Shuang Liu


A mobile dating app for relationship seekers

Individual Project
Jan - Apr 2017
User Interview, Survey, Persona, Literature Review, Interaction Design, Visual Design, Usability Evaluation

Process & Methods


Project Overview

Dating is fun, stressful, exciting and worrisome. Even veteran daters can't say that they have discovered the dating axiom. Bits is a mobile app designed for relationship seekers. Bits guides relationship seekers to take time to get to know each other, build trust and reassurance and go through a smooth transition from online interaction to in-person meetup. Bits aims at maximizing the fun and exciting part of dating and minimizing the stressful and worrisome part.


User Discovery

What is your online dating experience?

7 User Interviews

I interviewed 7 online dating app users (3 men, 4 women, 20-40 years old, college education) about their online dating experience.. My interviews were semi-structured. I asked questions about their dating behaviors such as what they were looking for and how many dates they went on. I also encouraged interviewees to tell stories. My interviews showed that online dating is a good way to quickly meet people and secure dates, but most dates don’t go anywhere.

Survey Study

Based on the insights I gained from user interviews, I sent out a survey and collected 34 responses (Gender: 65% female, 30% male; Age: 82% are 21-30 years old). My participants were a mix of casual daters (41%), relationship seekers (47%), and undetermined (6%). I analyzed my data using Tableau.

Key Insights

  • 97% of respondents had gone on a date with at least 1 person.
  • All relationship seekers went on dates, but 42% of relationship seekers failed to develop a serious relationship from online dating (see figure 3).
  • 83% of online daters talk to more than 1 person at a time (see figure 1).
  • 57% of respondents only go on dates with more than 1 person at a time (see figure 2).
Key Takeaways

Relationship seekers have unmet needs

I organized my notes into an affinity diagram. In summary, online dating is great for meeting new people and getting dates. But online daters had frustrating experiences with both online interactions and in-person dates. Casual daters are satisfied with fast-matching and plentiful dating opportunities. However, relationship seekers have many unaddressed needs.

Key Pain Points

  • The misalignment of dating goals between matches leads to disappointment.
  • It is hard to build trust with a stranger.
  • Online conversations sometimes get very awkward or even uncomfortable.
  • Dating sometimes is a one-person effort.
  • The online to offline process usually does not go smoothly.
Problem Framing

How might we create a dating app where relationship seekers can have high quality dating experience?

Persona Development

Design for relationship seekers

I developed 3 personas from user research and my existing knowledge of the online dating population. My personas are people who look for long-term relationships. They value quality over quantity. Casual daters are the anti-persona of my project.



Literature Review & Competitive Analysis

Behavior Patterns in Online Dating

To learn about online dating behaviors from a larger population, I conducted literature review. I read about 10 research journal articles. I learned that because of limited information on dating profiles, people tend to make quick judgments. People who are good at self-representation are the winners of online dating. Therefore, many daters try to inflate their dating profile.

Idea Exploration


8 Dating Ideas

I started with sketching out 8 wild dating ideas and developed storyboards for each idea.

  1. Selecting matches by art, not selfies
  2. Meeting through hobbies/activities
  3. Getting to know each other by volunteering
  4. Getting to the heart through the stomach
  5. Building a game - World of Lovecraft
  6. House swapping - knowing the real you

Consolidated Idea: Bits

The common theme across my wild ideas is that people should take time to get to know each other. To align with people's dating habits, the online dating experience should be similar to real-life dating experience. From a crush to the first date, the entire process usually happens over a period of time.

The core idea of my design solution is slow down and get to know each other bit by bit.

Key Features

With the slow dating core concept in mind, I developed solutions to online daters' pain points.


Design Exploration

Sketching & Paper Prototyping

Information Architecture

I created the information architecture to structure my key features. Users read about a match's posts on the feed tab, discover new matches using the explore tab, view and interact with matches on the match tab and post about oneself on the me tab.

Start with paper

I used sketch to experiment with design ideas.

