YO! was actively worked on from June 2014 to January 2017. I joined the project in November 2014.
YO! was inspired by Left’s Bangladeshi team, whose internet was so poor that when a video call was held, all other employees in the office could not use the internet. They built a prototype of this as a work around.
Lead UI/UX Designer
Usability testing and data collection.
Low and high fidelity mockups.
In app analytics and tracking.
Design handoff to remote (Bangladesh) development team.
App store updating and support.
Brand development and marketing materials.
Improved app rating from a 3.5 to 4.4.
Increased engagement time with core user group.
Grew app to over 1 million installs across both iOS and Google platforms.
This is was the starting point for the app, done before I joined. This version lacked hierarchy, visual consistency, used scale not appropriate for mobile, and had not been tested with users.
These are Google Play Store screen shots from early 2015, about 6 months after I joined. The biggest incremental improvements were to try to provide clarity of navigation, and bring the app up to standards expected for mobile devices.
Somewhere about 9 months in I pushed to have the design updated to follow Material Design standards, while improving the overall app navigation. The tabs show in the picture above were awkward, hard to reach at the top of the screen, and also contained a lot of content, far more than they should. A drawer menu allowed for items to be broken out and arranged in a hierarchy by need.
Mid-2016, we needed to make a major technical overhaul of the backend - addressing the connectivity protocol directly. At this point, we would need ALL users to upgrade the app, there was no way that it would still be backwards compatible. We decided that rebranding would help to indicate that there are two separate and pretty distinct app versions, so I worked on a complete app redesign, creating and applying a new style guide,
Our largest audiences were mainly located in Cuba, Colombia, and Bangladesh. Getting feedback from them was impossible.
We contracted an on the ground contact in Cuba “Mr. Big” (no joke, that’s what he went by), to hire people to go around and hand do paper surveys, which he photographed and uploaded to us. This gave some insights into needs and how people were using their phones.
We added in an optional in app survey to collect data. This worked well, but only got responses from online and connected users.
We also used on the ground methods to distribute our app. Since it was designed for offline scenarios, it needed to be distributable that way. We published in the “El Paquete Semanal” (weekly content distribution done through USBs) in Cuba, we partnered with events like Gallery openings in Colombia.
We weren’t getting user traction. We were seeing initial adoption, but the large scale retention just wasn’t there.
As you’ll see in the next section, we trimmed and focused our efforts around content, instead of trying to spread across messaging as well. We also learned that the onboarding process was complicated, and we were seeing a lot of drop offs partway through. People either didn’t finish registration, or when they did, they found no one to connect to in the app, and didn’t see the value in their first experience. These areas became places of focus to improve.
As mentioned, one of our biggest challenges was trying to get the app onboarding just right - get more people into the app (ie. successfully finishing onboarding), but also getting them engaged and understanding the value. This was the focus of work for ~6 months, and I went through a lot of different attempts:
From the very first days of YO!, we required users to register to use the app. This allowed us to quickly populate their profile (photo and name), and more importantly, to match them with other people they might know on the app by uploading and cross-referencing the address book.
Users could not progress past this step without registering.
The obvious thing to do was to remove that requirement, which we did.
After we removed the biggest barrier to getting people into the app by delaying registration (it became only necessary to access certain features), we realized that the next challenge was getting users to comprehend .
This is a wireframe that I put together, mapping out different user flows through onboarding the concept of the HyperNet and getting a user connected offline for the first time. Each column represents different variations on the same thing.
Onboarding V2 & 3/4
Versioning numbers aside (it was somewhere in this time frame), I experimented with 2 different ways to explain to users what they HyperNet was. One version was more step by step, the other, more light. We found the stepped version performed better, so we kept iterating on this concept.
After learning that showing things in incremental steps had the best comprehension, I experimented with different ways to break things down even further. The version that you will find in the app today is very similar to the one pictured here on the left.
This version went through a series of 2 option questions, essentially troubleshooting getting 2 people connected by doing things step by step with user feedback,
YO! was shelved for any development in mid 2017. While we had gotten user traction, as a company we had failed to monetize the app so maintaining it was unsustainable. It was left on the Play Store, but removed from the Apple App Store since iOS was not aligned with the company’s future goals.
Left took the learnings from working on YO! to shift into a new product, RightMesh - a token incentivized mesh networking SDK for mobile devices.