Adelance - Startup MobileApp

Context

More and more people feel lonely and have problems with creating real life connections, not to mention relationships. The latter is especially problematic for people over 40 who are not that familiar with dating apps or are exhausted with endless failed first dates. What can we do to ease that pain?

My role: Product Designer

Task: Design a mobile app supporting the business

Solution

A real life social dance studio with a companion app. Dancing classes and evening parties cover the first date awkwardness. Dancing partners change every few minutes and if you liked someone, you can tell them in person or if you are shy and fear rejection, you can use the app to build your social network. The person you like will know that you wanted to connect only if they liked you back.

Source: Adelance.com

This is not a fitness class, this is not a dancing school, this is a social dancing event.

Uncovering the Unknown

Workshops

The project started as a dream. The founder is a great tango enthusiast who observed that people no longer go out to simply enjoy other people’s company. Social meetings are all upside down: first you find someone on-line, talk for a while and then meet just to find out “that is not it!”. What if we reverse that again? What if we meet first (but without the first date stress), decide if we liked each other (but without hurting anyone’s feelings) and only if we have a match exchange contact details (but without speed-dating awkwardness)?

As you can see, the challenge of finding real-life and in-app solutions was real. I sat down with the founder and development team (of course, already hired and somewhat working on this startup) and had a series of workshops, discussions and homework resulting in a coherent vision backed by market and competition research.

Research

Since the major audience was Spanish speaking and I do not speak Spanish, the founder took on himself the role of on-site researcher. He interviewed potential clients, tango teachers and people who already organize other social events. I held remote interviews with younger crowd and dance teachers.

As a result, we crafted user stories, personas and the role of the app in the brick-and-mortar business.

Biggest takeouts

  • People DO feel lonely and are all in for a social activity (especially after COVID)
  • Other dance schools have a problem with having an equal number of men and women
  • People are less into tango and more into salsa and bachata
  • Girls do not want to be stuck with one partner through the entire evening
  •  Having fun is more important than learning a new skill, but no one wants to make a fool of themselves
  • The app has to work on both: mobile and PC (important for the older crowd)
  •  We need a separate app for administration and separate for the clients

Shaping Process

Ideation Workshops

Our ideation workshops seamlessly blended remote collaboration and an in-person meeting in Madrid. We gathered with the founder, dance teachers, marketing specialist, and developers to generate innovative ideas. Leveraging virtual tools, we extended the brainstorming process beyond physical boundaries, fostering continuous creativity. 

User Flows & User Stories

Translating the vision from loose notes and documents into user stories and user flows was a must to keep in sync with all the stakeholders.

Top level user flow

User flows evolved through multiple precision stages, like a masterpiece taking shape. Starting with rough sketches, we gradually added detail, refining and perfecting each step. It was an iterative process, resulting in flows that provided a seamless and delightful user experience.

In-detail user flow for registration process

Prototyping & Testing

Prototyping

It all began with paper. It’s my go-to tool whenever I embark on a new project. It’s the fastest and most distraction-free wireframing tool that exists.

From there, I transitioned to mid-fidelity prototypes in Axure before ultimately switching to Figma.

Figma has become my favorite design tool. While it may not have the same extensive prototyping capabilities as Axure, its collaboration features are unparalleled. Thanks to Figma, I was able to enjoy smooth collaboration with a UI Designer and UX Writer, making the design process a truly delightful experience.

In the end, the project comprised:

  • a mobile web app for clients,
  • a mobile app for teachers,
  • a web app for administration,
  • a marketing website.

To ensure seamless integration among these components, I created a design system that was embraced not only by developers and designers but also by the marketing team. It served as a shared foundation, promoting consistency and efficiency throughout the entire project.

Learning by Doing AKA Testing

In this project, we kept our prototype testing sessions short and sweet. We took a simultaneous approach to development and design right from the start. And guess what? Initially, we leveraged a web-based app, so tweaking the live version didn’t demand constant updates to the mobile app.

Thanks to this clever setup, we had a fantastic chance to truly learn by doing and promptly respond to our clients’ ever-changing demands on a daily basis.

Developing & Pivoting

In this project, designing and developing were never separate processes. Live events, new feedback from clients, design changes and development always happened simultaneously.

This was a fantastic mixture of flowing feedback, business experiments and project ideas changing not on sprint, but on daily basis! One of the challenges was also the fact that the design-development team is remote and English speaking, and the clients and the app are fully Spanish. But there is no challenge we couldn’t tackle. Everything was changing very dynamically – even the dance style and business name.

Biggest design challenge?

Taking the VISION of the product into account while juggling numerous options and opportunities was no walk in the park. Striving to design a more modest version that still encompassed all the possibilities was a challenge. The initial design was already scaled down to a humble MVP, yet even that proved to be too ambitious in reality. Design moves at lightning speed compared to development. What may appear as a quick and simple change in the design often translates into weeks of development work, leaving the designer to adapt on the fly. Thankfully, being flexible and speaking the same language as developers was a true blessing in this project.

In a flow of development and pivoting, we even had an opportunity to try the service out ourselves, gaining first-hand experience.

Working App and Website

The website, the app and the business were fully functional for two years. The studio in Madrid and the startup went through further pivots dictated by clients’ demands and changing market.

Takeaways

The pace of work in a startup differs greatly from that of an established product in the market. While I’m unsure which one I prefer, what I can say for certain is that working on this project was an exhilarating adventure!

What would I do differently next time? 

When working on a project from scratch, I would aim to be more involved in the research and discovery phase. In the later stages of the product, I had the opportunity to collaborate with Spanish-speaking customer support representatives and conduct small user surveys and tests. However, in the initial phases, it was challenging to fully trust the research results, as they were delivered by someone who was strongly driven to make the project succeed at any cost who already had a precise vision in mind. Moving forward, I recognize the importance of being assertive and advocating for the precise definition of the user base and their specific needs.

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