Case Study ExpatBuddy

ExpatBuddy is a web app designed to help expats and migrants adjust to their new home by offering useful tools and professional expert advice.

the Challenge

What if there was an app for expats?

  • Many people experience problems when moving to another country: After some time differences between the old and new culture become apparent and create anxiety.
  • Excitement may eventually give way to unpleasant feelings of frustration and anger as one continues to experience unfavorable events that may be perceived as strange and offensive.
  • People adjusting to a new culture often feel lonely and homesick because they are not yet used to the new environment and meet people with whom they are not familiar.
  • The language barrier may become a major obstacle in creating new relationships.

The Approach

Good user experience design starts with a good idea but after that it’s an iterative process requiring collaboration between multiple teams and end users. Designing a solution without research, analysis and testing doesn’t work, because it is hard to know enough about the problem without asking the potential end-user or knowing the competition:

1. UNDERSTAND 

Competitive analysis, research & business requirement

2. IDEATE

User personas, user journey, information architecture

3. DESIGN

Wireframing, prototyping, and testing, testing, testing

4. PRESENT

Tone of voice, design language, handover assets

1. Understand

Surveys & User Interviews

Through a filter survey I identified users between 25-35 with different cultural backgrounds who had lived at least one year abroad. With surprising results:

  • NO CULTURE SHOCK
    Due to increased globalization of many communities in the last 20 years „culture shock“ is not as pronounced as it use to be 20 years ago.
  • EXPATS STAY IN THEIR BUBBLE
    Streaming services, online news, and local expat communities keep migrants in their native language bubble.
  • ENGLISH IS SPOKEN EVERYWHERE
    The use of English as a lingua franca has become so widespread that speaking the local language is no longer necessary, eliminating barriers to entry.
  • EMPLOYERS COCOON THEIR EMPLOYEES
    Big employers or universities take care of bureaucratic hurdles, softening friction and eliminating language barriers.

Competitor Analysis

A competitive analysis revealed: many tools expats use, such as facebook groups, WhatsApp groups and websites such as expat.com, tealit.com, forumosa.com, gokunming.com, lack important aspects:

Lack Of Moderator
No Quality Controls
Limited Accessibility
No Trust In Experts

The actual needs and painpoints of expats

Research uncovered, however, that expats have very specific needs that have not yet been met by an app or online tool in a comprehensive way: How do I find lawyers, tax accountants or doctors nearby, who speak English? Where do I find other expats in my city who can help me with problems? Why is there no platform which offers entertaining tutorials specifically for expats?


Community

Users are looking for likeminded expat-buddies nearby, i.e. location based communities

CURATED CONTENT

They are also looking for tutorials, how-to’s, and entertaining explainers specifically for expats

EXPERT ADVICE

They are ready to pay for advice and services when the experts are part of a trusted community

2. Ideate

User Personas

„I don’t mind paying for expert advice, but is has to be excellent and trustworthy


Feedback from users was aggregated to user personas.

User Journeys

How do people actually use the product? This is a fundamental question. User journey mapping is an excellent exercise that can shed light on that. In this case: booking and expert, for example a translator. Or finding information (i.e. a tutorial) on how to register a car at the DMV.

Wireflows

As there is no comparable app that could have inspired the design, page types and user flows were mapped to get a better understanding of how to combine aspects, such as community, expert listings, tutorials and forums.

3. Design

Wireframes & Prototypes

To determine the main functionality of the app, iterative testing produced improved wireframes and prototypes.

User Testing

The objective of the usability testing was to determine if participants understand what the app is about (i.e., an application for finding local community support and expert advice) and the value it provides. Specifically, users were asked to navigate the prototypes and perform specific tasks, such as finding and booking an expert.

4. Present

Look & Feel

Colors should convey an editorial and businessy look and feel and inspire trust: variations of blue, turquoise, purple and grey (aside from the usual black and white). The brand values adventure, discovery and friendship should be expressed through imagery that conveys the ambiance of “digital nomads” and use people interacting in natural way.

Tools used

Sketch
FIGMA
InVision
Card sorting