ZipPals - iOS Native App Case Study

Video: ZipPals Walk-through


2 Sprints

iOS Native App

My Role

UX Researcher

Designer, Team Lead



ZipPals is a concept mobile application building from scratch that is designed to help people build meaningful friendships locally. During the research, our team found that New Yorkers are eager to make and maintain new friendships but are too busy to put much efforts into this. ZipPals helps New Yorkers to find people with shared interests and suggest events to make new friendship building with minimum efforts.

Methodology in Use

Competitor Landscape
Screener Survey
User Interview
Affinity Mapping
Persona Creation
Design Studio
Feature Prioritization
Mid-Fi Wireframes
Usability Testing
Design and Prototype
High-Fi Prototype
App Flow
Usability Testing
Specification Documentation

Problem Space

Our team investigated the current social/networking product landscape to ensure ZipPals hold a unique perspective. With further user survey and thorough research, we discovered three major challenges that ZipPals needed to resolve.

Safety is a major concern, especially when meeting new connections from online to offline.
Building a trustworthy friend-making experience
People are looking for meaningful friendship, which usually started with shared interests/background.
Improving the likelihood of quality friendships
New York is moving fast. New Yorkers are busy. Efficiency is the theme of NYC lifestyle.
Designing a product to fit New Yorkers' lifestyle

Solutions at a Glance

With deliberate research and rounds of testing and design iterations, ZipPals is equipped with safety and smart matching features to deliver a secure, effective, and efficient (casual) networking experience.

Keep ID in Record for a Safer Community

ZipPals implementes a 2-step ID verification during user profile building process to verify each users and create a trustworthy community for all.

Match Effectively and Keep it Local

ZipPals shows people in the same neighborhood with shared interests to enhance the possibility of building meaningful friendship and save New Yorkers' from NYC traffics.

No More Guesswork, Only More Efficient

ZipPals embeds a activity generator, which suggests public events/places based on both users' interests to further save time and ensure users'safety during offline meetings.

Design Outcomes

After rounds of testing different fidelity prototypes and re-branding the visuals, our product ZipPals was well received by users and the stakeholder. ZipPals achieved a perfect score on usability tests with six potential users while getting stakeholders' recognition for the hi-fi mockup.

ID verification gives me confidence that it's safe to meet people from ZipPals.

hi-fi wireframes in order screenshot
Figure 1. High-Fidelity Mockup

"I'm not sure how these matches come up. But I like it. It's smart and suggest the perfect activity."

Behind the Scene Process


User research was applied throughout the entire product development cycle. By synthesizing data from survey and user interviews, we developed a persona to better understand our target audience and mapped a user journey assessing current processes to resolve pain points. After rounds of usability tests at various stages, we were able to deliver and present the final product to stakeholders. 👉Read more @ Medium.👈

Video 2. Behind the Scene - Selected Process
Design Evolution

We transformed paper sketches from design studio sessions into initial mid-fidelity wireframes. With three rounds of testing and revising, we moved forward to high-fidelity prototypes with a 91.6% success rate. During the second sprint, I went the extra mile to fix minor functional problems and fully update the UI to improve ZipPals' usability and visual design.

Figure 2. Evolution & Iteration: Mid-fi to Hi-fi Designs

What I Learned

From the failure of our Version 1. mid-fidelity wireframes, I learned that an effective UX solution was not a sum of features that each targeting at a different user problem. An overwhelming quantity of content/ features would only confuse users. This process taught me the essence of Nielson's heuristic, "aesthetic and minimalist design".