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Personal safety app with a goal to create safer cities for women.

PROJECT OVERVIEW

ABOUT SPHER

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.

PROJECT TYPE

Android flutter, Women empowerment

MY ROLE

End-to-end UX and UI design of two main features: location sharing and chat

TEAM

UX/UI Designers: Myself (Dagija Kugeviciute), Katerina Blazheva, Francesco Fastelli

DURATION

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

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Individuals aged 16-34 who have felt very or fairly unsafe when walking alone after dark

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 INITIAL PROBLEM VALIDATION

BUSINESS GOALS

NEW USERS

Win 1000 new users per week since app launch in September, 2022.

RETURNING USERS

Empowering women through togetherness - more motivation to keep using the app.

NEW PARTNERS

Earn a reputation to acquire 10 new partners (bars/clubs/taxis) that would collaborate with Spher to tackle public safety issues.

CONSTRAINTS

LIMITED TIME

Having attracted the first investor it was important to deliver the project by the agreed date.

LIMITED BUDGET

Due to limited budget not all features can be implemented in version 1.0

DATA PRIVACY

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. 

Location sharing

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Map - Home Screen

Destination input option

Visibility of who is tracking you

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Automated check-ins

Push notifications when friends get home

Location/Destination visibility

Chats

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Quick message for better accessibility

Main chats window 

My Spher contact selection

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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”

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GPS with your circle/Chat

Emergency button

Premium required, evasive

Based on community resilience

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Calling nearby guardians

Guardians training

Patronising content to keep safe

Tackles public safety problem

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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

14 Insights

2 Types of pains

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Findings

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.

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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

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Workshop 2: Impact x Effort matrix (voted features) 

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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.

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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?

LOW-FI  SKETCHES

Catering towards prioritized features and flows

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VALIDATION

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.

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Before

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Saved places instead of path

Path line removed

Destination visible when clicking on a user

One button to share instead of two

Iteration 1

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Iteration 1.1

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Final

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.

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Iteration 1

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Iteration 2

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Final

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.

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Location sharing screen

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Final location sharing screens

LEARNINGS

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.

Refine chat 

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.

WHAT'S NEXT?

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!