Our research concluded that the bell curve of our target audience was early teens to late twenties, skewing female. As far as content focus, Horror and Romance were the two category leaders by far with Fandom coming in third.
Research also led me to believe that the ability for our users to create their own stories might be a solid differentiator. A place for story writers of any ability to craft their own stories and get feedback from an audience of their peers.
This thought process led us to explore a future capability of paying our top authors for their content, hopefully creating a positive feedback loop to encourage high-quality, ongoing content as well as a magnet for better authors to write for our platform.
Post competitive review, my initial design exploration was an extraction of the app elements I felt would best help our users find and digest content. This is often a time-efficient way of getting early feedback.
After several rounds of whiteboard based wireframing, I created our first prototype user experience. I conducted some friends and family in person reviews and while feedback was generally positive, I felt the responses indicated a ‘satisfactory’ experience.
I wanted to do better than that, to potentially make viewing fun and enjoyable, eventually habitual.
I also needed to tackle the challenge of a relatively small initial story catalog that eventually would grow to an expansive base of content across many categories and, potentially, in differing formats such as traditional stories, interactive decision-based ‘choose your own adventure’, audio, and video.
After running an app naming session using a word matrix, we ended up with the name chat candy as a play on sweet story bites, something we felt would resonate with our audience. A survey of a 100 or so people confirmed the choice.
I made a candy themed chat bubble as the logo with a bold Gotham font. A simple no-registration onboarding offered a choice of the top two story categories which led to a predetermined staff-writer written story as a first reading experience.
Logo and splash screen explorations with colour, fonts, and style
For content discovery, a search bar, a sliding category filter that can expand horizontally, and a browse experience as our initial research candidate. Two versions:
Feedback from the first prototype
I went back to the drawing board and working with the Product Manager and the Engineering team came up with a new experience:
Folding in the feedback and our own aspirations for a compelling and engaging experience, I made the following changes:
From the flow diagram I created new designs:
I then created a simple prototype in Marvel to use to gather feedback.
I then added overlays to the tail end of the onboarding flow that first guides the user to swipe up for the next story cover and then to tap on that story to read the story.
When I retested with users that had been confused before, they all agreed that this would have remedied their confusion.
While this is a positive reaction, I was aware that these users had already mastered navigation so this wasn’t necessarily concrete proof of an adequate resolution. I ran a small friends and family test with fresh users specifically targeting these elements and found it to no longer be an issue, at least at a small scale.
I spent some time experimenting with hybrid chat and candy icons but ultimately ended up with a text styling appropriate for the teenage target audience.
I created images for the app store In the same teen focused style.
Chat Candy MVP was launched and is available on the Apple app store. Users have been climbing steadily and some are subscribing.
Authors have been using the story writer without any meaningful challenges. The majority of stories created have been of surprisingly high quality. Over the last few months we’ve observed user behaviour and the next set of revisions are in discussions.