Prioritizing safety in the virtual celebration in mankind's creative heritage
“It’s Tumblr Mom, it’s not a phase” (it was). “Have you seen Yuumei’s new OC? She’s my favorite Deviant!” (oh, we know). Sound familiar? All my fellow Y2K children would understand, you know who you are.
As creative coach Michele Jennae would say:
“Networking is not about just connecting people. It’s about connecting people with people, people with ideas, and people with opportunities.”
Online social networking platforms for artists and aesthetic journalists have been around for creatives to foster communities. But as fulfilling as a community and one’s sense of belonging may be, fostering an online presence is not always easy as the risk of unwanted attention and cyberbullying almost always comes with it.
Conceptual project for Moleskine
Austin Kang (Design Lead)
Francez Urmatan (UXR Co-Lead)
UX Research Co-lead | UX designer
Jul 2022 | 2 week sprint
Integrate Moleskin's Smart Notebook Technology to create a custom social networking experience for artists, journalists, and other Moleskine users that may want to publicly or anonymously share their work.
A niche social media platform exclusively for artists/journalists that allows in-app sharing for community building and extensive safety measures (comprehensive onboarding, comment filters) to aid in the safety of the overall experience.
denoting a traditional brand or product regarded as emblematic of fine craftsmanship
Given our conceptual design challenge and Moleskine’s branding, I decided on the name Heritage to represent our mission:
bring our users the liberty to freely express their branding, and foster a niche community on the basis of a collective appreciation for the creative craftsmanship of all artists and journalists
Getting to know our users
We held 5 creatives hostage to gain some insight into their experiences with sharing their works online.
Synthesizing the interview insights to the most prominent trends, here is what our users had to say:
1. Sharing is how communities are built:
I find a strong sense of community on my online platforms and gain support from my followers that find me via in-app sharing functions.
3 out of 5 users stressed the importance of in-app sharing functions for successful networking.
2. A larger network shouldn't come at the price of online safety:
I want to be in a space where I won’t have to deal with harassment from random people that find my account on mainstream media sites.
Users reported experiencing less cyberbullying from niche, art-oriented websites compared to mainstream media sites like Twitter and Tumblr.
3. There doesn't always have to be a lesson learned (it's not that deep):
I believe that there’s a time and place for constructive critique, but I don’t always want to see it on my shared works since I’m posting them for fun.
Users desire positive reinforcement and encouragement from the members of their community, not judgment from random people.
Getting to know the industry
Competitive & Comparative Analysis
A feature inventory of our competitors
Competitors lack the 3 key safety features that our users desire:
Muting certain/offensive words
The option for users to make their profiles public or private
Examining the in-app sharing/posting, comment moderation, and anonymous activity in our comparators, I found that:
Anonymous posting and comment options aren't an option
In-app sharing is possible in all 3 platforms
There are no ways to completely disable or moderate the comments section
With this, we decided to implement an in-app sharing function and customizable comment settings to make Heritage a stand-out platform where communities could be easily built in a safe way.
A personification of the user base
The Emotional Rollercoaster
The User's Journey Map
Due to the amount of toxicity in online spaces, creatives want to find a safe and supportive platform where they can share their art and cultivate a community without the fear of receiving unwanted hate or criticism.
The End Goal?
With a clearer understanding of the user’s needs, we redirected our focus from designing for the Smart Notebook to designing the foundations of a safe and inviting platform all Moleskine and non-Moleskine users can comfortably build communities.
Now to ask the real questions:
How might we place an emphasis on the user's safety and privacy as a part of the application's branding?
How might we cultivate a safe space for artists to share their work without receiving unwanted criticism?
How might we make networking more accessible and increase the user's exposure within the community?
Ideating the Solution
Rough UI sketches and low-fidelity wireframes on Figma to establish the foundations of our solution.
Prototyping and Validation
With 3 more iterations and 2 rounds of testing, we arrived at our final, clickable prototype.
We tested our mid-fidelity prototype with 5 individuals and our high-fidelity prototype with 4 individuals, and below are the mockups of the design iterations including the results from our usability tests.
How might we place an emphasis on the user’s safety and privacy as a part of the application’s branding?
Design Solution: Non-skippable, but concise onboarding screens that prompts the users to read the detailed community guidelines and standout features unique to Heritage.
How might we cultivate a safer space for artists to share their art without receiving unnecessary feedback?
Design Solution: Comment settings that users can customize for each post.
How might we implement a sharing function within the app to increase the user’s exposure and make networking more accessible?
Design Solution: Explaining how in-app sharing works in a non-skippable onboarding screen, making the function intuitive by using familiar icons that operate similarly to in-app sharing in other well-known platforms.
At the end of it all, we were successful in taking in user feedback and iterating on our designs to bring forth a more satisfying product.
(Press 'R' to start the prototype from the beginning)
All right, that's cool. What's next?
Now at the end of this journey, I’d say it’s all looking pretty good so far. However, there are still remaining opportunities to bring Heritage to the next level, and the following are the ones I am considering for the next and upcoming features:
When starting out this project, I came in with a very simple-minded approach. “A social networking app for artists and journalists. A love child of some sort between Instagram and Tumblr, right? Seems straightforward, right?”. (Hah, you really thought.)
With the amount of media that we consume on a daily basis, it’s easy to take the creative artistry of others for granted. I often find myself guilty of scrolling past an elaborate illustration or a meticulously decorated bullet journal spread without much more than a fleeting appreciation. However, I have learned throughout this process that the act of putting these works out to the world holds a much deeper meaning, as the act of posting (in itself) is a risk the creatives choose to endure for the sake of their community and their own sense of belonging. Putting a piece of yourself out to the world leaves you vulnerable, and is never easy.
My job as a designer is not only limited to delivering clean aesthetics and functionality, or even just user satisfaction. It’s about letting your users teach you from perspectives you never would’ve considered, and seizing that opportunity to create a space where communities can flourish to make a serious impact on a person's happiness and sense of safety (a pretty powerful opportunity, isn’t it? 😉).