Bumble BFF: Friend Introduction
Maryland Institute College of Art — Master of Professional Studies in UX Design Program
Project Timeline: 15 Mar — 3 May 2022 
UX Design Team: Will DiBello, Raul Flores, Paul Miranda, Sara Pollard
Project Overview

Bumble BFF Friend Introduction feature is designed to connect real people through real people, empowering them to confidently and comfortably put forth their best selves and build a stronger and authentic network of friends. 
Problem Statement

“How might we empower people navigating the world of social interaction to confidently and comfortably make meaningful connections?”​​​​​​​
We have observed that because users are not confident their connections are real and safe, users are struggling with overcoming social anxieties while meeting and making meaningful connections with new people and being able to present their best authentic self which is causing a lack of authentic friendships.

Our goal is to increase the safety and security of the application so that our customers can feel safe, confident, and comfortable to increase engagements, activities, and connections.
Understanding Who Our Users Are
The Friend Vouching Solution

Since Bumble already has robust technical security and safety features, we decided to look at solutions from a personal and emotional perspective.

The team conducted an opportunity solution tree session 

With a focus on friend vouching solutions, we further fleshed out solutions through patterning and Crazy 8s exercise

With our goal in mind and the friend vouching solution, we focused on two key areas of the app:
1. Connecting with new people by being introduced through a mutual friend
2. Refresh the profile to make it less like a dating process and more about common interests and connections.

Friend Introduction

Making the first move through a mutual friend empowers users to connect knowing they're not just connecting with completely random strangers.
Asking a mutual friend to introduce you to a matched user
High fidelity wireframe of friend introduction feature from the requester's pain of view or task

User flow of a user requesting an introduction to a matched user through a mutual friend

Your mutual friend introducing you to a friend

User flow of the user's mutual friend reaching out to the matched user and making the introduction

Acceptance of your friend introduction request

User flow of matched user receiving the request through a mutual friend—actions include viewing the requester's profile, accepting or declining the request, and initiating the first move with the requester

Connecting with a new friend after acceptance of the request

User flow for the user making the friend introduction request—actions include responding to acceptance notification and making the first move by sending a text or video message

Redesigning the Bumble BFF Profile

While an appearance-centric profile makes sense for dating, we redesigned BFF's profile to focus on shared common interests and connections that matter more to developing real friendships.

(L) Current profile view, (R) New BFF profile view shows mutual connections, and interests along with more users within a close vicinity with the same interests 

Common interests can connect people together helping build a strong foundation for friendship. Friendships are also built through connections with other people. We focused on those two key elements to help users gain comfort and confidence in seeking the right people to connect with.
Usability Testing
23 — 25 April 2022. 5 participants. Moderated via Zoom.
To identify usability issues with the feature, interaction, and interface. Discover pain points and validate our solutions.
Tasks/Guided Questions & Key Insights
1. Swiping, Viewing User Profiles, and Matching
Positive reception of the new profile design less focused on "looks;" enjoyed and found interests helpful
Would like to see more images to get a better gauge of their personality and lifestyle
Swiping functionality was a bit clunky and doesn't quite match the current app
Mutual friends are unclear; questions regarding the level of friendship (e.g. matched, acquaintance, close)
Liked "Save for Later," but unsure how it works when Bumble matches disappear after 24hrs
2. Requesting an Introduction through a mutual friend
The language/text and flow of the friend introduction feature were a bit confusing; unclear where the mutual friend is in the process
Wanted to see what was said about them by their mutual friend making the introduction
3. Initiating the introduction after acceptance of a request 
Interesting concept, clear and easy to do; idea and implementation well received
Straightforward, either send a message or video to introduce yourself to a matched person
Liked the options to make the first move; acceptance notification boosts confidence since its through a mutual friend
Notable Quotes
"I don't care about how a person looks, I like to know right away if we have a lot in common."
"Seeing interests and friends icons would be helpful for planning group activities."
"Are these 'mutual friends' my friends or people I've matched with?"
"I have a few friends I became friends with through mutual connections. I like the idea, kinda like the old-fashioned way of meeting people before social media came."
"I hope my friend put in a good word for me."
"Why isn't this in the app already?"

We received several great insights and feedback from our usability study participants and here are the recommendations we selected and iterated in this increment.
Users wanted clarity on their mutual connections with people they are interested in. Are they close, acquaintances, or just matched?
Friendship badges help determine the level of connection between you and your friends as well as their connection with other people not in their circle. When users want to be introduced to other people through mutual friends, this creates another level of confidence and comfort that there is a strong trustworthy bridge to a potential friendship.
Users wanted to know what was said about them. "I hope my friend put in a good word for me."
Meeting new people can be an anxious experience. We built comfort and transparency in the process. When a mutual friend makes an introduction on behalf of a user, they receive a copy of the message sent about them.
Lessons Learned, Takeaways & Next Steps

Overall, the new feature was well received with related interests being the most mentioned in the profile refresh. Common interests and personality matter even more in friendships than the superficial nature of dating apps focused on "looks." Collaborating as a team in 3 different time zones was challenging but tasks and understanding of what we were trying to solve enabled us to work well both synchronously—in a limited manner—and asynchronously. 
During our ideation session, we briefly explored mapping out people's connections with others that will help and perhaps empower people seeking real friendship to gain confidence in connecting with the right people. I am interested in further exploring it in a future study to dive deeper into understanding how people are connected to different people.
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