Personal safety app with a goal to create safer cities for women.
A Swedish start-up Spher which has been slowly evolving since 2019 is on a mission to make safer cities for women a reality.
The Spher app will launch in 2022.
Android flutter, Women empowerment
End-to-end UX and UI design of two main features: location sharing and chat
UX/UI Designers: Myself (Dagija Kugeviciute), Katerina Blazheva, Francesco Fastelli
Jan-May, 2022 (Ongoing)
SPHER STARTED WITH A PROBLEM
According to the statistics, 81% of women feel very or fairly unsafe while walking alone which relates to having experienced harassment on the streets in the past.
I am not surprised. Almost every woman I talked to about it puts a key between her fingers while walking back home alone and makes sure to be hyper aware of her surroundings after dark.
Individuals aged 16-34 who have experienced harrassment in the past
Individuals aged 16-34 who have felt very or fairly unsafe when walking alone after dark
INITIAL PROBLEM VALIDATION
Win 1000 new users per week since app launch in September, 2022.
Empowering women through togetherness - more motivation to keep using the app.
Earn a reputation to acquire 10 new partners (bars/clubs/taxis) that would collaborate with Spher to tackle public safety issues.
Having attracted the first investor it was important to deliver the project by the agreed date.
Due to limited budget not all features can be implemented in version 1.0
Compliance to data privacy standards and security of users should be ensured.
SOLUTION & FUTURE STRATEGY
The long-term goal of Spher as a company is to take a more holistic approach to the public safety issue. However, due to limitations above, Spher Version 1.0 empowers women through togetherness by providing them with access to immediate help from close contacts when walking alone.
Map - Home Screen
Destination input option
Visibility of who is tracking you
Push notifications when friends get home
Quick message for better accessibility
Main chats window
My Spher contact selection
Quick actions within a chat
Accepting location within chat
Sharing location status visibility
WHAT UX METHODS I USED TO DRAW QUALITY ON THE SOLUTION AND WHY?
Method #1: competitive analysis to see where Spher will be heading
The competition has little to NO empowerment aspect
“Safety is your responsibility”
GPS with your circle/Chat
Premium required, evasive
Based on community resilience
Calling nearby guardians
Patronising content to keep safe
Tackles public safety problem
Mark and report unsafe area
GPS with your Guardian
Path bound, limited features
Method #2: user interviews to cater the final product towards their needs
I lacked understanding in future user pains, needs and expectations
Among other things I wanted to know:
What is the experience of women when walking alone after dark? Does it differ by country?
What is women’s experience regarding safety in bars, clubs and taxis?
Are there any specific measures that they take to feel safer?
ANALYSING THE DATA
5 Women (living in Europe)
70+ Data points
2 Types of pains
Women’s pains and needs can be divided into two types
RELATED TO PUBLIC SAFETY IN THE SOCIETY
Often not taken seriously when telling others about being harassed in public places - it happens too often.
RELATED TO KEEPING SAFE
Always ask female friends to inform when they get back home but sometimes friends forget.
When I’m going somewhere new, I would make sure to send the address to my friends or my boyfriend.
- Anonymous woman, NL
WHICH PROBLEM TO PRIORITIZE & HOW TO APPROACH IT?
Balancing user needs with business goals and tech capabilities
Method #3: feature discovery and prioritization workshops
I initiated three workshops with a cross-functional team including developers and the founders.
Workshop 1: Brainstorming features & Voting
Workshop 2: Impact x Effort matrix (voted features)
Workshop 3: Classified all gathered features by importance for the user
Finally, we used MOSCOW method to classify all of the features including the ones identified in market analysis.
In the MUST HAVE section we have put the features that enables users to achieve their goals.
PRIORITIZATION SESSIONS LED US TO THE FOLLOWING CONCLUSION
App version 1
FOCUSING ON PERSONAL SAFETY PROBLEM
How might we provide women with access to help so they feel more confident walking alone at night?
Next version goal
TACKLING THE ROOT PROBLEM
How might we improve the public safety by refusing to accept female exclusion?
Catering towards prioritized features and flows
I continuously iterated on the design and made 3 major improvements
1st MAJOR IMPROVEMENT BASED ON DEVELOPERS' FEEDBACK
The developer raised concern that rendering a pathway with a live update is infeasible. That's why I decided to deprioritize this feature and not include it in MVP.
Saved places instead of path
Path line removed
Destination visible when clicking on a user
One button to share instead of two
2 nd MAJOR IMPROVEMENT BASED ON USABILITY TESTING (ON MAZE)
Incorporated destination sharing option into one flow
User's goal: share your destination so your contacts can be notified once you arrive.
Iteration 1: The destination field was not prominent enough so the users often pressed the location sharing button without providing their destination.
Iteration 2: Users were still confused as there were two primary buttons.
Final: I divided this flow into three different screens instead of two. Despite having more screens users completed the mission much easier.
3rd MAJOR IMPROVEMENT
User-friendly layout: decluttering location sharing screen
The initial location sharing screen was cluttered with information and users had to scroll to find the details. Instead of users having to scroll they now have two tabs to access them.
Location sharing screen
Final location sharing screens
Overall this project has taught me the importance of thinking how each element of design would tie together and contribute to the end result benefiting both for the users and business. Also, I was reminded that prioritization of UX methods and constant iterations are crucial for quicker progress.
IF I HAD MORE TIME I WOULD...
Explore more alternative cases
To increase safety i.e. low battery, limited-time to react, having no guardians to add etc.
Conduct more usability tests to match user needs for quick actions better.
Tackling the root problem
As the goal of Spher is to improve public safety for women, I would have started designing truly empowering features such as ability to rate public safety.
Of course, this isn't where it all ends. There is still a lot of work for us to improve the product in terms of usability, the visuals and most importantly - the features that would help tackling the root problem regarding safety.
I'm excited to see how Spher develops further!