Redesigning an app I love

There are three sections in this article

Section I covers why I decided to redesign Moments : The story

Section II covers how I redesigned it : Understanding Moments Designing with empathy

Section III covers what I did in the redesign, The solutions

Side note: I do not work for Facebook, and the views in this article are strictly my own. Unlike the designers who work at Facebook, I don’t have full access to all the user data that influenced their current design. As a result, this study is not exhaustive, and I am certainly not suggesting that Moments abandon their current design and adopt my redesign.

I moved to Mumbai, more than a year ago, for my first Design job at Housing.com. I did Airbnb for the first time. I met Arthur, from France. He lived with us for 2 months. He is a great friend. One of the few people in life you connect with on a different level.

 

I knew we were not going to meet in near future. I wanted to save our story together, which I can show to others and which I can look back on to recall our times together. An idea brewed in my mind. I called it ‘Momeants’. 

 

Your story with people in your life — photos, calls, chats, places, food, songs — everything you have done with one person arranged according to time and locations. Moments that are meant to be remembered.

 

It was around the same time, I started reading Hooked : How to Build Habit-Forming Products by Nir Eyal. Momeants, being an idea linked to a human behaviour, was perfect for me to apply whatever I learned from Hooked to make it better. 

 

My belief in Momeants grew stronger day by day until one day I got a notification on Facebook messenger.

 

It said download ‘Moments’

 

I instantly downloaded the app. Apart from the similarity in the name, it’s idea of sharing and organising photos with friends was remarkably similar to ‘Momeants’, done in a much better, easier and efficient way. Well ofcourse, it was made by folks working at one of the biggest companies of our time, Facebook. 

 

I am not sure if you can imagine how I felt when I got that notification. Arthur knows. I woke him up at 4 in the morning, shouting.

 

But I am glad I realised one thing soon after. 

 

There are two things you can do with your ideas, once you know something similar and far better and stronger already exists.

 

Go all-in, make your North Star, gather a team, build it in real. 

Or follow the journey of the similar one and try to learn from it as much as you can.

 

I decided to go with the latter. 

 

Over the past one year, I’ve been able to see all kinds of changes and innovations that have emerged within the Moments app. I read blogs and reviews related to Moments. I came up with new ideas. I was both happy and sad whenever I saw something that I had in my mind being implemented in the new update. 

 

I continued reading Hooked, but my purpose was very different now.

Fall in love with a problem

I am finally writing this article to present my insights, thoughts and possible design suggestions to facilitate a more engaging, intuitive and seamless experience when it comes to using Moments app.

With a phone at everyone’s fingertips, it’s easy to capture photos of just about every moment in our lives. But it’s cumbersome to collect all the photos different people take in one place. It’s also hard to be sure you’ll get all the photos friends take of you. Even if you do end up with some photos others took, keeping them organised can be a chore. Sending photos to friends, on the first place, has too many steps.

Sending a photo to a friend simply has too many steps (Damjan Stankovic)

Moments makes it really fast for friends to exchange photos in a way that works better than existing options.

 

One of the app’s best function is, it automatically groups the photos in your phone’s camera roll based on who’s in them and when they were taken. This is done using the same facial recognition technology that powers tag suggestions on Facebook today.

 

In one tap, you can sync your photos to your friends. Then, friends can add their photos to the moment. It is a simple way for groups of friends to share groups of photos.

Process of sending photos with Moments App

Moments on a deeper level is also an expression of one of our core behaviours. Julie Zhuo, the VP of Product Design at Facebook, righty puts it —

In my parents’ bedroom is a photo of me where I’m six years old and the composition is terrible. My parents aren’t bothered by that. What matters most to them, and to the vast majority of people out there, is that when it comes to photos, it’s about the people and the memories. Family and friends congregating at a certain point in time. Weddings and graduations, vacations and family portraits.

You can read more about Moments in the article Designing Moments by Laura Javier.

 

It began at a Facebook hackathon in mid 2015. 

 

I love hackathons. You usually don’t win anything, but the feeling of building a product, seeing people try it, and convincing yourself that this is huge and you’re going to work on this further is a great feeling. Glad that such a good product came out of one such hackathon.

