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Connect with like-minded neighbours with Don't Say Bojio

To support a close-knit community, we spearheaded the transformation of Mobile@HDB to optimise its mobile platform, amplify its value of driving community engagements & build the 'kampung spirit'.

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Duration

4 weeks (July - August 2022)

My Role

User research

Comparative & competitive analysis

User interviews

Design Studio

Usability testing

Design iteration

I led a team of 4 UXDs in developing prototypes and branding using Figma and Adobe Illustrator.

Deliverables

We developed a high-fidelity prototype that envisions a safe digital space - by fostering connections between residents with shared interests.

Project background

Mobile@HDB app presents a fantastic opportunity to enhance the resident experience by leveraging the unique capabilities of mobile technology. While the app currently offers functionalities mirrored on the HDB website, further development can unlock its full potential. By focusing on features that capitalize on mobile strengths – such as location services, digital maps, and seamless login integration – the app can evolve into a user-friendly and indispensable tool for residents.

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Project considerations

HDB's 2018 Sample Household Survey revealed a significant shift in resident interactions. The survey indicated a 24.8% decrease in low-intensity neighbourly interactions (greetings, casual conversations), while effortful interactions (visits, problem-solving) remained moderate at 52%. Interestingly, the survey also highlighted a 7% increase in neighbourly conversations via group chats, suggesting a growing preference for digital communication.

This trend presents a valuable opportunity for the Mobile@HDB app to be more prominent in fostering community building. By aligning with HDB's digital roadmap and community engagement goals, the app can evolve to support these changing resident preferences.

Uncovering barriers to deep connections among HDB residents

To uncover the reasons behind the decline in deep interactions among HDB residents, we employed a multifaceted research approach, diving into resident motivations, frustrations, and the wider community context.

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Participatory research at a community-led event by Friendzone

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Gathering general public sentiments through a survey

We conducted a Google survey with a diverse group of 103 HDB residents to understand their attitudes towards deeper neighbour interactions and identify any obstacles they face in connecting with neighbours.

Our user interview discussion plans

Understanding resident needs was key. We conducted user interviews to identify resident personas and their behaviour patterns. This included uncovering their concerns, motivations, and preferred methods for connecting with neighbours. To ensure a diverse and representative sample, we recruited 7 users for our research.

Questions

1. Do you use existing community apps to enhance your interactions?

2. Tell me about a neighbour(s) you liked & dislike.

3. Do you attend community-led activities in your neighbourhood?

Gathered insights through affinity mapping

Through a process called affinity mapping, we organized the insights from these interviews. This helped us identify recurring themes and prioritize our ideas for the app based on resident needs.

6 out of 7 residents interviewed expressed a genuine interest in deeper interactions with their neighbours.

Graduate student, 22

"I’m envious of people who have very close relationships with their neighbours, like those who frequent home visits and keep their front doors open."

Student, 15

“I'm shy and awkward to make conversations or take friendship to the next level.”

Young mother, 30

“I’d like to know people around the area and get support especially from other young families.”

Fitness coach, 42

"Having opportunities to identify commonalities with neighbours will motivate me to form deeper connections with my neighbours."

Fitness trainer, 30

“I can't find common talking points with my neighbours and hence prefer not to interact with each other regularly.”

Key insights from user interviews

Residents seek deeper connections and are looking to build stronger bonds with their neighbours.

Neighbours who share interests naturally connect through shared experiences.

There's a chance to increase resident engagement by providing ways to connect that feel comfortable and familiar.

Residents need a way to
(1) deepen relationships (2)identify common interests (3)overcome awkwardness 
so that they can build a sense of community & solidarity.

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Framing the problem

Through brainstorming, we generated eight "How Might We" statements to address resident connections within the HDB community.

 

To prioritize the most impactful solutions, we employed a Decision Matrix, assigning Yes/No based on their potential to align with each of HDB's community-building goals. This process helped us refine our focus and select the three most promising HMW statements for further exploration.

