Parents and Technology - A UX Research on How parents use WhatsApp!📱

This case study is a part of 10kdesigners Masterclasss Assignment.

Introduction

WhatsApp has always been everyone’s favorite app from youngsters to elders but the most popular among the elders. The same people who scolded us for being glued to the phone now spend most of their time using WhatsApp. Who would have thought such a revolutionary change would take place and not by the Internet or any Software but just by an app. It replaced SMS and Messaging and introduced several other features like voice messages so the people who can’t type would easily use the feature to connect with others. WhatsApp has become The One for All.

Brief

The task was to perform the research to understand how parents use WhatsApp. The purpose is to develop an understanding of their behavior, usage patterns, and gather findings that can be distilled into insights.

Getting Started

For the secondary research

🔎 I looked up for other case studies

📖 Read the blogs discussing parents and technology.

📱 After that I looked through my parents phone noting down how many WhatsApp groups they are a part of, how many are active what type of people are in their contacts etc.

🖊 Based on this data and years of my observing them using the app I wrote down some points/hypothesis.

Some of the References :

My Hypothesis

Dad

💬 He doesn’t reply much to the texts/messages

☎ Doesn’t know WhatsApp calling exists

🤔 Unaware of most of the features

🙅‍♂️ Never posts on Status

📹 Likes to watch forwarded videos, messages, and jokes

Mom

🧹 Clears group chats due to lack of space on the phone

📲 Occasionally posts status

👶 Mostly puts my childhood pics as her profile picture.

Findings from the interviews

My mom has a Facebook account but she rarely opens it. She isn’t a fan of posting stuff and also fined the interface difficult to use. She likes WhatsApp more because she just has to read any important messages.

“I have a Facebook account but I prefer using WhatsApp because there are no random people just friends and family, also it feels more secure” -Mom

“We don’t have everyone’s contact number but WhatsApp groups brings everyone together”- Mom

Most elders easily fall for fake forwarded messages playing tricks with their minds.Affinity Mapping

Affinity Mapping

Sharing a contact in WhatsApp — User journey Map

  • Option 1
  • Option 2
  • A first time user will never know how to do it unless he explored the app looking through all the features. Parents / Elders usually just care about the task they want to accomplish and not the features except they are tech-savvy or inquisitive. They tend not to click somewhere they don’t understand.
  • If someone teaches you how to do it / where the icon for the same is, there are lots of steps involved and users find it hard to remember.
  • Sharing a contact is not a usual task and only is done when it’s needed. So it’s hard for the user to remember the steps/process.

In my dad’s case, he had done this several times before of course with my assistance but when I asked him to perform the task he didn’t remember even step 1 of Option 2. After leading him to click the link/attach icon he did well for a while then got confused between the ‘Next’ and ‘Send’ button. He clicked the ‘Next’ button thinking it was the last step. then got confused with the tick in the checkbox with the ‘Send’ option. After seeing another big green button he clicked it which was the actual ‘Send’ button and the task was done with so much struggle.

Insights: My Dad tends to look at options at the top of the screen more than the options at the bottom.

User Surveys

Whatsapp Research Survey

Why people use WhatsApp and which features do they usually use.

Some specific features they might be using

Pain points and Insights

From the interviews and surveys, I noticed that many of the features are not being utilized making the apps sole purpose to simply messaging.

Reasons:

Feature notifications: WhatsApp doesn’t notify users regarding newly added WhatsApp features. (People are unaware of recent features like Payment and Broadcast.

Discoverability:

Some features are not easily discoverable like ‘ adding new contact’ feature and ‘Search’ feature in chat.

Feature clarification:

The search feature in chat inside the three-dot menu doesn’t clarify the function. Users wonder why there is a search in the first place. They only know to search for contacts that they do by clicking on the search icon on the home page. So the search feature in the chats section should clearly indicate what it is for i.e to find the desired text message in the chat by typing a keyword.

“I have only seen search icon on the homepage and I use it to search contacts.” — Dad

“ I noticed the search icon in the chat section but I didn’t know what to do with it. So I have never used it.” — Mom

The green button which leads to create a new contact or a new group doesn’t give clarification of the feature. Users get afraid don’t even think of clicking the button due to fear of doing something wrong. So they usually avoid it.

“I don’t know what it is for. I never clicked that button. I was scared I thought something might go wrong if I clicked it.” — Dad

It could be seen from the survey that 52.6% of users find it difficult to search for text media etc .

#Problem 2 — Why there are so many inactive groups on the user's phone?

Many group chats remain inactive and there is no way to know how many are inactive.

Reasons:

  • The only way to differentiate between groups and personal chats are the names.
  • There is no separate groups and chats page and all are in a single list.
  • The inactive groups go to the bottom as the recent chats at the top so these groups get lost in the stack. Users need to scroll all the way to the bottom to find such groups.

Let’s see some examples people use WhatsApp for :

Studies in lockdown

-Wedding Invitations

-Keeping in touch with patients

-Connecting with your Friends and Families

-Business/ Marketing

Learnings:

  • I use the app daily so at first, I thought I knew all the basic features.
  • I always found WhatsApp to be simple and easy so I never discovered any faults with it but doing this research I realized not everyone is me, and as youngsters, we are far more comfortable with technology and understand it more than our elders.
  • It was insightful to look at the app from our parent's perspective who were the target users for this research.
  • It made me realize that I am not the user and not all users are like me or think like me.
  • Lots of factors matter in the thinking process for an individual and everyone’s different.
  • This research really broadened my perspective of the users and thinking from the user's point of view greatly helped me with the process.

Thank you for reading!

Special thanks to Abhinav Chhikara for his constant guidance.

Check out my other case study here 👇

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Product designer

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Sampada Sherlekar

Sampada Sherlekar

Product designer

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