To increase engagement in our platform, we took our existing 1 on 1 chat feature and expanded it to allow people to create group chats of up to 9 people in any combination they wanted. This feature was released in November 2021 with several small follow ups in December of that year.
Team of 14 as the only designer (Jul 2020 - Oct 2020 & Aug 2021 - Dec 2021)
1,300+ Messages Were Sent In Group Chats In The First 48 Hours After Release
User Experience Design
User Interface Design
Quality Assurance Testing
Parity & UI Updates
Keeping track of all the tricks and holes in different platforms made it almost impossible to add new features. So, the first thing we had to do was make sure the platforms were working the same.
After doing the designs and kicking it off with the engineers, the developers estimated it would take 3 months to complete the project. We couldn't have the entire company (around 35 to 40 people at this point) working on one project for that long, so we completely rearranged the company breaking into teams of 8 to 16 to work on different parts of the product. In this process I became the Product Manager of the Money and Members team, and this project was de-prioritized.
A few months later, the project was reprioritized and a new designer worked with developers to get parity and UI updates done. However, he quit in the middle of kicking off Group Chat, and so I stepped back in to take over.
To start we had to have a new chat button easily available to a user. The plus in the top right corner is standard on many platforms. While that was the main way members created new chats, we also added a line item to let them start a chat from the bottom of their search results.
There are two main ways different platforms let people start group chats:
Web first platforms have a "fill in the blank" system where, when you add a chat, an empty conversation appears and the user types the names of people to add where the names will appear later, as well as give them the option to name the chat.
On mobile first platforms, a list of users will appear and you can add them to a list one at a time via searching for their name or a checklist.
As a platform we wanted to design for more of a mobile first experience and started there.
To add people to the list, a user can either select them from a list of all users, or search for their name. As soon as they select the person, they will be added to the list and the search will be cleared but remain in a focused state so that the creator can quickly add people to the conversation.
When a user has reached the maximum number of people who can be in a conversation we needed a state to block. people from adding anymore people to the list, while still allowing them to progress to the actual conversation.
Once the conversation has been started, people can easily start chatting, as well as see a special conversation list item displaying the group conversation.
In the conversation's more menu, anyone in the conversation can mute it for themselves. This updates the display of the conversation in the conversation list as well as stops all notifications from this conversation.
Because of the way we needed to build chats on the server, a chat's member list cannot change. This means that a member cannot leave a group chat. In order to let people fully ignore a conversation with someone they blocked, we had to combine two existing functionalities. Archiving a conversation removes it from the list of existing conversations in your chat menu, until you receive a new notification. Muting a chat prevents you from receiving any new notifications. Taking both actions permanently archives the chat unless you unblock everyone who was in the conversation, and create it again from scratch.