle, a light blondish-creme, and accents of orange and turquoise.

Font and Color Scheme.jpg
HIGH-FIDELITY DESIGN AND PROTOTYPE

I used Sketch to apply the new font and color scheme, the Craft plugin to link everything together, and InVision to turn my design into a clickable prototype.

 

Below are the high-fidelity designs. Check out the prototype here!

PHASE 3:
TESTING AND RESULTS
 
CONDUCTING USABILITY TESTS

I created a discussion guide with questions meant to stress test my design and uncover any flaws. Next, I recruited three more sets of parents (moms and dads), handed them my prototype, and recorded my notes.

 

Here is an excerpt from one usability test, with permission to show this by the parent.

RESULTS

Looking at my notes, I created a list of what went well and what needs fixing. I was more attentive to what needs fixing, hence why that area of the list is longer.

What Went Well

Every user that was tested was able to get around the app pretty easily. The flow of the app made intuitive sense to everyone.

To get to the “Event Info” page, everyone correctly tapped on “Read More”.

All of the users easily made the association between RSVP, Bookmark, and the “Saved” icon leading to the “Saved Events” screen. 

The users really liked the “Forums” section of the app.

Creating an event was an easy for all users.

Every user was easily able to figure out (and thought it was natural) that their profile page could be accessed from the profile icon in the upper right corner of the screen.

Every user liked the setup of the “Event Info” page.

Every user liked the share option for events and felt that all the available ways to share were covered.

Users appreciated the “Their Life as a Parent”, “Their Interests as a Parent”, “Friends You Share In Common”, and “Events They Recently Attended” aspects of the Other Person’s profile page. They felt that it clues them in to what they have in common.

What Needs Fixing

Some users had difficulty at the event list page because the titles in the big blue curved boxes looked like they could have been part of the event above it.

 

I could fix this by using space or a border to seperate events from one another.

Users wanted a way to know which events their friends are going to, as long as their friends want this information to be public (there would be an option for their friends to make this private as well). Perhaps this could be found under the profile page of each friend.

Some users wanted  a way to search for parents - a search bar where you type in their name in the same way as Facebook.

For the things that are RSVP’d, it would be nice to get notificaitons outside of the app on your phone.

 

For example a message like:

“You RSVP’d to this event… it takes place at ____ (time/date).

I should have a calander implementation - especially for RSVP’s. This helps aid in planning and prevents overlapping events.

 

I could also have a screen that pops up and says “Are you sure you want to RSVP? You’ve already RSVP’d to ___ event which takes place at the same time.

Allow users to search for events created by a certain person, so they could keep up to date with their favorite event planners.

 

I could do this by allowing users to follow events created by a certain person. Every time the person created a new event, it could show up under a special section called “Events You Might Be Interested In”.

For the forums, I should have the option to post anonymously.

When looking at an event and going to another part of the app, there should be a “back” arrow that goes back to the exact placement of the events you were looking at. This would prevent having to hunt down an event again.

Events need an indicaton for who the event is geared towards.

 

I could have an “Additional Information” section of the “Create an Event” area that includes things like age range of the kids and price of the event.

NEXT STEPS

For the next steps, I would implement these changes and then conduct more usability tests. This was both my first UX and first UI project, and I have grown a lot in my visual design skills since then. Perhaps in the future I will revisit this project and apply my new knowledge. In addition to the issues and changes I outlined in the previous section, I would start with a better font choice for the intro screen, as well as better spacing between elements. But overall, I am still quite proud of the planning and research behind this design.

Nice to meet you!

Let's Chat!

I’m a thinker, a researcher, a listener, and a creator. When I’m not sketching on paper, or creating on Sketch, I’m walking around observing the world and pondering the ways in which an app, a website, or another expression of technology could make it better.

 

But enough about me. I’d love to hear from you. I’m open to any and all opportunities.

You can reach me at:

          geoffgparker.ux@gmail.com

          +1 512.998.4179

          linkedin.com/in/geoffgparker

© 2019 by GEOFF PARKER