Interaction Map

The Flow of Bits

Key Features

Key Feature 1

Unlock basic info

Disclose demographic information over time

Reveal a match's basic information bit by bit over time as two people gradually get to know each other. Users can only unlock one field of demographic information in the very beginning, as they interact more, they can unlock additional information.

Look through match profiles flowchart
Key Feature 2

Share daily lives

Pain Point: When Fact-Check meets Privacy

It's hard to trust strangers. Online daters had to "stalk" matches' social media for fact checking.

I always try to stalk their LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter etc. to make sure that they were not lying about things.
- Interviewee 1
I don’t want to add them on Facebook, because I have my family, friends and co-workers there.
- Interviewee 6

Make posts or sync social media posts to share stories of daily life.

A dating profile has limited space, but matches can get to know about each other's daily life through posts. Posts can spark good conversations.

Get to know more about each other

After two people became a match, they could see each other's posts on the feed tab. All of their interactions are only visible to the two of them.

Key Feature 3

Level Up Together

It's hard to tell how passionate the other person is. Futile efforts in texting and scheduling dates lead to big disappointments.

I tried asking her out many times after the first date, but she kept saying she was busy. It took me a while to realize she didn't want to see me anymore.
- Interviewee 6

Use a reward system to encourage both people to put in an effort.

Both users have to interact with each order to level up. If only one person puts in an effort, the pair won't get to level up. Each new level they reach, they unlock more interactions. For example, at level 1, they can only view and like each other's posts. When they reach level 2, they can unlock one more basic information field and comment on each other's posts.

Key Feature 4

Ease the online to offline transition

Great online interaction does not guarantee a pleasant first date. Daters have to find their own way of managing the online to offline transition. In the context of dating, it can be hard to find a balance between staying true to oneself and impressing the other person.

(On our first date) The guy asked me whether it was okay for him to eat his leftover burrito at the restaurant because he did not have money. I felt bad so I bought him dinner. It was very super weird.
- Interviewee 1

Bits helps users have the perfect first date.

Users set their preferences in the setting page. Bits helps with scheduling the first date based on both users' preferences and budgets. Bits gives recommendations on restaurants, activities, budgets and informs both users of the other person's preferences.

Prototyping & Testing

Design Evolution

Iterative Design

My research findings showed that online daters try to impress potential matches through carefully crafted or even inflated profiles. My design goal is to encourage daters to focus more on what the person is like than physical attractiveness and social status.

3 design options for dating profiles

I sketched out 3 different design ideas for the match profile page (initial impression screen and more info screen) and used the QOC (Questions, Options, Criteria) Analysis to explore different design possibilities.

Stop recurrent movements, make conscious choices

I removed the "like/dislike" buttons from the first impression page, so that users have to scroll down to view more information of the match before the user makes a decision.

Wows, Frowns and Nice-to-haves

Design Validation

8 Usability Evaluations

I conducted 2 rounds of usability evaluation (4 for my paper prototype and 4 for the digital prototype).

From a paper usability testing session

Key Takeaways

  1. Users are not sure what points are and how to earn points.
  2. Users have different interpretations of what “Back in Queue” does.
  3. A vertical carousel is unnatural. Users are more used to a horizontal carousel.
  4. For users with no online dating experience, they are not familiar with the design pattern.

25 Concept Tests

I presented my design idea and demonstrated the InVision prototype to 25 participants and gathered feedback.


  • Slows down the online dating process.
  • Shows the history of a digital relationship.
  • Reveals information bit by bit.
  • Get to know each other before chatting.


  • How to make sure the user information is real?
  • Some people do not like creating posts.
  • More interactions between the users (e.g., playing games together).
  • Some people like to get to know each other through chatting.
The ongoing journey


Bits was designed in spring 2017. As of January 2018, I noticed that Tinder added social media integration; Tinder users now can integrate their Spotify music and Instagram album to their dating profiles. It is great to know that my idea of integrating social media with Bits aligned with the direction the Tinder team is heading towards. In December 2017, Tinder has also introduced a new feature called Feed, available in Australia, Canada and New Zealand. I was not able to check it out since I am in the US, but I would like to know whether there is a similarity between my feed feature and Tinder's feed feature.