Moments linked friends. It  was perfect for me to conduct, what researchers call as, contextual inquiry, a method where you go to people and observe them in the environments where they use your products. 

 

Having been working remotely, I was fortunate enough to travel to a lot of places and meet a lot of my friends from different spheres of my life, again.

 

I introduced Moments to most of the friends I met. Here’s what we did

I told my friends to click photos with me

Then I asked them to share those photos with me, the way they usually do it

Then I told them about Moments App

Made them download it in their phones

Asked them to share our photo using Moments 

Saw how they used the app 

Where they faced problems 

How they felt while using the app

That’s me mostly introducing Moments App to my people :)

Empathy was the key here. My job was to try to understand, why they  are behaving the way they are when engaging with the app, not to try to change that behavior or influence it, but accommodate it within the app.

 

I loved this process. I was really happy seeing people learn to use a product and eventually loving it. I now think this approach is much better than asking some random person to fulfil a series of random tasks, at an inconvenient time, in a forced environment, on a new device, in front of a completely random person. 

 

Choosing my friends for the study was a real plus. Its when things are natural, you get the truest insights.

Don’t Ask People What They Want, Watch What They Do

This study gave me many insightful observations to build the experience in a way that fits with the workflow, mental models, and usage patterns of the users.  I will unfold those insights in the course of this article.

Nir Eyal, author of the book Hooked, hypothesizes that the most valuable services should create triggers for the user, activating desire to use the product whenever experiencing a particular sensation/problem.

 

In the version, before the update in mid 2016, Moments app had a trigger in the form of a floating head. So when you clicked a photo, the head would pop up on your camera screen, asking you to send the  photos to the person you took the photos with! [It recognised the name of the person based on the same facial recognition technology].

Trigger to send photos on camera screen asking to send photos to the person in the photo (L) Option to send photos by clicking ‘send’ (R)

When I introduced moments to my friends, they were so surprised and delighted to see their name popping up on my phone and vice-versa when we clicked a photo. A delight like magic.

 

This was surely among the most genius of features I came across in any application. 

 

But this trigger got removed from Moments in an update almost half an year ago.

 

Unlike the designers who work at Facebook, I didn’t have full access to all the user data that influenced this design decision but my qualitative research helped me figure out a couple of possible reasons that can be responsible for this decision.

 

Firstly, the trigger was more of a hinderance. My friends felt good the first time they saw it, but not after that. Imagine something popping up everytime you click a photo. It became unpleasant after a while.

 

Secondly, it lacked timing. You wouldn’t want to send photos rightaway after clicking them. I mean your friend is still with you. You are taking more and more photos. You are outdoors with less connectivity. You lack that motivation, etc, etc.

 

So the natural reaction was : drown the head below → less clicks on head→ less number of people creating a moment through floating head → 

result = trigger head removed!

 

The trigger in the current version of Moments app comes in the form a notification the moment you click photos.

The current trigger comes as a notification when you click a photo

Again it lacks timing! Most of my friends swiped it off when it came.

 

The Fogg Behavior Model shows that three elements must converge at the same moment for a behavior to occur: Motivation, Ability, and Trigger. When a behavior does not occur, at least one of those three elements is missing. 

 

With Moments App, you can skip all the unnecessary things you did before to share photos and just send with a click of a button, everything else is taken care of. Talk about motivation and ability, it cant be simpler than a click. The only thing that can be made better is the trigger.

 

For that it was important for me to understand what users actually want out of the trigger. What is the job that the trigger should do. 

 

Like all good design, the process of getting to a simple solution is complex. It took me a while to come up to a solution for a trigger than can be better. 

 

In the very first article by Laura, she mentioned one of the core problems they set out to solve while designing  moments— 

 

“I take so many photos, but I always forget to send them to the friends who want them.”

 

Trigger’s job should be that simple : to remind people to share the photos with their friends, at the right time!

 

To find out that right time, I wrote the story-matrix for Moments. Story matrix is a technique I came with while redesigning foodpanda. 

 

A story-matrix starts from the moment just before something triggers the user to use the app till the moment just after the user have successfully completed the desired action using the app.

 

For the journey of a typical moment’s user, the story matrix looks like this —

Story matrix for a Moment’s user

The trigger right now lies at the point where user takes a photo —

Right now the trigger for moments comes at the point where user clicks photos with the friends

One of the questions I asked my friends was — when do you send your photos after you take them? Most of them opted — when they ask me or whenever I remember!

 

I thought what if we can shift that trigger towards the right. Somewhere between user’s first interaction with the friend after they meet till the time user sends the photo.

Introducing new trigger at the point when the user first interacts with friends after meeting

The idea for this new trigger is simple :

The tigger should happen whenever the two friends interact after they have clicked the photo — either on Messenger or Whatsapp or Call!

Trigger to create moment on  Whatsapp screen, Messenger screen and Calling screen (L to R)

Screenshot of Permissions under Moments app

You ask, how would moments know if I am calling or texting that friend i met and took photos with? Technically speaking, very much possible!

 

Moments knows the name and face of the person you took photo with. Whenever you interact with that person on messenger, moments head can come up. 

 

But, I am not really sure about how it can be done on whatsapp screen and calling screen. Moments can read call logs, knowing which number you call and when.

The challenge now is to match the phone number of a person with his name, face and facebook profile. 

 

Well, Facebook has Whatsapp, the phone number directory of people, under its umbrella. It can be a good start for Facebook-connected-services. If it can be done, it will be a sure delight.

 

Also, apart from having the advantage of right timing, this trigger also has an added advantage of creating nostalgia for users. Imagine, you met a friend, clicked photos, you texted him if he has reached and suddenly you get to see the photos you took in the day and you can share them with that person, that too just with a tap of a button. Nostalgia is a powerful weapon!

Trigger to create a moment comes on messenger screen while texting the friend with whom photos were clicked

Moments suggests specific people to create a moment with. For example, if Moments thinks you took photos on a trip with Jack and Jill, it will group those photos and ask, “Do you want to create a ‘sunday evening’ (name easily editable) moment with Jack and Jill?”

 

If Jack and Jill are using the moments app and you have created a moment with them, they will get a suggestion to add the photos  in the same moment you created.

Suggestion to create a new moment (L) and adding photos to an existing moment (R)

In order to be actionable, the suggestions need to communicate a lot of context in a small amount of space: What are these photos of? Why are they being shown to me? What am I supposed to do with them?

 

There have been refinements in the design of the suggestions over the previous few updates.

Changes within suggestions over last few updates

Replacing the concept of ‘sending photos to friends’ by ‘creating moment with those friends’ is particularly amazing. —  to create a place where all the photos of a particular event, from all the friends, should be together.

 

The changes over suggestions have definitely made it easier for people to independently grasp how handy suggestions are. I could not think of many changes in its design.

 

I thought of one improvement in the current design for suggestions card. 

 

When my friends were using the app, they skipped most of the moments but they really didn’t know what skip did to that moment. They had to figure out themselves after going under the list icon on top left.

 

So I thought of replacing the word ‘skip’ with ‘later’, to convey to people that they can create this moment afterwards too. And adding a little animation to the list icon after the user has tapped on later to convey where they can access that moment later from.

Animation options for saving a moment for later use

You must ensure that there is always some feedback for user actions, because it makes users feel in control. Visual feedback acknowledges that the app has received a user’s action.

When you click on create on a card in suggestions list, a moment gets created.

Views of an existing moment

Laura mentioned in her article on designing moments — “It was important to us that Moments not only facilitate exchanging photos, but also be an enjoyable place to look back on them.”

 

Now, there are lots of things that you can do with your created moment —

Mind map of things you can do with an existing moment

Few key problems that I identified while I observed my friends using this section of the app were — 

 

i. Problem : They couldn’t figure out who added which photo in a group

Goal : to make it clear who added which photo

 

Solution : adding the name of the person who added that photo below the respective photo.

Adding name of person who added the photo below respective photo

ii. Problem : It was not very clearly indicated that who has viewed the photos and who hasn’t. This is crucial to show because if someone has not yet viewed the moment, he must have not added the photos he has. 

 

Goal : to distinguish clearly the status (viewed/not viewed, on moments/on messenger) of different people in a group

 

Solution : making the moment screen similar to the design of suggestion card from which the moment was initially created, clearly indicating the status of friends who are a part of that moment.

Changing visibility of people inside a moment

With this design the share, add and comment sections also have enough breathing space and the bottom part of the screen does not look cluttered like the current version which has more than 6 icons before, together!

Inside a moment, new design with names added, photos and icons place changed

What to do if your friend hasn’t added his photos to the existing moment? I have covered this in #4 Reminding friends to send the photos.

 

One more thing I would like to mention within a moment’s screen is the ‘add friends to this moment’ card at the bottom of every random moment. The friends shown in these cards are the ones with whom you frequently create moments.

‘Add more friends’ card (faces of people unrelated to the current opened moment)

shown randomly below an unrelated moment

Most of my friends were confused to see why some other friends, who were in no way related to the open moment, were shown inside that moment. It was a concern that most of them raised.

 

Its not the intent that people see first, its the faces and the name.

 

The obvious reaction was to skip that thing and not care about it. One of the best thing about Moments app is the concept of privacy. And this ‘add friends’ card generated a kind of a negative feeling within users.

 

I strongly think these ‘add friends’ cards within moments should be removed.

Ever asked your friends to send the photos they have of you? Yeah? Well, thats a part of every story where photo sharing is concerned. I asked this to my friends during my study, all of them said, yes they do! 

 

Everybody asks everybody for their photos. Currently they do it verbally or over text. Its more of a psychological behaviour, people want a way to ask others for their photos.

Asking about photos comes towards the end of the story matrix

In the previous versions of Moments, there was a separate tab showing a list of friends whom you can ‘ask’ for the photos they have of you (you might have taken photos with them).

The ask for photos tab which is removed now

This tab was also removed. Less number of people asking for photos through a separate tab? Not a good way to ask for photos?

 

What Moments now have done is, if anyone from the group creates a moment, everyone else gets a notification for the same and they also get to see a suggestion card showing a group of photos from their phones which  they can add to the existing moment.

 

This add suggestion card is shown both within the suggestions list on the home screen and on the bottom of the respective moment.

‘Add’ suggestion card shown both within suggestions list and at the bottom of the respective moment screen

Although moments shows add suggestion cards to all the other friends who are a part of a moment too, but this thing is not very obvious to every users in that group. They want to remind their friends if they have not added the photos yet. 

 

One current way they can do it is by commenting within the moment.

 

But since asking for photos is an important part of every moments user’s journey, I thought on a solution to give reminding thing a primary feature and thus make it much easier for people to ‘remind’ others to share the photos they have.

For the solution I chose to show a card, about reminding a friend to add his photos to an existing moment.

Remind card for reminding friends to add their photos in an existing moment

This reminder card can be shown both within the moment suggestions list and below the respective moment.

Remind card shown within suggestion list (L) and also at the bottom of respective moment (R)

Well, you see there’s a also difference between asking and reminding. 

 

The reminded user will get a notification and he can add photos from the notification itself.

The friend gets a notification if someone reminds him and he can add photos to the moment from there itself

Sanket and Anurag were two of my friends whom I introduced Moments too. They both started using the app when we went on a road trip. We added all our photos in a Moment. They loved how this problem of sharing photos was solved after Moments coming in their lives.

 

But they both independently shared few photos, which were also the part of our Moment, on Facebook and Instagram.

Posts by my friends on facebook and instagram after our trip

People love sharing few of their best photos, from an event that just happened in their life like a weeding, birthday, trip, etc, on Facebook and Instagram. In the story matrix of sharing photos, posting on social media lies somewhere after the event of clicking photos have happened.

Photo sharing on social media lies towards the last of the story matrix

I realised that its an integral part of most of Moments user’s journey and there is a lot that can be done to integrate sharing photos on social media through Moments app itself. 

 

What if we can show a social card below every moment and give users options to customise it according to their needs.

Social card for sharing photos on facebook

Its beneficial to the user because he doesn’t have to go through all the tasks of selecting photos, adding location and tagging friends. Moments can do it using the current technology. Now you can just post your awesome group of photos on Facebook and Instagram with a click.

