GG (Gadu Gadu), since 2000 has been the most popular free Polish instant messenger which allows communicating by text, video and audio messages. The application also gives its users access to a virtual disk, and in addition, allows you to transfer all kinds of files over the Internet, as well as play videos from YouTube. It has over 15 million registered accounts and approximately 6.5 million users online daily.
As a junior UX designer my key responsibility was to test the product, its functionality and indicate bugs and difficulties while using GG Messenger. Thereafter, in collaboration with the product development team, my job was to develop solutions, provide functional prototypes, mockups and specifications.
The primary task of every messenger is to allow its users to communicate. Unfortunately, as you cannot easily find your contacts, the app is useless.
Through the heuristic evaluation conducted within the product development team, we discovered that the case was even more complex and primarily caused by the product’s privacy policies. First of all, during the last ten years, GG allowed its users to create an account without setting a unique nickname and providing personal information. ID numbers were given to users only. Although “public catalogue” allowed to filter results using several kinds of information like name, age, location etc., search results were highly inaccurate. Thus, to find a contact effectively, one had to know someone’s number. Moreover, the personas research indicated a significant group of users who through anonymity guaranteed by GG used it as a dating platform.
As the results highlighted that we need to prioritize the ‘public catalogue’ issue we decided to simplify the process of searching and adding new contacts through clarifying User Interface as well as improving the traffic within the app. Also, in regard to users who used to use the messenger as a dating service we considered implementation of gamification techniques to enhance the process and make it easier and fun.
My earliest design challenge was to propose how we would change the button labels to make them more understandable and readable. Taking this into consideration, the overall benchmark of competitive applications was made. The solution was to implement the most popular labels describing common functionalities and tabs.
Next phase was to simplify and improve the contact search engine. In order to do so, we deleted the statistically poorly used options and extended search up to email and phone numbers (on mobile platforms). As the extra data had to be collected, the pop-up screens and windows requesting additional information, as well as other notifications, were designed to motivate users to share their personal information.
The last step was to enhance traffic and user interaction within the app. We decided to implement some gamification technique enabling users to find chat buddies. This was an answer to both user groups – the one who used the messenger properly and those who sought dating opportunities. The functionality called „Shaker”, a combination of popular “Tinder” and “Chat Roulette”, simply improved traffic and user participation within GG.
The most important issue was working on an existing product. Thus, all of the new functionalities had to be designed, prototyped and tested with regard to the current User Interface and functions, avoiding possible issues and bugs. Then, as the messenger was available on several Operating Systems (Windows, iOS, Android, BlackBerry), the graphic UI was developed bearing in mind the particular design rules and standards.