One of the design decisions made for Strangers for Dinner is that we wanted it to fit into the lives of busy people. It was a heavily biased design solution — everyone working at Pressyo lead very busy lives, given that all of us have at least one day job. So from the get go, we made a conscious decision to kick the users out of the site as soon as possible.
Designing the User Flow
Designing the user flow was easy. Strangers for Dinner has a pretty basic user flow:
- The user fills out all relevant information, and waits for potential matches.
- The user is then notified of the potential matches, and ranks them to her interests.
- At the end of the month, matches are created, and the user is notified of her matches.
- She then communicates with the users about when and where the dinner party will be
- She then attends/hosts the dinner party
Step 1 is what developers call a basic CRUD application – CRUD stands for Create Read Update Delete – and they’re generally quite easy to create. And because it’s rather basic, this means a very minimal user interface.
CRUD user flow
Step 1 can be further broken into various user flows, one that is better represented with a graph as below:
You might want to note that “User Done” is the target. Our aim is to get the users to User Done as soon as possible. One way would be to provide as many pathways to it as possible — and that’s precisely what we did.
UX Guiding User Flow
Your typical basic CRUD apps, in its simplest form, is just a bunch of forms. If you look at applications designed in the early 1990s, most CRUD apps are indeed just a bunch of fields for users to fill in. Having a bunch of input intimidates a user. It wasn’t very user friendly.
Then in the late ’90s some UX genius came up with the ideas of wizards. The idea was that if a bank of forms intimidate users, maybe a step-by-step approach will ease users into filling in forms. It worked. And soon, wizards were everywhere.
The downside about wizards is that it took users longer to fill out forms. Our goal was to get users to finish their task (i.e. fill out the relevant information) as fast as possible. A wizard would impede progress. The user flow diagram above would be a lot larger had we gone with the wizard path. To solve this problem we came up with two nifty solutions — give the users as little as possible to fill up and; we also took a cue from recent computer games like Fallout and Mass Effect, where players are able to choose what they want to do in whatever sequence they want to do it. The dashboard was born.
In the following posts, I’ll talk about the dashboard, UX and more about our design decisions and solutions.