The number of social media users worldwide has been estimated to reach 2.5 billion by early 2018, meaning 1 in 3 people will be connected via one or more social media networks. The growing trend for connectivity is likely here to stay, but how can we do online networking better?
User Research: Identifying Key Pain Points
Despite the widespread use of social media platforms, not everyone finds the experience entirely satisfying. The benefits of connectivity often outweigh the inconveniences, but the growing frustration with the online networking platforms goes beyond mere usability issues. Regular users are prone to an increased level of stress and social anxiety, yet they often struggle to control their consumption. Online networking platforms have become a digital equivalent of junk food, so how can users maintain a healthy social media diet?
To identify the key pain points of regular social media users, I conducted a series of interviews, asking participants to describe their social media habits, satisfaction and frustrations. The complaints can roughly be grouped into three categories:
ADDICTION: many people admitted struggling to limit their usage, describing the experience of craving to check the latest updates or being "pulled into" the feed and neglecting other obligations. These users reported an increased level of stress, attention deficit, poor quality of sleep and low sex drive.
DOMINANT FEELING: guilt
"I go on Facebook to message a friend and before I know it,
an hour has passed and I achieved absolutely nothing"
ANXIETY: a large number of users described experiencing some form of performance anxiety. Many admitted lowered self-esteem, self-loathing and envy after comparing themselves to others' social media personas. Equally, many people said they felt anxious about how well their posts were received, seeking interaction and validation. Several users said the social interaction often feels one-sided and describe their engagement as a monologue. Even those with more active profiles said communication often feels forced and wish for more meaningful engagement.
DOMINANT FEELING: loneliness and self-doubt
"Some girls my age appear to have effortlessly perfect lives in perfect houses with perfect boyfriends and cute dogs, while I'm struggling to find a matching pair of socks in the morning. All my attempts to look glam fall flat, and I feel worse with every picture I post"
INFORMATION OVERLOAD: finally, most users agreed that their feed typically contains a lot of irrelevant information and adverts and they have to put considerable effort sifting through suggested posts to get to the information they are interested in.
DOMINANT FEELING: disappointment and frustration
"It's nice to see what old friends are up to every now and again,
but I really don't need Facebook trying to sell me a blender
and an aftershave while I do it!"
PersonaS and Storyboards:
Based on the series of interviews conducted for the project, I created two user personas - Andy and Diana. I used the real quotes from the interviews to explain their motivation and pain points:
Having identified the key pain points of the social media users, I created a series of storyboards that demonstrate how using Better Social app will lead from frustration to user satisfaction. This one was based on Danny's experience struggling to deal with social media addiction.
Prototypes and Wireframes:
I addressed each problem with a series of prototype sketches exploring potential solutions. Some of these ideas have been turned into high-fidelity wireframes and design for an app that will offer a Better Social media experience: