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.
UX Designer, UI Designer
Otter, Whimsical, Figma, Maze
Research Plan, Research Report, User Persona, Mockups, Prototypes, Usability Tests
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?
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.
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.
By the second interview, I’d learned a couple things:
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.
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:
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?
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
With a clear winner, I drilled down into the Question Prompts’ test results. There were two events on the Question Screen with significant misclicks:
With these learnings in mind, I made some tweaks to make the inactive input field more intuitive and the submit button more accessible.
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%.
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.
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: