September 6, 2022
July 24, 2019

The Gradient at work: Building a smart personal contact app

Aleksandra Smelianska
Marketing Manager

How we took up the challenge to take the pain out of keeping your contacts up to date and organized.

Expertise: UX Strategy, UX /UI Design, User Testing, Digital Branding, Requirements Management, Product Management, Product Marketing.

Project Team: Agency Partner, Product Designer, Business Analyst, Product Manager/ Product Marketer.

Platforms: iOS and Android.

The brief

There is a reason why almost every time a ‘personal CRM’ product comes out, it says it takes the pain out of managing personal contacts. Contact management space is a common problem, and only growing larger.

Today, we communicate with people across various communication platforms, including emails, messengers and chat apps. From personal experience, we at The Gradient understand the difficulty of maintaining contact lists and ever-growing contact books.

Connections are our most valuable assets. The more connections we get over time, the harder it becomes to navigate and organize our network.

The client came to us with an idea of a product that resonated with our own pain. That’s why we took the challenge of creating a beautiful and simple contact app.

Removing complexity

During the initial research stage, our product team learned that:

  • most of the traditional CRM products on the market are too complicated and robust for personal use 🙅
  • many people are still keeping their list of contacts in spreadsheets, it takes a lot of effort and time.

Researching the users’ pain of keeping contacts in tedious spreadsheets and address books, we wanted to create something better. A product that would strip away the effort and frustration.

Everyone designs who devises courses of action aimed at changing existing situations into preferred ones. — Herbert A. Simon

Our goal was to create a super simple user experience that would make navigating personal network easy and fast.

Discovery and Research phase

There are a few methods we used in the discovery phase to jump-start this particular project.

In the beginning, we had a number of assumptions about the problems which we will be solving during our design process. Discovery and research is an important phase at the beginning of a project that helps both our clients and our design team to understand the real pains and problems that we are trying to solve.

A great product is a response to a painful problem, and we use research to make sure we know everything about that problem. First, we should have an understanding of:

  1. Who are the users we are designing for?
  2. What are the key tasks those users want to accomplish?

Our potential target audience for the content management solution was incredibly wide and included people who have to manage thousands of contacts at work and their daily lives, for example, top managers, HR managers, entrepreneurs, professional networkers. Working with personas was not an optimal technique in this case.

We decided to follow the Jobs-to-be-Done methodology instead, which is often considered as better suited than personas for product development due to the fact that it’s more objective and measurable. This methodology uses “jobs” as a metaphor to explain what people are trying to achieve when they buy a particular product.

According to Jobs-to-be-Done theory, ‘customers are not buying your products, they are hiring them to get a job done’. Our goal was to understand what that job is and identify what would motivate customers to hire our product.

The key to success is understanding, from the customer’s perspective, what the entire job is and making that job the main point of value creation in a product.

We started by conducting numerous user interviews and identifying the most common tasks and pain points when managing their contacts.

Visualizing user pain points and pain relievers

We learned that there were many different ways people capture and organize their contacts. Our next step was writing job stories for our users, for example:

  • When I don’t remember the contact’s name, I want to be able to find it by a keyword.
  • When I don’t have my business card with me, I want to be able to share my contact information by using the app.
  • When I’m visiting a conference, I want to be able to add information from a paper business card to my contact list.
Job stories board

Understanding of the customer’s Jobs-to-be-Done informed our design decisions going forward.

After the research and discovery, we set out the primary challenges that we heard repeatedly from the users and wanted to solve with Tweedo. Together with the client, we worked on the User Journey Maps and UX flows and examined every detail that could be simplified or improved. We determined the desired outcomes of refreshing the contact management experience.

Making navigating personal network easy

One hub for all contacts

Our research reinforced the assumption that managing various contact lists requires a ton of manual data entry and is extremely frustrating. We decided that our application should have integrations with the most popular communication platforms: email accounts, social networks, and messengers.

But in reality, we were not able to implement everything as it was planned. 🤔Already in the process of product development, we faced with API limitations by major social networks and messengers.

As a result, in the first beta version of Tweedo app users could automatically add and synchronize contacts from their phone book, Google contacts and email, Outlook, iCloud, Slack and Telegram.

It’s an end-to-end experience that automates contact synchronization and storing.

iOS app designs

Organizing contacts

During numerous user interviews, our design team discovered that one of the issues that many users experienced was remembering all the names in their contact list, as well as the context for them. The deeper understanding of the “searching for a contact” cycle informed our design decisions.

Our goal was to make navigating a user’s contact list effortless and make contacts super accessible with UX optimized for easy sorting and grouping of contacts.

Contact sorting

Blazing fast search

In many cases, search is not a discrete product or feature but simply a part of how the product works. So users expect that search is a well-integrated function of a well-designed product.

One of our goals was to help users navigate their network effortlessly and find any contact by any context they remember, for example by location, title, company name or any keyword.

Tags and Segments

When it comes to organizing contacts (and many of us have hundreds or thousands of them) Tweedo offers a great flexible tagging system. We made it even easier to organize contacts by grouping them into segments based on a #tag.

Introducing a new way to exchange contacts

With a discovery phase, we found that people capture new contacts in very different ways. For example, at conferences and networking events, the most important step is writing down that huge amount of contacts. While paper business cards are still in use, many are looking for a simple digital solution.

We knew the ability to add and share contact information was essential for our application. Our challenge was to figure out how to give users the ability to do it with just a few taps.

We decided to start by introducing the ‘shake-to-share’ feature.

Tweedo gives you the easiest way to exchange contact details. Simply shake the phone to share your contact information instantly.

Tweedo makes it possible for the users to give their digital contact to anyone. On top of that, Tweedo gives users an accurate way to transform a business card into an electronic record on their phone.

What’s next

We firmly believe that who you know is often more important than what you know. We also believe that we need better tools to help us manage our connections and nurture relationships. That’s what we’re building!

Interested in launching a product or transforming yours?

About author
Aleksandra Smelianska
Aleksandra is a Marketing Manager at The Gradient.

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