How might we facilitate residents discovering and connecting with neighbors who share their interests?

How might we create a platform within the HDB app that facilitates low-pressure interactions, easing residents into conversations with neighbours?

How might we bridge the gap between HDB's physical community spaces and the digital app to enhance the resident experience?

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Passive Peter

(Secondary persona who represents the majority)

"I want to step out of my comfort zone to meet new people and exchange interesting stories."

Goals

Yearns to connect with like-minded neighbours to build meaningful & lasting relationships.

Needs

To a way to connect with his neighbors virtually in a comfortable and familiar way.

Pain Points

Peter is reserved and spends most of his time online. He desires closer connections with his neighbours but finds in-person interactions challenging. He prefers to initiate these connections virtually.

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Proactive Amanda

(Primary persona who drives interactions)

"I'm a people person, I love mingling and getting out in the world. I’m seeking to get closer to neighbours."

Personality Strengths

Amanda is extraverted, spontaneous and outdoorsy. She enjoys making new friends who share her interests.

Goals

She wants to form a close-knit cycling community within her neighbourhood & organise meet-ups.

Needs

A way to connect with like-minded individuals to pursue common interests, share knowledge and learn new skills.

Competitive & Comparative Analysis

Comparative and competitive analyses

To understand best practices, we researched existing solutions. Three stood out: Friendzone for its focus on fostering personal connections, Goodhood for its success in neighborhood engagement, and CMB for its well-regarded matching algorithm.

Ideation process

The team generated a wealth of ideas for the HDB app through a three-part process. In the first session, a design sprint using the "Crazy 8" technique yielded a rich harvest of 18 promising features. The second session focused on refining these ideas. To prioritize the most impactful features for app success, the team employed a Decision Matrix for evaluation.

To foster a shared understanding of spontaneous interactions, I introduced the concept of a 'Spontaneous Playground,' which effectively aligned the team towards creative exploration.

Utilizing a Decision Matrix, we systematically evaluated our extensive pool of ideas, ultimately identifying the top 3 most promising concepts.

We felt that Option 1 and 2 fell within our scope and timeline, hence we removed Option 3. 

Crafting the key user flows

 

Building on user flows, we explored how different user types might interact within the app. Our brainstorming focused on understanding how a proactive user, like Amanda, might initiate conversations, potentially encouraging a more passive user, like Peter, to engage.

Flow 1: Peter connects with a friend of similar interests

Step 1: Meet Kakis

Peter joins the app and shares his interests during the onboarding process. The app then uses this information to suggest potential connections. Peter finds a match with Amanda, a neighbor from the next block who also enjoys sports!

Step 2: In-chat activity feature called TCSS.

A smooth conversation starter within the app kept Peter's chat with Amanda flowing naturally.

Step 3: In-chat event suggestion

After an initial conversation, the app suggests activities they both enjoy. Peter can choose to share this suggestion with Amanda at his own pace. As their friendship builds, the app might even recommend events that Peter might now feel comfortable attending.

Flow 2: Amanda creates a community event

Step 1: Create an event

An avid cyclist, Amanda, who belongs to the 'Singapore Foldies' group, leverages the app's Event Creation feature to connect with fellow cycling enthusiasts in her neighbourhood.

Step 2: Event group chats

The event's built-in chat allows Amanda to connect and share details with other residents planning to join the cycling ride.

Step 3: Start a conversation

The app facilitates deeper connections within the event. Amanda can tap on attendee Profiles to see a glimpse of their interests and initiate chats based on those shared passions.

Developed the brand identity

To foster a welcoming and inclusive digital space for the adiverse community, I prioritized design elements that evoke a sense of belonging. A carefully curated colour palette featuring pastel pink, turquoise, and yellow radiates friendliness and happiness, reflecting the spirit of friendship within the community.

