Students at the University of Michigan are generally good at holding conversations with new people. But they're not so good at starting them. Argo sets you up on a blind friend-date with a stranger on campus who you might not have met otherwise- all you have to do is show up to a coffee shop and have a conversation with someone new!
Talking to People
Throughout Fall of 2015, I spoke with over 100 students about their current social situation. I asked them about their friend groups, how often they meet new people, and how satisfied they are. From these conversations, huge patterns arose:
- Students are good at talking to new people- Almost every person we talked to were more than capable of holding a conversation with a new person, as exemplified by our own conversation because we were new people!
- Students want to meet new people, but they need an excuse- Students expressed a desire to talk to new people, but wouldn't strike up a conversation without some sort of excuse, for fear of bothering the other person.
- Friend groups exhibit homophily- Most people explained when they came to college, they made friends who look & think a lot like them because that is who they met in their classes and clubs.
- IRL is better- Students tried using friend and dating apps where you meet new people and chat online, but these rarely translated to in-person interactions.
We wanted to figure out a low pressure way to introduce students to new people on campus, in real life.
Enter blind friend-dates.
How it works
We ask what time a student is free on a Friday, and match them with someone who is free at the same time. We send them both to a coffee shop, but don't tell them who they're meeting until they actually show up. Then they find each other, sit down, and have a real conversation. What does this accomplish?
- It gets you out of your "bubble"
- Gets you in the room with someone who also wants to be there
- Everything happens in real life
- There's no romantic pretense
- It functions as an excuse to talk to someone new!
For matching pairs, we decided not to match based on shared interests or experiences so as to introduce people who likely would not have met otherwise. We match people who 1) are not already friends on Facebook and 2) are free at the same time. That's it.
To test the idea of blind friend-dates, we made a fake Facebook human page and added as many University of Michigan students as we could just to see how many hits we could get. I then manually messaged every single person we were friends with asking them what time they were free on Friday and if they were interested in going.
Key Takeaways from Prototype:
- Students did sign up & wanted to go on friend-dates!
- Most students chose Friday as their free day (65% of signups were free on Fridays).
- They wanted questions or some sort of icebreaker provided to ease the conversation.
- Without matching students with any input other than time and Facebook friends, they still believed we had matched them based on something- major, interests, etc. They were convinced of it, even when we told them otherwise!
We had enough students going that we decided to code the process.
Sign-Up / Login:
We require that each user signs up with Facebook with just one click. This minimizes the number of steps needed for signing up, and lets us grab a user's friend list to ensure they are not matched with someone they know.
When you're logged in, you have the option to sign-up for a friend date immediately, visit your profile, or logout. Since the main goal of logging in is to sign up for a date, we put that front and center in the parafoveal vision of the user under the logo.
Pick what time you're free from 2-6pm on the upcoming Friday.
Here the user can find updates on where they are in the matching process- if they're waiting to be matched, need to confirm, or just looking for reminders. They can also change their email, which is vital for the webapp because that is how you confirm and get updates.
Mobile App Design (in Beta)
The user quickly walks through the process of signing up for an Argo friend-date, then is prompted to create an account / login with Facebook. At the end, they enable push notifications to quickly update them on where they are in the process through the week.
Following iOS visual design, we use UIDatePicker to let users choose what time they are free on a Friday. It is the only action on the screen to simplify the number of steps needed to take by the uu
After the user signs up for a date, they are asked to confirm their availability at the time so that they know exactly what time they are going, and so we know they still intend to go on a friend date and reduce the likelihood someone gets stood up.
After confirming, the user's homepage displays the time and date they will go on the date. There is also the option of adding an event to Google Calendar to help them remember the date easier.
15 minutes before the scheduled time of arrival, the user's homepage changes into "date mode." The interface looks significantly different.
Location they should head to is displayed at the top of the screen
Photo and name of person they should look for is in middle
We give the users some suggested questions to help spark conversation
- If the user can't find their match, they have the option of chatting them through Facebook messenger. (In the future, this will change to in-app messaging).
After going on friend-dates, the user's past matches will be stored here so they can review who they met up with in the past. Clicking on each match will take you to messenger so the user can chat with their old matches.
Each user has their own profile page. Here, they can see how many friend-dates they've been on, control which notifications to turn on or off, and see / store their favorite ice breaker questions.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
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