Summary

Role: Product Designer, UX Designer, Developer
Many people think telecommunications technology is out-of-date even if it had been playing an essential role in our everyday life. Is it possible to make something fun, excited, and new out of it? Secret Sharing is my answer to this challenge. 

Secret Sharing is a fun and free space where a group of people can swap stories anonymously by simply sending SMS. Triggering offline conversation and storytelling is the goal. In order to maintain the reliability, the gamification mechanism has been introduced to not only avoid spamming misbehavior, but also enhancing user engagement.

Secret Sharing has been tried by more than 100 users since the day one when it is available. More than 73% of the user were active and frequent user who have been using it more than 3 times. 

Challenges

  1. Minimum user interface and no fancy visual effects. Since it is based on SMS. The only interface for user to interact with is the basic message functionality on user's cell phone. It differs from smart phone to dumb phone, from brand to brand. 
  2. Maintaining user engagement with limited/no visual engagement, which means content is the key.
  3. Back-end calculating and development.

Goals

  • Create a predictable, simple and and beautiful interaction
  • No boundary. Even dumb phone user can enjoy it
  • Enabling offline conversations. 
  • Fun and wow experience
  • Make it scalable 

Process

Concept Generation

"I want to share my life with my friends. Do I need to have a computer to do so?"
"No, you can do that on you phone."
"That's awesome! Please show me (grab my dumb phone out...)."
"……"

As I mentioned above, telecommunications technology is out-of-date and has limitations. As the other side of the coin, it provides great accessibility and reliabilities. 

Is it possible to create a simple and intuitive social product that is fun and easy for everybody to use based on SMS?

How it works

To initialize the service, user simply shares his/her secret first by sending secret as short message to the server number. Shortly, server will send a secret shared by another user back. As easy as everybody can do it. 

Challenge and Solution

As you can tell, the only "content" in this product is secrets. Guarantee the quality of the secret becomes essential to maintain the user experience. A gamification mechanic has been introduced to achieve that. 

Basically, this gamification mechanic is a tree-like rating system as showed below. Eventually, the quality of the secret the user shared will affect user's level.

 
The rating system, ratings from receivers affects the review of each secret and the ratings of secrets that user shared eventually affect the review of the user. 

The rating system, ratings from receivers affects the review of each secret and the ratings of secrets that user shared eventually affect the review of the user. 

 
 

USER FLOW

1. Users send their secret to the service number

2. The server will immediately save this message and its related information to database. 

3. A random secret will be picked from database and send back to user, most importantly, with attached cookie ( so the twilio will know which random secret has been sent out, because each secret has a specific secret_id as the token of its identity in database) 

4. The secret with attached cookie will send to this user from twilio, also another SMS will be sent subsequently to kindly remind users to send rating back for the secret they just received. 

5 & 6. If the rating had been sent from user, twilio will know which secret this rating is for because it has cookie in it, so the the rating, as an integer from 1--5 will be saved into database as one of the ratings for that specific secret. 

ONE THING WAS UNEXPECTED...

I turned Secret Sharing into a group mourning platform. 
On Dec. 17th, one of our best friends, one of our mates, Justin Restauri passed away right before the beginning of ITP winter show at 1PM... This grievous news made everyone in sorrow. I could not concentrate on the show in the first place and I was thinking what could I do for him. 

I ended up turning my project as a space for remembrance about Justin where everyone could share his/her private memory and receive others' by using my project. 

It went surprisingly well, and many ITPers told me they love this project and they think it is really helpful for getting a better understanding about Justin and doing a group memoirs about passed people. Most importantly, they think the experience this project crafted and delivered is new and accurate. 

Final

I am grateful to have so many participants and inputs to bring depth and more possibility to Secret Sharing. However, there are two things could have been done better to benefit the whole project and overall process:

  1. More participants and user testing would be nessisary and try to test user engagement and activity in a larger community.
  2. Refine the gamification mechanism.