Client:
Messenger app redesign challenge (mock project)

Role:
UX/UI Design

The Opportunity

This reimagination of the Messenger app was prompted by a general study of instant messenger platforms. My research demonstrated that many users were juggling multiple instant messenger platforms to fulfil very similar communication tasks. As Facebook is the owner of many of these apps, I concluded the natural and realistic design solution was to combine the most highly used apps into one single application.

This is not a redesign of the entire app, just of Messenger’s main features. Visual design styles were not changed (except for the app logo), as the design process led me towards retaining the original design patterns.

During this project, I discovered Facebook is currently developing something very similar.

Research

By conducting quantitative and qualitative research I discovered Whatsapp and Facebook were by far the most widely used external messaging apps. Products such as Slack, Instagram and Snapchat were also popular but usually for specific purposes and tasks. The user groups I studied were from the creative/tech/music industries. For this demographic, I found that networking, socialising and file sharing were very important to their lives and work. Therefore they often used several of the aforementioned apps on a day-to-day basis.

Defining the Problem

This research made it apparent that this demographic needed multiple messaging apps for their work and social lives (which usually overlapped to a significant degree). They liked Facebook Messenger for its layout, connection to facebook friends and ease of use. They liked Whatsapp for its security and ability to make “phone calls”. They liked Slack for its work spaces and file sharing functionality. And they found they were also messaging with Instagram (and sometimes snapchat) often reluctantly. They had frustrations and concerns with Facebook messenger’s security flaws, they sometimes struggled with Whatsapp’s UI and they often found it annoying having to juggle several similar apps.

Point of View

Next, I developed a “Point of View” statement to open up and frame the design challenge:
“A business person needs to securely message and transfer files with clients and friends while on-the-go or in the office, as they’re currently juggling several messaging platforms. “

This ideation process led me to believe that combining and substituting many of the current features of Facebook's Messenger, Whatsapp and Instagram messenger sections was the way to go. The redesigned 'Messenger App' would allow users to send and receive Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram messages in the one place. Because Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp were the primary messaging apps used, I combined UI aspects of these two products to inform the design. Instagram's messaging function is relatively simplistic, and has some limitations, so I decided it didn't need to be influential to the end design.
The combined design elements of both Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, will make for a familiar and easy to use navigation. This new ‘messenger app will retain the name 'Messenger' (taken from Facebook Messenger), and use Facebook's blue colour scheme. It will use the WhatsApp logo as it is more memorable than the Facebook Messenger icon, and it communicates to users that this new 'Messenger' app has the encryption security of Whatsapp.

Ideation Conclusions

The Toolbar

I used the Facebook Messenger toolbar as the toolbar template but added additional functionality. The calls and settings buttons are borrowed from Whatsapp. Camera and status are left out as they aren’t essential to the function of the redesigned app.

User Testing and Conclusion

The initial purpose of this design challenge was to see if I could design a better messaging app. Unexpectedly, this design thinking process led me to combine and hopefully improve what was already out there, while refraining from adding yet another messaging platform to the app store. I tested my interactive figma prototype on a number of current Facebook messenger and Whatsapp users who took to it surprisingly well. All in all it was a great challenge which I believe improved my design thinking process.

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