Hinge's Post-match Experience

Helping dating app users rekindle conversations.
9 MINUTE READ

Project Overview

As a hopeless romantic and dating app enthusiast, I love that Hinge’s experience is “designed to be deleted,” as their tagline states. By helping users personalize their profiles with question prompts, Hinge encourages swiping more intentionally.

And yet, despite my matches being more deliberate, I still struggle to actually talk to them. The result is lots of matches, but very little conversation. After chatting with friends, it seems like a lot of people have the same issue.

One day, while yet again attempting to come up with the perfect one-liner, I decided there must be an easier way to get people talking to each other.

Disclaimer: this is a passion project and in no way affiliated with Hinge.

Role

UX Designer, UI Designer

Tools

Otter, Whimsical, Figma, Maze

Deliverables

Research Plan, Research Report, User Persona, Mockups, Prototypes, Usability Tests

Year

2021

The Problem

Hinge users need a less stressful way to start conversations with their matches so  they can form meaningful connections.

How might we start their conversations for them?

The Process

Before we dive in, here's a quick look at my design process.

Tired of reading case studies? I get it—click here to skip to the designs.

User Research

In order to better understand the challenges people face when sliding into their matches’ DMs on Hinge, 
I conducted 5 user interviews.

The first step was to create a research plan and discussion guide. These would help clarify my research goals and keep my interviews on track.

Adjustments

By the second interview, I’d learned a couple things:

  • Participants may feel uncomfortable discussing
 their dating app usage
  • Users may struggle with not just starting conversations, but rekindling them

Based on these observations, I tweaked my introduction to make participants feel more at ease. I then added more specific questions around speaking to matches more than once.

Hi! So nice to meet you, my name’s Leah and I’m a UX Designer interested in learning more about the online dating experience.
There’s absolutely no judgement here! I’m a hopeless romantic 
and my goal for these interviews 
is really to make forming deeper connections easier for us all. Is it OK if I record this conversation?

Extracting Insights

After completing the interviews, I created an affinity map to identify key themes and trends among my 5 participants.

This really confirmed my decision to dig deeper into restarting conversations rather than starting them:

  • 4 out of 5 participants said they speak to most of their matches once
  • 4 out of 5 participants reported speaking to their matches twice less than 30% of the time on average

Want all the nitty-gritty details? You can check out the full affinity map here.

The Problem (Revised)

Hinge users need a less stressful way to start continue conversations with their matches so  they can form meaningful connections.

How might we start restart their conversations for them?

User Persona

Now that I had a better understanding of the problem, the next step was to synthesize insights from the user interviews into a user persona.

Meet Sam: a young, single professional who's looking for entertainment, but hoping for love.

Customer Journey Map

And finally, I created a customer journey map. Online dating is so emotionally-driven that it’s crucial to understand how users are feeling at every step to uncover pain points and opportunities.

Design Ideas & Prioritization

Now for the fun part: wireframing! I did 8 quick sketches of potential solutions.

After using a 2x2 matrix to gauge which features to prioritize based on least effort/expense and highest impact, I selected two features to design and test: Polls and Question Prompts.

Polls Feature

The first feature I decided to design and test was in-chat polls.

After two users have had a first conversation, if they do not strike up a second within 24 hours, they receive a prompt from Hinge to answer a poll together.

Intending to both entertain and help take the pressure off, users answer on a separate screen (where they can't see if the other person is typing) and their answers are only shared after both users have completed the poll.

Here's the prototype I built to test with—feel free to click through it yourself!

Question Prompts Feature

The second feature was in-chat question prompts.

This behaves the same way as the polls feature, only users are given a question prompt (similar to what Hinge uses in their profiles) instead.

Usability Testing

With my two prototypes ready to go, it was time to do some usability testing.

I used Maze to conduct 5 unmoderated usability tests. The mission for participants was to successfully answer the poll or question prompt and then see their match’s answer.

Feel free to take the polls usability test or the question prompts usability test yourself!

Test Results

At the end of each usability test, I asked the same 3 questions so I could get some early qualitative feedback as well.

As you'll see below, the two features had similar usability scores, but participants clearly liked the question prompts experience more.

Optimizing the Question Prompts Feature

With a clear winner, I drilled down into the Question Prompts’ test results. There were two events on the Question Screen with significant misclicks:

  • Activating the answer input field
  • Closing the keyboard after inputting their answer

With these learnings in mind, I made some tweaks to make the inactive input field more intuitive and the submit button more accessible.

Before
In the answer input field’s inactive state, there’s an example of an answer.
I followed up with the participants and 4 out of 5 assumed they could “send” this answer.
After
To make the text in the inactive input field's text feel more like a placeholder, I added e.g. and ellipses at the end.
I then changed the text colour from white to light grey.
Before
Once a user fills in their answer, they must close the keyboard to access the “send” button.
3 out of 5 participants failed 
to close the keyboard on their first try.
After
Why make users close the keyboard at all?
Instead, I made the submit button slide up when the keyboard opens so that users don’t need to close the 
keyboard to access it.

Conclusions

I conducted a second round of usability tests with the updated prototype. The overall test score improved and the average misclick rate dropped by over 50%.

Next Steps

Sparking Joy

Now that the in-chat question prompts feature is functional and usable, it’s time to make it exciting! I’ll be making the reveal of both match’s answers feel more delightful by adding a quick, celebratory animation.

Sparking Intimacy

Next is content strategy—specifically, which questions should we ask and when in order to help users cultivate meaningful connections?

This would be heavily inspired by Social Psychologist Arthur Aron’s 36 Questions to Spark Intimacy. 
There’s already a validated cadence and order for the questions in place, so what I’d like to test is if Aron’s method still proves to be effective when:

  • asking and answering questions on a mobile app, rather than face to face
  • there’s a delay between questions

Read more about Arthur Aron's methodology here.

Wanna chat?

Whether you're interested in working together or just want to geek out about dating apps, feel free to get in touch.

OverviewResearchInsightsDesignTestIterateConclusions