Networking Mobile App UX research

Bagel - event networking app with a helpful AI assistant (Bagel Bro) that helps to navigate the event and find useful contacts by matching interests.

Bagel app motivates networking by showcasing networking achievements, encourages to initiate communication by gamification (gathering and sending Bagels) and suggests conversation starters.

Project co-authors: Gergely Csaba Kolláth, Dékány Dalma Dóra
This application was my diploma work at the Digital Product Designer course at Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design in Budapest, Hungary. We were working in teams and were mentored by best UX experts in industry there in Hungary. The project was highly rated during the final presentation :)

Networking is something you know you're supposed to do, but aren't always sure how to do it productively. People often feel forced to network, even though it brings meaningful connections in future, it also brings uncomfortable feelings at the beginning.
User insights:

  • A lot of people view networking as a strange and artificial activity, stepping out of comfort zone
  • People are often overwhelmed when they visit conferences and networking events alone, they find it challenging to start networking with strangers
  • They prefer to stick to someone they already know instead of going to talk to someone new
  • People find it embaressing to promote themselves
  • People forget names of new acquaintance
  • Attendees are looking for connections, but their time is valuable. Main goal is not to get your business cards into the hands of as many people as possible, but to build meaningful connections
  • Similar networking applications are overcomplicated
"I find networking events the most awkward and forced situations I've ever been in"
"Yes! I want new connections! I make a list of events to visit. I print my business cards. And go…omg…terribly embarrassed..."
Graphic designer
"People are afraid of the unknown. A new person is always a new universe. Do not believe someone who says that he does not worry a bit when communicating with a new person. The thing is to develop the skill and add excitement (passion?)."
Marketing manager
We applied Design Thinking process all the way through the project. We defined, investigated and re-imagined the problem, then prototyped and tested it on users.
Design Thinking Process

  • Discover
  • Ideate
  • Define
  • Prototype
  • Test
  • Refine
  • Deliver

  • User interview
  • Persona
  • User journey map
  • Empathy mapping
  • Brainstorming
  • Usability testing
  • Design critique
We've generated too many nice ideas for each stage of the User Journey Map.

Prioritised solutions by voting with color sticky dots.

Problems and solutions:

  • Wearable device can help you put your phone away, just go and talk. So let's design a Smart badge that enhances networking, accompanied with a mobile app.
  • It's easier to start communication if you know something about the person, like profession, interests, we could solve this through the matching mechanics, like business Tinder.
  • People want to have possibility to quickly exchange contacts to follow up and stay connected, they also want to remember how they got to know the particular person. So let's create some contact scanning, code scanning or tel bumping contact exchange functionality.
  • People stay with those they already know instead of initiating networking with strangers. To motivate people network we introduce gamification like gathering points, called Bagels, providing statistics on networking progress and encouraging messages by a cute assistant Bagel Bro all the way.
User flow hand wireframing
I guess it was the moment we realised that a smart badge was actually unnecessary and we abandoned this initial idea.
Smart Badge
[Spoiler] We called off the smart badge concept, but it looks so cool, that I have to share with you!
Badge helps you to lay down the phone and just talk.

Badge paired to the app that makes it easy to openly communicate your being different in any way (LGBTQ, food preferences, introvercy, whatever, actually) or about requiring special attention (e.g. disabilities, allergies, depression etc).

Any personal information that may be challenging to speak out to unfamiliar people during event and networking. By communicating these things people may find other like-minded contacts or help.
    What was wrong with the badge solution:

    • Badge has very limited area (screen) to present information
    • We could solve most of user's problems with just the app
    • Low user value, low feasibility
    • Other technical constraints
    Badge helps to find other like-minded contacts or help.

    User can set the face of the badge and a message he or she wants to communicate.

    Form factor: badge could be placed on the wrist, like watch as well as attached as a badge to the chest.

    It is small, lightweight and fancy.

    User insights:

    During interviews people complained about experience with smart badges or similar devices they used at events.

    • They worked with technical constrains (e.g. pairing with only specific tablets)
    • All contact data from expo was lost
    • Was heavy to wear on the neck all day long for 3 days
    Why Bagel?

    A bagel or a sandwich is typical food to eat in the restaurant at almost any event. A restaurant is a common place to sit and talk to people, even to start a small talk.
    Character: playful, cheerful, friendly

    We gave our app a personality. It's better to have someone supportive and cute, like Bagel Bro.
    Matching visualisation
    App icon
    Bagel Bro Assistant
    "Hey bro, you are not alone at the event"
    Bagel Bro - a friendly virtual assistant, e.g. chat bot that is always at hand during the event and helps the user with:

    • navigation
    • information
    • motivation
    • gamification
    • inspiration

    Bagel Bro gives tips on today's hot topics and conversation starter phrases in case the user feels hesitant or lost.

    And he shows where the restaurant or WC at the conference hall is!

    I designed a simple chatbot that provides user with event information. Ideally, we thought an AI powered smart virtual assistant would be a proper solution, but in the frames of the course we presented a proof of concept with the help of a chatbot.

    User insights:

    During interviews we found out that orientation on the venue may be challenging on arrival. Having navigation info at hand keeps a user balanced in this stressful situation.
    A user doesn't have to check emails, sms, invitation links, tickets, maps to get info about the location, floor plan of the venue, timetable. Bagel Bro provides this information all in one place on user's demand.
    Final Presentation
    At Prezi HQ in Budapest
    The moment I realised that I actually like to present
    Made on