Social card shown below respective moment(L) Options to change/add/remove photo (centre) Automatic location and automatic friends tagging done before posting to facebook (R)

As I mentioned earlier in the article about inviting new users to use moments app. Sharing on Facebook and Instagram, with a small ‘shared from Moments App’ tag can help attract new people towards the platform.

 

Similar flow can be followed for sharing photos on instagram.

Shared from moments on facebook

Facebook’s year in a review, Timehop showing past status updates and photos shared exactly one or more years ago, Heyday using a similar approach, reminding users of the past but adding another dimension: location. These are just are a few products that use nostalgia to spark engagement and build compelling experiences.

 

I took out some time to observe the activity of sharing old memories with friends on facebook. 

 

Going through most of the ‘see your memories’ posts on facebook, I noticed that activities like liking, commenting, etc around the memory which is shared is done mostly by the people who were a part of that memory. Its more relevant to a certain group of people already associated with it.

 

Moments app have great advantage of harnessing this power of Nostalgia. 

 

Moments also knows at which location, at what time and with whom you have created a memory in your life. It can use any of this information to provoke the feeling nostalgia within you. 

 

i. Using time and date :

Asking you to look back on a moment you created an year ago.

ii. Using location :

If you are visiting a certain location after say two months and you already have few moments at this location before, moments can show you those moments at that location.

iii. Using people in a moment :

If you interact with a friend on messenger first time after say three months, moments head can pop up asking you to take reflect back on moments you have that friend.

Final prototype having all the changes I have suggested, together

I know this article is a bit lengthy and I have written a lot about this redesign process but I guess it was important that my story makes sense in a deep and personal way.

 

I have been working on this since almost over an year now. Working little little day by day, checking whats new and validating what better can be done.

 

This decision to follow the journey of Moments and not working on ‘Momeants’ has helped me a lot in evolving as a Product Designer. I now have my answer to the most common question in an UX interview — which is the app you love the most, why and what changes you can suggest to make it better? — Moments :)

 

Well that’s the fun part about learning by doing. You learn and explore a lot of random things along the way while trying to learn about the thing you actually set out to learn.

 

Apart from the reason I mentioned in the first part of the article for my redesign, I was also inspired by a lot of early stage product designers across the globe who got a job at their dream company by taking a slightly different and more logical approach than sending out mere portfolio and resume links to the company — its by proving how you can solve their problems. 

 

Shout out to Laura , Joile and Facebook design. Would love to hear your thoughts and feedback on this. You can mail me at aayushjain.jain28@gmail.com or get in touch here.

 

I am looking out for exciting and challenging opportunities as a Product Designer. If you have any thing for me, please reach out on twitter or you can email me at aayushjain.jain28@gmail.com. 

 

You can  have a look at my other projects also.

 

Thats all for now! Really glad that you took out time to read this. If you liked this article, please hit recommend to share it with others.

Designing Moments Laura Javier

Nirandfar.com Nir Eyal

Empathy is the best UX Policy uxplanet.org

Why design at Facebook Julie Zhuo

Why Product Thinking is the next big thing in UX Design Nikkel Blaase

My Facebook Product Design Internship Interview Geunbae “GB” Lee

I wanted to see how far I could push myself creatively. So I redesigned Instagram Kim Thuy Tu, freeCodeCamp

How to Get Your Job Application Noticed Every Time Raghav Haran

Nostalgia: A Product Designer’s Secret Weapon Ryan Hoover 

How you can land a 6-figure job In tech with no connections Austin Belcak

Airbnb Moments @Jihad Kawas

A Guerilla Usability Test on Dropbox Photos Francine Lee

Special thanks to :- 

Prof. Prasad Bokil, Department of design, IIT Guwahati

Arthur Noberion, because of whom I got this idea 

Nupur Agarwal, Product Manager @explorelifetravelling

Gaurav Joshi, Head of design @ Housing

Abhinav chikkara product designer @lisnapp 

Sweta Agarwal, software engineer @ Adobe

Parth Sabharwal, Ph.D. student at dartmoth. 

Sanket Garg, Android developer @ Citrix and 

Shweta Jain, my sister 

— for helping me during the course of this article. And thanks to all my friends for taking  out time for my study. You all have really helped me to come up with the solutions I have proposed in the article.