Additionally, the rounded Nunito font conveys warmth and openness, further emphasizing a welcoming atmosphere for all users to feel seen and connected.

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Prototypes of the key user flows

 

To streamline our initial prototyping phase, we collaboratively developed a workflow. This guided us as we divided the low-fidelity wireframe creation among four team members. Subsequently, we formed two teams: one focused on the high-fidelity prototype, and the other on crafting the storytelling flow. All members conducted usability testing and participated in problem solving prior to iteration.

Flow 1: Peter connects with a friend of similar interests

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Flow 2: Amanda creates a community event

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Usability testing discussion plan to evaluate the app's effectiveness

Five digitally savvy participants, aged 15-64, explored the app's core features: the "Don't Say Bojio" homepage, in-chat activity suggestions (TCSS), conversation starters, and event suggestions.

 

Through qualitative analysis of their feedback, we assessed their perception of the app's concept, look & feel, and it's potential to encourage meaningful connections with neighbours.

On initial perception

What is your first impression of the app's overall look and feel?

On user experience and pain points

How comfortable and confident do you feel using the app to interact with neighbors? Are there any specific aspects of the interaction experience you find frustrating or could be improved?

On the Conversation Starters feature

After using the feature, do you feel it provides a natural way to break the ice with a neighbor? Why or why not?

Imagine a scenario

If you could create any event or activity, without limitations, what would it be?

Low-fidelity prototype

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Onboarding

Our insights from UT

Through user testing sessions with 5 HDB residents, we explored how residents interact with the app's functionalities.

 

 By analysing user feedback, we aimed to identify areas for improvement and optimize the app's effectiveness in fostering meaningful neighbourly interactions.

Our learnings about language accessibility

Participant

"English isn't my strongest suit, so I sometimes hesitate to join deep conversations because I'm afraid of misunderstandings."

Language barriers hinder deep connections. To address this, future app iterations should offer onboarding language selection and prioritize matching users based on their preferred reading/writing languages.

We tested the Ask Anything Feature

Participant

"I thought the prompt questions under Ask Anything are just references to help me craft my own questions."

While 4 out of 5 of the users found the pre-written conversation starters (cards) helpful, they also expressed a desire to personalize them with their own words for a more natural feel.

 

Our solution

We implemented a text field. This allows users to edit the message before sending it, providing greater control and flexibility.

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We tested Conversation Starters

"I want to craft my excerpt so that I can invite fellow cooking enthusiasts to chat with me. I would write 'I'm a curry chicken whiz and I'd love to chat and compare recipes with other passionate cooks.' "

Participant

While 80% of users find conversation starters helpful in finding conversation topics, one user preferred others to initiate conversations based on her interests.

Our solution

This suggests potential value in allowing users to customize conversation starters to prompt incoming chats on preferred topics, potentially reducing the effort needed to initiate conversations.

Improving usability to help users achieve tasks quickly

"When I clicked on a user's icon, a Profile Preview pop-up surprised me. I felt that it was a redundant step to get me to that user's Profile page."

Participant

Our solution

Prioritizing speed, we removed Profile Previews to streamline task completion.

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How desirable is the app to residents we've interviewed?

User testing yielded positive results, with all 5 participants expressing interest in using the app to connect with neighbours. Encouraged by this strong desire to build connections, we wish to conduct further testing with a wider user base to refine the app's potential.

 

While initially developed for HDB, we believe this solution aligns with the goals of Silver Generation SG or the Singapore Kindness Movement, promoting community connections. We look forward (one day) to presenting our comprehensive findings to these entities.

“Use of Singlish reflects the casual tone used in neighbourly interactions.”

Wei Xin

“The colourful cartoon characters are good representation of the diverse HDB community.” 

Jeremiah

“I like that the app asks for my preferences so that it can suggest like-minded people that I can connect with.”

Sally

“I am keen to meet new people for meals so that we can bond over food”.

Raj

Iterated high-fidelity prototype

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