Texting is one of the main forms of communication nowadays. One of the most used messaging platforms is Facebook Messenger. With its customizable features and easy readability, it’s no wonder why it is so popular. But it’s popularity is limited to a certain demographic. I started to notice that college students veered towards other messaging platforms such as Slack and GroupMe for large group convos and away from Facebook Messenger.
When I use Messenger, I want to talk to people in a large group, but I can’t do that because…
- It’s hard to keep track of multiple conversations
- Large groups often have subgroups
- It’s hard to expand groups (include people in groups)
While I did notice the trend of using Slack and GroupMe for classroom related group chats, I was unsure why this was the case. My user research help to clarify the reasons why Slack and GroupMe were preferred over Messenger. My two categories of users were active and non-active users. From my user research I gathered:
- People really liked the variety of reacts that Messenger has
- People did not use the new functions such as sending money, so there were a lot of useless add-ons
- It is hard to find people through Messenger
- It is hard to have huge groups in Messenger (GroupMe is an alternative)
The last point added some insight on why college students rarely used Messenger: it’s hard to use for large groups and strangers.
I started with my people problem, which I slightly revised to: When I use Messenger, it’s difficult/inconvenient to talk to people in large groups. I recruited two classmates, Ryun Shim and Sophia Teng, to help brainstorm ideas to address this problem.
From the brainstorming activity, we came up with three opportunity areas: retrieving/archiving, setting/atmosphere, and staying on topic. In each area, we came up with multiple solution spaces and I ended up choosing personalization, words, and reminders are my top three solution spaces. Individual solutions ranged included: reminders to answer questions, conversation starter questions (badges/awards), color-coded urgent messages, keyword tags, and a feature that suggests important messages.
In the end, I decided to go with keyword tags because it addressed the problem of information not being organized. With tags, information can be sectioned off and grouped together and it is very easily accessible.
What are Keyword Tags?
Because my people problem focuses more on the organization aspect of communication (in large groups), i.e. making Messenger easier to use for group messaging whether it be for a class or for smaller groups, I wanted to implement keyword tags. Messages could be tagged with personalized words, so that users could search for that key information. All of the tags and tagged messages would also be stored in a central location for easy access. The keyword tags would be similar to a folder. In addition, keyword tags could be linked to announcements and conversations in general so that when someone writes the hashtag again, the conversation or media file can be brought up.
This system would be really efficient. For instance, if a student wanted to access a specific homework file or PDF that someone shared on a group chat, they wouldn’t be able to easily access that information because there is no search function for media files. If these files were tagged, then users would be able to find information quickly. Keyword tags also work in terms of smaller group conversations. Let’s say you want to share your Netflix password with someone, so you send it to them in a text. The next time someone wants to look back and find the message again, it’s lost because you don’t remember what message you are even looking for. This new keyword tag feature would allow a user to tag that message (“#NetflixPassword”), and when they need it again, they can search up the password in the tag directory.
Initial Approaches to Keyword Tags: Low Fidelity Explorations
For this new feature, some essential processes and steps I thought about were the location of the tags (where would users access the tags); how to create, edit, and add to tags; and what the tags were going to look like. My first approach to this new feature is explored below in my really rough low-fidelity screen.
Designing for Better Communication: Medium Fidelity
In my visual exploration, I came up with several schemes depicting the entry point (the first location that users would access the tags) and what the tags would look like.
My initial goals were to make the tags as simple as possible. This way, the tags would be more organized and require less energy on the user’s part. I focused on entry and middle points in my medium fidelity designs: where the tags could be seen and how to add to tags. I made six schemes in total, but narrowed my focus on these four screens because they seemed the most promising. My first scheme (1) involved accessing the tags on the homepage. My second scheme (3) involved tags on a group chat’s settings page. My third scheme (5) involved accessing tags on the user’s profile/settings page. Finally, my last scheme (4) is similar to my second scheme, but the tags are located on the group chat page. I decided to make the tags into little bubbles when users were viewing all of their tags together because it followed Messenger’s visuals (seen in scheme 1). In the same vein, if a tag had multiple files within it, a list format would be used similar to the structure of the settings page (seen in scheme 1).
User Testing — Deciding My Final Screen Flow
In my final screen flow, I also included steps where users could edit previously made tags. During user research, the general sentiment was that Messenger is a leader in personalization, so that trait would need to be included in this new feature as well. Adding colors to tag icons also allowed for better organization and easier visibility. Finally, I included an example of a tagged image and conversation just to display what users would see when they re-access information that was tagged. Because images and archived messages are already a feature in Messenger, my tagged messages and images follow Messenger’s layout.
High Fidelity Flow: My Final Design
My final design incorporates all of the goals I set out to achieve in the beginning: a way to create, add, and view tags; the location of the tags, and what the tags were going to look like in a message and when viewing the tags. I designed these steps in order to best address my people problem which was that people found it difficult to use Messenger for large or small group chats, particularly in college, because it was not professional or organized enough. Information could not be sorted that easily/it was hard to keep track of and there was not that much retrieving that could be done. Keyword tags are able to solve this problem because of its simplicity, its inherent organization, and its ability to allow users to access a ton of old information all at once. These traits would be most useful for college students who are in class group chats for the sole purpose of obtaining information quickly and efficiently. But, these feature can also be beneficial to smaller group chats (2 or more people) because media files and arbitrary, yet important information is shared everyday and people constantly want to look back at texts and other messages.
High Fidelity Prototype
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Keyword tags are able to optimize the capabilities of Facebook Messenger, making it more viable for a new audience. Features are continuously improving and changing in order to make apps more user-friendly. My feature can be a way to engage users, while being more organized and efficient when it comes to accessing information.