Design beyond the design
Fling was designed with the idea of providing people an easier way to discover content from around the world.
Before Fling existed people were only able to share photos and videos with closed circles of friends, within well established social media platforms.
We set off to build a platform where users could:
Easily experience content from places in the world they never knew existed.
Engage with other people effortlessly.
Share their lives with other people in a safe manner.
This case study is divided into 3 parts:
Design and iteration
From the beginning, we focused on providing the best user experience possible. We imagined the experience we wanted to provide to users and then crafted a product that would satisfy those goals. Below you’ll find the story of how Fling was designed.
Hi! I’m Ellie, nice to meet you.
Ellie is 16 years old, raised in Great Britain and currently in secondary school. Her mum bought her an iPhone last year which Ellie uses to browse apps when bored. She uses Snapchat and Instagram on a daily basis. Ellie travels once a year in Summer break with her parents.
Ellie consumes and shares content exclusively from her circle of friends. Lillie travels once a year on family holidays, she plans to travel the world more when she’s a bit older, maybe after University.
Ellie rarely experiences completely unknown, out-of-the-ordinary “things” that help her grow as a person.
Ellie uses Fling for the first time
Fling allows Ellie to explore “unknown places” through real-time media from around the world. Ellie learns that she can also share her own photos and videos if she feels like it.
When Ellie opens a Fling from Pratheep in India, she lives that moment through Pratheep’s perspective at the time.
“It’s like a window into Pratheep’s life”
– Ellie realises
Ellie sits in her living room and “travels” to different parts of the world through the app, Fling has allowed Ellie to discover many places she never knew existed.
Ellie can also chat with Pratheep, thanks to that, she has just learnt that India experiences six seasons a year: Summer, Autumn, Winter, Spring, Summer monsoon and Winter Monsoon.
Ellie is now interested in visiting India one day.
Have fun Ellie : )
What's a Fling?
Flings are small moments in someone’s life, distributed at random. Think of a modern message in a bottle thrown out to the world for someone to find.
We wanted to make each individual Fling feel special, like a message inside a bottle waiting to be read. Utilising a real object to convey the concept of a digital one was the way forward.
Like any letter, we needed to provide context like; where in the world it came from, when it was sent and who sent it. This would help to make Flings more appealing before someone opened them.
With the idea of keeping each Fling special and surprising, Flings aren’t immediately visible. Unlike Facebook or Instagram, Flings arrive in a “Closed” state and a user has to hold down to view them.
As any model for content consuming, hold to view has some disadvantages in terms of effort but has proven to be incredibly addictive. Flings feel that they come alive when you touch them.
There are 3 types of Flings that can be sent: Text, photo and video.
Design and iteration
High Level Information Architecture
Fling clients (iOS and Android) are super light and tasked with as little as possible, we defer tasks to our back end to allow us to rapidly iterate. This gives the Fling team more freedom because the back-end is free from review times.
Wire-framing and idea exploration
Human centred design right from the start; it was very important for us to keep our users always in mind. For every interaction we drafted, we made sure that 3 core pillars of usability (Tognazzini) were present: Discoverability, Feedback and Recovery.
The basic operations the interface offers are easy to discover and there’s a clear message of what the app is capable of. Basic actions aren’t hidden behind gestures, unless those gestures are widely known or established mental-models. Gestures while delighful and time saving, represent a high cognitive load on users at first.
Feedback acknowledges people’s actions, shows them the results, and updates them on the progress of their task. Feedback should be provided to users as much as is necessary. Subtle animation can give people meaningful feedback that help clarify actions.
“Undo” and “Redo” are visible and easy to trigger. Software that doesn’t allow users to go back to previous states feel punitive and may discourage future exploration.
Some examples of User flows and UX maps:
Aesthetic integrity doesn’t measure the beauty of an app’s artwork or characterise its style; rather, it represents how well an app’s appearance and behaviour integrates with its function to send a coherent message.
We were very thoughtful to this stage in the process, the app is the medium in which our users will directly interact with our product. Fling was meticiously designed with beautiful, easy to understand, and engaging graphics that draw people into the app with the intention of making the simplest task rewarding.
An intention was for the app to feel; fast, inviting, and responsive to user input. We wanted to delight and guide users with motion without distracting them. We also wanted the app to feel like a friendly environment for them to share their moments with the world.
Selected UI Screens:
Given to the wild
Early notes on “Sending on Fling”:
“Sending is a very important part of Fling, no other social media app allows users to distribute content around the world at random, but how do we make the intangible tangible? A call to action with the word “send” on it falls short at communicating the concept clearly”
A world map where users can see their content landing in different parts of the world proved to be a much better way. The map educates whilst delighting users.
Here are some of the milestones Fling has achieved so far:
Empowering the world to share
These are real Flings, sent from people around the world to each other:
Fling helped some people find love
Some found friendships
Others sang songs….