Duration: 8 weeks (10.21.21-12.16.21)
Type: Group, with classmate María Quevedo
Role: Designer, Researcher
This was the second project I completed in my Major Studio 1A class in the Parsons MPS Communication Design program, working with my classmate María Quevedo, with guidance from professor Clara Bunker.
The challenge was to design a new feature for an existing app, and we designed a feature for Instagram called Activities. Below is a preview of three of its key flows:
1. Creating an event
2. Viewing events on a profile
3. Making a reservation at a restaurant
Everyone in the class came up with a list of apps we were interested in working on, María and I decided to work together based on our apps of interest. We were initially considering the Google Arts + Culture app, but we decided to pick Instagram because both of us have used it extensively and we know many people who use it and have opinions on it, which we thought would make for interesting conversations and user research.
We began by conducting background research on Instagram’s mission, branding, and demographics.
Next, we conducted an audit of Instagram’s existing and past features such as Feed/Posts, Profile Pages, DMs, Shopping, Average Screen Time, Stories, Close Friends, and Business Profiles.
Finally, we conducted an audit of Instagram’s competitors, such as Facebook, TikTok, Twitter, and Snapchat. We researched how each app is positioning themselves, how they are different, and what core features they have that aren’t present in Instagram.
Next, we conducted semi-structured exploratory interviews with 12 interviewees ages 20-27. We began by collecting background information such as their age, location, and occupation.
Then, we moved into questions about their current Instagram usage such as, daily habits, feelings towards Instagram, and their other social media usage.
Finally, we moved towards slightly more targeted questions based on ideas we were starting to develop for the app, asking them about their leisure activities, hobbies, and how they discover them.
We synthesized our interview findings by writing down individual post-its with the most interesting findings from each interview and color-coded them in order to detect trends such as addiction/mental health, why people use Instagram, existing features, suggestions to improve the app, privacy concerns, comments on the algorithm, and lastly how people find events.
Once we were able to visualize these trends, we created an affinity map that allowed us to view our findings in a new way that allowed us to find new trends. For example, we found that two popular uses for Instagram are 1) as a boredom killer and 2) to preserve memories. Combining these findings contributed to our idea of using Instagram as a platform to encourage users to make these memories by doing activities in real life (IRL) that could potentially be suggested by (and later posted on) the app.
The following highlights from our user interviews demonstrate the importance of Instagram for social inclusion, preserving memories, and discovering new things, as well as the importance of taking breaks from the app.
Based on our findings about Instagram's role in social inclusion, preserving memories, discovering new things, and mental health, we came up with the following problem statement:
In class, we did a sketching exercise where we posed our problem statement to our classmates, and they tried to sketch as many ideas for solutions as they could in a few minutes, no matter how crazy.
They helped us come up with a lot of interesting ideas such as Insta Tinder, Calendar Feature, Events through stories, Events/Happening near you, % Activity Matches, Shared Calendars, and a Close Friends Map.
We synthesized these ideas with our research and sketched out possible features and flows, which led to wireframe sketches, which eventually led to our prototype.
To keep the flows consistent with Instagram’s user interface, we decided to model some of the activities flow after the shopping feature, since they would have similarities such as browsing and checking out/reserving.
After we sketched out our wireframes, we created them in Figma. Then, we received feedback on our first prototype from our peers, some on visuals and some on the flows and features. We synthesized this feedback and incorporated it into the high-fidelity prototype.
When users first open the app after the update, a pop-up would alert them to the new Activities tab. For the purposes of this project, we replaced the Reels tab with Activities and would move Reels back to the explore page, since many users told us they rarely use Reels anyways. In reality, this decision would need to be backed up by extensive data and research, of course.
The main Activities page displays activities my category, with the ability to filter and search.
If the user searches for pizza for example, they would be taken to a grid view that displays pizza businesses with their accounts, images, distance, and price, with filtering options as well.
If the user taps the map icon, the display would switch to map view, which would display the businesses as pins surrounding the user's location.
If the user navigates to the concerts section of the Activities page, they are taken to a grid view of concerts with information and filtering by dates, price, location, genre, and more.
When the user taps a card, they are taken to a page that displays more information about the concert such as the venue, images, friends who are going, and the ability to buy tickets.
If the user wishes to buy tickets, they will be taken through a checkout process modeled after Instagram Shopping.
After purchasing tickets, users are taken to a confirmation page that allows them to view their tickets, share to their story that they will be attending the concert, or invite friends.
If the user navigates to the food section of the Activities page, they are taken to a grid view of restaurants with information and filtering by hours, price, location, cuisine, and more.
When the user taps a card, they are taken to a page that displays more information about the restaurant such as the location, images, friends who have been there, and the ability to make a reservation.
If the user wishes to make a reservation, they can select a date, time, and party size.
After making a reservation, users are taken to a confirmation page that allows them to view their reservation, share to their story that they will be going to the restaurant, or send the reservation details to friends.
If the user taps the envelope button on the main Activities page, they will be taken to a list of private events they have been invited to, which will display the host, a cover image, the event name, the number of friends who are going, and the user's RSVP response.
If the user taps the plus button, they can create their own private event, for which they would add a photo, name, date/time, location, and description. They can also choose the privacy setting for the event if they want it to be visible to everyone, just their followers, just close friends, or just invitees.
Event pages display information about the host, date, time, location, and friends who are going. One tab has details about the event, and the other tab has photo posts that are tagged to the event, either leading up to it, during, or after it takes place.
Invitees have the ability to respond as "Going," "Maybe," or "Can't go."
On a user's profile, they can navigate to the location tab to see saved places or saved events. This allows people to share their recommendations and interests with their friends, or to keep a list for themselves.
In their profile settings, users would be able to select whether they want their saved places and events to be visible to the public, their followers, close friends, or just themselves.
Saved places can be viewed from a map view as well as a grid view, and saved events are split by upcoming and past events.
Finally, location tags for posts in the feed or on stories would lead users to the Activities page for that business. This would allow users to view the business's information and more photos tagged to the location, hopefully encouraging them to make IRL plans.
Given more time, we would like to conduct user testing on our prototype to see if users find the flows to be intuitive and the feature to be useful.
There were also several features that came up in ideation that we didn’t get the chance to explore such as % activity friend matches, shared calendars, and close friends maps, which we would love to experiment with.
If we could change the way we carried out the project, would have liked to conduct more targeted interviews, or have a second round of interviews with follow-up questions from the first round in order to get more insights on how users would want this feature to work.
Throughout this process we gained many insights about people’s relationships with social media and the ways it manifests in their lives, both positive and negative. From our research, we learned that users feel Instagram is valuable for social inclusion, preserving memories, entertainment, and discovering new things, but it is important for them to take breaks and avoid spending too much time on their phones.
We also learned how to work together, divide labor and compromise with each other in order to be able to successfully come up with Instagram Activities.
Below is the interactive prototype:
✨ Just for fun ✨
Here is an animation I made in my motion graphics class using After Effects! It's an advertisement of sorts, demonstrating how one might use Instagram Activities (if one were a bouncy ball).
Thank you for reading, and please don't hesitate to reach out with questions!