In my research and prototyping, I found that more options does not always mean good options; in fact, I found that limiting how many people the user can connect with creates a sense of trustworthiness to those using the app. For that reason, within the app, people are given a set of four professionals they can reach out to per day- never more. These four professionals are chosen by Vit’s smart algorithm, which matches similar goals, interests, types of work, and more.
You might be thinking: why four? In order to understand this, you have to know that a huge design icon in my life is Tristan Harris, an ex-Google design ethicist and creator of Time Well Spent. His entire mission is to make sure people spend their time online in a way that is meaningful and goal-oriented; something I strive to ensure in my own work. Giving the user only 4 people to reach out to per day not only makes them more likely to reach out to those professionals, but ensures they won’t spend more time on the app than is totally necessary.
Users can reach out to professionals they are interested in connecting with, but only by setting up a time, date, and place to meet. In my research, I found that the most used part of LinkedIn was its people-finding and messaging services, but that often people were unsure how to go about actually meeting professionals in person. This is not dissimilar to general dissatisfaction with dating apps: while many dating services provide different ways to see who’s out there, the actual element of getting people to meet in person often falls flat.
I also found that once people met professionals in person, the more likely they were to feel that these people were part of their larger professional network and could be called upon.
Once they set a meeting, the professional on the other side of the app has 24 hours to respond to the invitation. After each meeting, the user can write a small note for their own viewing purposes about how it went, what the person was like, and attach that to the professional’s contact. They can then set more meetings with the professional, and have access to their actual email and contact info.
Here’s the catch: users can’t see exactly where everyone works- they can only see their title, mutual connections, location, and information. This might seem strange, as the point of the app is to connect professionals and place of work seems crucial; however, the more research I did, the more I learned how the ‘superficiality’ of networking mostly comes from its goal oriented nature. Those that talk to professionals solely as a method for getting a job at their place of work come off as superficial and rarely create meaningful relationships; however, those that talk to professionals in their industry for the intention of meeting like-minded (or, in some cases, not-so-like-minded) individuals pursuing their own passions in their space were generally received as friendly and genuine.
If you’re interested in seeing more of what I’m talking about, feel free to check out the video at the top of this page for a little summary.
Overall, this project was a huge learning experience- learning to work alone, learning to own my process, learning what that process looks like. I'm looking forward to getting share more work with you all very soon.
With this project coming to a close, I’m excited about what’s next: a few quick sprints, each spanning two weeks, where I’ll prototype and learn all I can about the ideas of generosity, reciprocity, giving, and receiving, eventually leading to a six-week long expansion on one of the sprints. Feel free to find that work on my medium account (https://medium.com/@natalielew) , and follow me on Twitter (twitter.com/natalierobinlew) and Instagram (@natrlew) for quick, timely updates!