MŌN (pronounced moan) is a sex-positive social audio app that launched on the premise of creating rooms for people to talk about all things sex, relationships, and kink.
While the initial premise has seen great success, the CEO wants to add a feature that lets users post a short audio recording, which they are calling MŌN memos.
The goal from the business perspective is to increase engagement, community, and user retention on the platform. Our challenge from the design perspective is to make sure that this feature is actually going to address user needs, and that its design continues to prioritize the values that the community has established.
Role: User Research and Content Strategy Lead
Team: Five person team, reporting to CEO and CTO
Scope: Two-week sprint, original ground-up design of a social posting feature for user-generated audio clips
We wanted to make sure that consent and safety were not only a part of how we designed the feature interface, but how we conducted our user research, how we approached content strategy, and how we designed the social dynamics that would come with this feature.
When deciding on research strategies, we knew that we would need to be considerate of privacy when asking users about such a sensitive subject and using that research to design our feature. To this end, we focused on leveraging the trust that the founder had built with the active communities on the app and anonymous surveys.
Because we already knew the feature we would be designing from the outset, our research was less focused on finding and solving a user problem, and more about making sure that our design and implementation of that feature would best serve the users. We needed to understand the user both from a practical, and a social perspective, to make sure we were designing a memo feature with the needs of this specific community in mind.
Once we had a list of the common features from audio and video posting in other apps, and a sense of the wants and needs of the community, we decided that the best way to move forward was by understanding when and how MŌN users would be using this feature. Through understanding their stories, we found key opportunities to put the user first in our designs.
After we compiled our competitor analysis, our group feedback, and our user journeys, we did a simple feature prioritization matrix to determine what was most important to focus on.
When we started the project, the founder presented us with an initial design mockup of how memos might be integrated. In his design, memos, rooms, and podcasts all existed as horizontal carousels on a single home screen. But as we were ideating, we realized it might be more intuitive for each type of content to have its own page.
But we wanted to validate this assumption, so we made some quick mock ups in and ran A/B tests with a handful of tasks. The results spoke for themselves. The multi-page approach was immediately more intuitive, and made users feel more confident.
We wanted to keep the memo creation process simple. Recordings stitch together, with intuitive options to delete a section and rerecord. Categories for metadata are simple and clearly labeled. Advanced Settings allow creators to control the way that other users can interact with their content.
We took a “TikTok” full screen, vertical scroll approach to the presentation of the memos. One of our main challenges was addressing the lack of visual content to fill the screen- but expanding the user profile and adding a pulsing purple light behind actually helped us reconsider and hone in our design for the metadata and interactions below.
In designing the three homepages, our primary goal was that the user should be able to clearly identify and differentiate the kind of content they are engaging with. To accomplish this, we designed each type of content to have its own unique card style and metadata presentation, while using similar content display structures to help the app feel cohesive.
Finally, we wanted to go back and redesign the pages with secondary function to the content. The new search page incorporates all three types of content, as well as featured users, and can become a hub for discoverability on the app. And the new profile page gives users a chance to highlight their memos and upcoming rooms.
One of the things we wanted to test, but didn’t have time for, is the effectiveness of the icons and language we used in the redesign. Since memos and rooms as features are not common primary functionality in social media apps, our choices were best guesses, pulled from UI Kits and analogous examples, but ultimately unvalidated.
We also want to reconsider and test the effectiveness of the language around audio replies. In a quick last minute usability test, we discovered that some folks struggle with the frequency of the word “Reply” on the page, when trying to reply to the original post. Ultimately, we decided that we didn’t have time to address the issue in our final designs, but we did share our findings with the team for future considerations.
What a weird and wonderful project! We got to learn from so many interesting people, and it was a real challenge to approach research where interviews weren’t really an option. As such, we had to work to make sure every form of user data we could acquire was as rich as possible.
Additionally, the research synthesis threw us a real curveball. As we were piecing together some possible personas and thinking about problem statements, we realized that there wasn’t really a way for us to write a problem statement.
UX research without a problem statement!?
We already knew the feature we were designing for, so a problem statement wasn’t really an effective bridge between our users and our design. It didn’t really teach us anything important. Rather, the user journeys became that bridge for us, helping us understand where our designs could meet and serve the users.
At the end of the day, the problem statement, just like everything in the UX tool kit, is just that- a tool.
If the tool doesn’t fit the job, use a different tool.