Timeframe & Team:

Aug 2021 - Jan 2022
Team of 3
My Roles:

- Researcher
- Designer
- Tester
- Project Lead
Skills Employed:

- Design Thinking
- Heuristic Evaluation
- Interviews Design
- Survey Design
- Personas
- User Journey Maps
- Flowcharting
- Wireframing
- Prototyping
- Usability Testing
- Stakeholder Interviews
- Competitive Analysis
- Product Thinking

- Figma
- Miro
- Photoshop
- Qualtrics
A Client-based Course Project with Grindr

Grindr is a location-based social networking app for the queer community. With the goal of connecting members within the queer community, it has grown into the most prominent product in this category with millions of active daily users since its launch in 2009.

And during the semester of Fall 2021, Grindr came to our team as our course client with the business goal of discovering new opportunities in improving its overall experience for users of age 18-34, which makes up almost half of Grindr's user base.



We started the project with efforts of problem-finding. Since Grindr was not able to provide any interviewees or user data, we had to construct our understanding of the audience on our own. We recruited Grindr users using social media, Grindr itself, and in-person connections around us. And using a combination of interviews and surveys, we were able to collect a wide range of raw user inputs relating to their interactions with Grindr.

Four Major Categories of Findings

After our analysis, we extracted the points expressed by Grindr users both directly and implicitly in our raw data and categorized them into four rough categories.

Insight: Users Defined by Two Dimensions of Trait

And we were able to synthesize three types of persona for Grindr from our those raw data.

We found that the different personas can be mapped onto two continuous behavioral variables.

Those variations define their varying goals and traits. But they all feel negatively towards the same points during their journey in Grindr. And that by catering to the the two extrema personas, we can satisfy all three personas' needs.


To define the challenges that we want to work on, we first eliminated issues that are out of scope (e.g. paywall and too many ads) and external factors we cannot control (e.g. stagnating pool of users due to population size).

Then, we leveraged our insights from the personas and put them into context with two User Journey Maps to discover pivotal issues and corresponding design opportunities.

User Journeys: Different Goals, Similar Needs

Challenges & Design Opportunities

Lastly, we looked through the lens of Grindr's mission to "Connect queer people with one another and the world", vision of "A world where all queer people belong; empowered to connect, love, live joyfully, and build authentic community" and it values for "Working together, inclined to action, making moves right now for a better future. Exploring ourselves, our identities, our communities, and the world."

As a result, we have identified the issues that are the most impactful within the constraints of this project


Design Goals

To start addressing the defined challenges, we have set design goals on a high level drawing from all of our previous research to envision a better experience for our users, and we develope metrics to measure if we have met those goals.

Design Approaches: As-is vs To-be Workflows

Then, we mapped out and examined in detail Grindr's current work flows related to the points where we saw initial design opportunities from our the user journey maps. This allowed us to gain a comprehensive understanding of Grindr while allowing us to establish more granular design approaches to materlize our design goals.


Information Architecture

After initial brainstorming, we have mapped out our changes and addition in the Information Architecture.

Lo-fi Rapid Prototype for Validation

After establishing the approaches, our team started to brainstrom and design the prototype embodiying those ideas.

Validation Testing

We conducted testing of our lo-fi prototype, and it showed that our design indeed improved the experience compared to the design before.

Major Iteration

During the testing, we also iterated our design based on feedback. One of the major iterations was the default grid -- we decided to employe the mixed grid as default because it aided the users to distinguish between differnt types of intentions more effortlessly.

Final Prototype

Redesigned Grid to support more useful information
Old design.
When a user opens up Grindr, the Grid is the first thing they see. And the old design crams the visual
New Design
The new Grids add more information at a glance.
Allowing users to quickly take in decision-making infromation
Visual+Text Mixed Grid
In addition, we have created a new Grid that caters to  text-focused users for even more information
New "Meet Now" Status
Users can now use "Meet Now" status to indiciate real-time desire to meet. The stauts will active for 15 minutes if not manually renewed, and the user can manually deactivate at any point.
New space for intermediate interactions
A new "Lounge" takes the place of the second page of home. It hosts "Posts" and "Events" and is categorized by "Tags" for users to concregrate and connect with each other based on kinks, interests, or hobbies without having to cold start.

Provides a richer medium than Profile for users to demonstrate their personality and preference while discovering other users of interst through contents. Enabling users to showcase themselves and know others more comprehensively.
Facilitates in-person interactions by enabling users to easily create and display small, personal activities that other users can discover, respond, and join spontaneously. Thereby sparking freshness and fostering relationships more likely to last.
More Relevant Filters
With the addition of "Tags", we have added the abilty to filter profiles by them.

And with Reverse Filters, users can control by whom they are seen.

These give users finer control of their presence on Grindr.
Redesigned Profile
Old profile
Redesigned Profile
New layouts provide a less intimidating, yet richer and more modern way of presenting the information in a profile. We have also added a student verification badge for quick identification of students users among younger users.

A smooth transition to a more text-focused layout is just one swipe away, encouraging more attention.
Improved "Tap"
The original "Tap"encourages toxic behavior. While the new one combines the familiart visuals with inuitive paradigm to add friction. Encouraging the users to think before sending out taps
Private Album + Info
Information that is in Private Album + Info will have its content redacted and only available upon request, but its exsistence will still be shown. And for users that are hesistant to upload personal information but still want to be approached, this provides a new way to show willingness while maintaing privacy.
"Post" + "Event" Integration
Contents posted by the user will also be included in the profile page to better help demonstrate the user's personality interests in situ.

Maintaining consistency with Grindr's current Design System

We used the same typography, components and colors that Grindr currently employed to inform our design.

Results + Impact

After we delivered to the Grindr team, we collaborated with them to launch some of the features.

Implementation + Prioritization

Some features, like Private Album and Tags are implemented as we evaluated the impact would be the greatest. But other changes, as the client informed us, would take years of deveopment effort to come to fruition. We were therefored tasked with recommending what should be done first.


What could be improved?

During our research phase, we were not able to recruit a diverse audience. Our interview participants did not include any non cis male, and their ages were heavily skewed towards the 20-32 group. We thereby were only able to rely on survey and literature review to extract insight on neglected populations. The sample size of our research was also not as large as we hoped it would be. We would defintely improve on our user research if we had more resources.

Future steps

We are keenly aware that our redesign is a large overhaul of the current experience. Thereby it would need thorough testing to obatin data and iterate our design on both the high-level and the details before it can be formally moved into the next phase of devlopement.

Zhaohui Zhao