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FROG IN A WELL



A playful solution to the "Filter Bubble" problem that pervades News and Social Media spaces. A behavior-changing app that casually expands world views through storytelling.

Role: Product Design, Visual Design, User Research
Tool: Figma
Timeline: 4 weeks - Fall 2020

Team: Chris Han, Elysha Tsai, Catherine Wang







PROBLEM SPACE


What is a “filter bubble?”

“Filter Bubble” is a term coined by internet activist Eli Pariser, and refers to a state of intellectual isolation that results from personalized web searches and social media feeds when an algorithm calculates what content the user would like to see based on the user’s information (such as their location, age, and click-behavior).

A Positive Feedback Loop




Why is it a problem?

Filter Bubbles can result in a homogeneous feed that lacks differing opinions, uncomfortable information, and challenging thoughts. By feeding off of one’s confirmation biases, it can simultaneously discourage independent thinking and learning outside of one’s existing worldview.





RESEARCH



Interviews & Surveys

We did one-on-one interviews with CMU students to get an in-depth look on their opinions of social media's pros and cons. We also conducted online surveys via Instagram polls to get a broad view of how social media impacts users. We had around 200 participants.




Persona & Stakeholder Map

In order to clarify the goals of our app, we nailed down our target audience and mapped out the stakeholders involved.  





IDEATION


Narrative

We wanted a lighthearted yet memorable user experience, so we borrowed the Chinese allegory of a the “frog in a well”(井底之蛙), in which the frog mistakes the little patch of sky above its well for the whole wide world. The story became our overarching theme and the frog became an avatar for the user.



 
Left to Right: Concept explorations of start screen. Mini game that encourages users to furnish and upgrade their well through engaging with new information.

Prototype

Through these initial prototypes, we were able to nail down what our app is about and get rid of extraneous features.




SOLUTION


"Well," a behavior-changing app that gives the user 3 recommended articles per day, with the goal of widening the user's world view little by little.



Opening the App: The user is greeted by the little frog and given the 3 daily recommendations.


Building the Well: All of Well’s recommendations are made by the users themselves. Users can make recommendations whenever they want, simply by sharing the article they are currently reading to the Well community.


A Human-Centered Algorithm

Because our content is based on user input, we wanted an algorithm that can perform quality control that involves both human and machine.






BRANDING


We wanted something that's inviting, playful, and unique, so we did not go with a realistic color palette of nature, but opted for a muted near-complimentary of purple and orange. Because it is an educational app, we picked fonts that are simple, friendly, and very readable.






REFLECTION


Through our research, we realized that Filter Bubble is a very complex problem. It is neither possible nor desirable to get rid of Filter Bubbles completely, because there is a threshold of how much new information a person can consume.

Therefore, our app aims to expand users’ Filter Bubbles by helping them discover interesting topics and places to find these information. It also encourages users to consume information they wouldn’t usually consume.

This is why the users will never really get out of their well. Instead, as they consume more diverse and unfamiliar content, their frog upgrades from a small well to a luxurious one to represent how their worldview has grown and expanded.