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Role: User Experience Designer

Responsibilities: User Interviews, Research, Visual &
Interaction Designs, Prototyping, and Usability Testing

Outcome: MVP for gay dating app

Date: 2020 



There were lots of online dating sites with plenty of matchable users, but long-term dating success stories were rare. Tickle aimed to make meaningful connections by translating the positive aspects of the traditional in-person dating experience into a digital experience.

Problem Statement

Many users of gay dating apps were familiar with the struggles inherent in gay dating app use. Although many of these apps had features of matching and messaging, the successful dating rate was minimal. The continuous dating disappointments made many users skeptical about finding their true match online. I took a deep dive into understanding users' needs and expectations from dating apps. My findings resulted in creating an MVP for a gay dating app.

Target Users

  • 28 - 45 years old

  • Gay male

  • Smartphone owners

  • Active dating app users

  • Single




My qualitative user research began with a direct assessment of users' behavior based on observation. This field study took place in gay bars in West Hollywood. This initial research was beneficial for me to learn more about users, their goals, and their challenges. I brought that knowledge to my design. I started by sitting on a bench at a peak hour and watched people how they interacted with each other, how often they used their cell phones, what they talked about etc. My uninterrupted observation continued at the bars by interacting with some people holding an unleading conversation. 

On my second day, I conducted informal interviews with people individually and in small groups.
Datings apps were often hit-and-miss
Following up was a challenge
Often it had endless conversations
So many options and so little action
Real compatibility took time

User Interviews

I've scheduled direct interviews with 20 people to learn more about their dating lives, struggles, hopes, and expectations. I conducted the interviews remotely, and it took about 30 minutes.

As for the secondary research, I've read published articles and studies. Once I gathered enough qualitative and quantitative data, I was ready to narrow down my findings.

The summary of the interviews was that they:


• ...had at least 2 active dating apps
• ...called their friends for advice and dating advise
• ...had so many options manifested a lack of trust 
• ...often relied on each other to follow up after the first date
• ...couldn't be fully sure of compatibility through chatting

• ...preferred not to talk to their close circle about dating issues

Empathy Map

I created empathy map to map what I knew about the potential audience. This tool helped me to understand the reason behind some actions a user takes deeply.  I wanted to feel the conection with potential users and which was beneficial for me shift focus from the product to the users who were going to use the product

Empathy Map

User Persona

I gathered my thoughts from the empathy map and gained a perspective similar to the users through the user persona. I stepped out of myself and recognized that different people had different needs and expectations

User Persona

Affinity Map

I needed to organize my large volume of ideas for the MVP that might have been overwhelming otherwise. I made connections between ideas and discovered recurring themes that wasn't obvious at first.

Affinity Map

Mind Mapping

For MVP purposes, I decided to focus on the following features and create ideas around them. Sign in/up, Onboarding, Profile, Matches, Chat, And Follow up. 

Mind Map

Low Fidelity

After a few sketches, I designed Lo-Fi Wireframes to conduct an initial usability testing. 


Usability Testing

The current main focus was onboarding, profile setup, matches, and chat. I was able to find 10 volunteers through the people I met at the bars. I identified major user flaws during testing. 

  • 8/10 users weren't able to navigate matches

  • 5/10 was looking for matches page

  • 6/10 wasn't able to complete onboarding

  • 5/10 people weren't able to send a message to their matches

I carried out a post-survey to gain more insight. 

Citrus Fruits

Sign in & Sign up


Implemented different ways to sign in and sign up while protecting the privacy of users. User could easily sign in & up by face recognition, text messaging, Google account, or using their e-mail address and password. 

Citrus Fruits

Onboarding - Physical


Divided onboarding into two categories to find the right matches for users. The first part of onboarding was more physical that was beneficial to designate their types. 

Citrus Fruits

Onboarding - Personality


Although users weren't required to answer, the last 5 questions were reserved to become closer to identifying their personalities. This feature was beneficial to match the ideal candidates as not all physical compatibility wasn't the only solution. 

Citrus Fruits

User Profile

  • Users could easily update their profiles with one click.

  • Hashtags were helpful to narrow down their ideal matches.

  • Encouraged users to fill out their profiles by implementing an illustration.

Citrus Fruits

Picture Edits


For MVP, users could readjust, delete, and upload their pictures. 

Citrus Fruits


  • Each day, they could decline three matches which ideally meant encouraging users to engage with one another.

  • Each match had seven days to chat with each other.

Citrus Fruits



When chatting starts, Tickle aims to motivate users to meet up. With the partnership of Yelp, users can see some date spot ideas and where to meet.

Citrus Fruits

Follow up


The initial idea of Tickle is to motivate users to meet in person. Tickle even provides some activity inspirations for users. When users agree to meet, the reminder becomes active, and the confirmation also goes to their e-mail address.

Usability Testing

I conducted another test with 15 participants and 5 of them were volunteering from the beginning. The tasks were: 


  • Sign up and follow the prompts till you see your profile

  • You see your profile is empty. Go ahead and fill out your profile

  • Check your pictures and edit the one mispositioned

  • Delete one of your pictures

  • You notice Mike is your type, go ahead and chat with him

  • I see you guys agree to meet, but you don't know which bar to meet at, what would be your next move?

  • You don't like Hank, dislike Hank 

I received additional feedback and concerns about the app:


The limit of matches, safety, privacy, and more preference questions will be an inspiration for my next iteration. 

Final Thoughts

Dating is a challenge and gay dating is more confusing. What we want sometimes doesn't reflect on our actions.


I learned so much throughout my interviews, usability tests, and post-survey feedback that inspired me for the next iteration.


Tickle is an ongoing project that I update and test regularly. The work on the app was fascinating.


Currently, I am brainstorming on the Dating Advisor feature, followed by the Setting page, and iteration of the existing features. 

To be continued. 


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