Questions provides users with a fun way to start conversations with people they’ve just met.
My role was to provide rapid UX/UI design and prototyping for Questions, so it could be used as an ice breaker at our Design Week Portland open house event.
Have you ever walked into a situation where you’re meeting people for the first time, but you don’t know how to start a meaningful conversation? We’ve all been there. Since POW Interactive happened to be hosting an event just like this for Design Week Portland, we decided to build an app that would help people break the ice, while also showcasing our team’s creativity. Part of being a good UX designer is asking the right questions. Some of those questions may even lead to discoveries that help shape the experience and design of a product. In this case however, the right questions helped bring people together through fun and eccentric questions that helped people get to know each other.
People are generally a bit intimidated at the prospect of starting a conversation with someone they don’t know. Even though a lot of the time they have more in common than they think.
The best way to get to know someone is to learn something about them that makes them unique, but often times we stick the usual line of questions about where people are from and what they do for work.
A large part of what we do at POW Interactive is user experience design. UX design requires creativity and the bravery to ask tough questions that will guide the design of a product. Showing people that we can approach any situation with design thinking and great question asking will make them think POW next time they need UX services.
Build a working prototype with a set of pre-loaded ice breaker questions that people people can use at the event and take with them.
Design an interactive in-person experience around the app to facilitate conversation at the open house event.
Drive new client work and employee applications for POW Interactive.
The Question app needed to be simple enough that anyone could download the prototype and use it with little to no instruction. Knowing that users may open the app for the first time outside of our open house, I designed a quick instructional flow with the goal of explaining who POW is, our connection to interaction design, and how to use the app. Small chunks of copy paired with fun illustrations set the tone for the rest of the experience, and the questions to follow.
After viewing the instructions, users would begin their experience using the app from the menu. The goal was to create a single destination for users where they could begin their experience by selecting a question to ask from one of the categories, learn more about POW Interactive, or get back to the instructions on how to use the app.
The questions were divided into categories so that users could quickly sift through the questions at their disposal, while maintaining the freedom to curate their own interaction experience. For example, some users chose a more traditional path of starting with a questions from the Intros section, and then proceeding into other categories, while others would select something more random to ask first and then see where the conversation took them.
Because this menu served as the hub for the entire experience, access was built into every screen in the form of a floating action button. Users could select the FAB from any location in the app to open this menu.
Once the experience of the app was designed, it was time to solve for how we would have people interact with the prototype at the open house event. Translating a digital experience into reality can be difficult, but the general interaction of question asking and conversation starting that we were solving for was the same.
As our team was developing questions for the app, we would write them on post-it notes to decide on which questions worked the best. The idea was that any question that was short enough to fit on a single post-it, was also the perfect length for what we were trying to accomplish.
The post-it notes worked as a real world equivalent to the question cards that we were using in the app, and this sparked the idea to create a live version of the app (with a few twists) in our office for the event.
In designing for the in-person experience, we had to solve for a new set of interaction challenges:
By simply writing the questions on post-it notes we would allow users to see all the questions, and choose those that may not push them outside their comfort zone. By writing the questions on the back of the post-its we were able to stick them to the wall while hiding the question. This created a more fun and spontaneous experience as people would walk up, choose a post-it at random, then immediately go ask their question to someone close by.
There was some concern that we could run out of questions, ending the experience entirely. In order to prevent this, we asked for participation from guests to replace a question removed by writing a new question themselves. These audience questions would be shown by different color post-it notes.
We also had to get guests to participate by downloading the app to their phones. Our post-it question wall helped with this by serving as a hub for the question experience. A desktop computer was set up in this area that allowed guests to enter their phone number and receive the prototype via text message.
The 2019 POW open house was one of the best attended events since our company began participating in Design Week Portland. Guests ranging from design students to professionals and even those just looking to meet new people participated in the question experience and downloaded the prototype to their phones by entering their phone numbers at the event.
To get the full experience, check out the Questions prototype by clicking below.