Networking app redesigned

Product Design - UI Design - Design System
Project Overview
Sphere is a small startup I was working for. When big companies hosted an event, they would call us to be in charge of the networking between attendees.
My role was to adapt our app to make it saleable. Our main focus was customisation, development time, adaptability.
My Contributions
I was part of the engieneering team as the only designer in the company. The product already existed and I mainly worked on user flows and UI.

"I worked with Martin during his time at Sphere. He is a very nice colleague to work with and his contribution to the project was valuable. He is committed to his work and opened to other's, which make him a good asset for any team."

Sebastien Chambon, former CTO and associate at Sphere.
A showcase of the iOS and Android networking app
Problem statement
Sphere made a pivot in their business when they switched from selling their own app to selling this solution as white label. Clients wanted to customize their app with their company's visual identity. The service we provided had to look like an internal work from their company.

We made the mistake to go on a "feature madness" when we made our app's first version. That led to a poorly designed product with a code getting heavier and heavier.
Project goals
1
Make the app as light as possible
2
Make the UI adaptable to different visual identities
3
Make our building process more efficient
Every screen linked to the user profil
We focused on making users stand up from the groups.
Challenges
Our first challenge was to cut our app's content down to its main features. We had insight from prospective customers about what they needed on the app. The problem was that we didn't know how final users (events attendees) would react to the features we had. All we knew was that networking based on swipable cards was preferred to listings. Our app redesign would be our MVP and would be tested in real situation.

Our second challenge was to think our app creation process. We needed to figure out how to make UI modifications dynamically implemented. I also needed to find a defined and reusable structure to my documents and deliverables.  
The userflow for the search feature
Building an efficient search to benefit networking.
Solutions: User Flows
We stripped the whole app to keep only unremovable features. It was all about networking.

We had a page dedicated to event information in the first version. Based on the customers' insight our marketing team provided, I adapted it to meet their needs.

We kept swipable card interaction for networking and placed them early on the user flow. We also kept the categorisation system because it provided a filter to user's research. Search was a main focus area because we believed that an efficient search would benefit networking.

Users could sign in with their Linkedin or Facebook account and we knew that the vast majority used Linkedin. To facilitate networking, I proposed to use their past experiences from their Linkedin profiles. This plus categories could help users in their decisions.
The design system I created
I established a design system to gain consistency and productivity.
Solutions: Visual adaptability
Clients were running business events. Our marketing team provided some valuable information about attendees profiles. The potential users were mostly between 30 and 50+ years old. We had to make our UI obstacle-free for users that are not tech savvy.

I used native UI for both iOS and Android. No behavior should surprise users. I added big buttons to make the swipe action more comprehensive. This decision also allowed the code to be simpler and lighter.

I structured my files in a way that allowed me to generate customized prototypes in a short amount of time. This became a big asset for our Marketing team during client meetings.

Together with the engieneering team, we set a system of code variables that solved the customisation challenge. I would deliver the client's logo and main color and those variables would apply to topbars, buttons and messages.  
Both iOS and Android native behaviors
I followed both platform's guidelines to adapt to every users.
Outcomes & What I learned
I continued to work on white label apps until I left the company. We never had complaints from users on our app behaviors. Unfortunately the app never really gained attendee's attention. On the bright side, my customized prototypes led to a growth in sales. It sparked the interest of the french national railway company (SNCF) and resulted in a contract.

On a personal level, this project reminded me of the need for simplicity. It was also an important team effort to reinvent both our technical and managerial organisation. I also had to learn in depth iOS native behaviors. I already knew a bit but as an Android user, I had to adapt.

Finally, I learned to use every insight and ressource available to guide my choices, even when information is hard to find.
Credits
  • Sebastien Chambon - Project manager and back-end develoment.
  • Mathieu Le Laouenan - CTO and iOS development
  • William Dubail - Android development.

Next project

Rethinking Sphere's administration dashboard