This was a chat application I was commissioned to design as the client wanted a live experiment to learn more about spending behaviour in mobile games.
Many games out there rely on a collection of different mechanics and dynamics in order to hook the player and get them to spend, but there wasn't enough information out there that could tell us what, in its simplest form, is the main reason (or reasons) as to why people will spend a lot of money in mobile games.
We believed that "status" was the main reason for spending, and that people will spend money to increase their status in games, and will spend a ridiculous amount in order to guard and keep that status.
If this was to be a true experiment, we needed to control the environment as much as possible. We needed to answer, "what is the least amount of 'game' that we can make, and that encourages people to spend money for their status?".
We came up with a simple chat application, and every time you send a message, it displays your name, your location, and your level. If you want to increase your level, you must pay a dollar.
Messages are posted in white text into the chat, but the top 1% of the users who have the highest level will have their name displayed in blue text. That's it. If someone bumps you out of the 1% by having a higher level than you, you lose the blue text on your messages. So the idea is that people that get bumped out of the 1% will then spend more to get back into the 1%.
Since this was a low-risk project, and meant to be a quick experiment, we agreed on a Lean UX approach. It did not require a lot of upfront research, but instead, the plan was to track usage and metrics after release to justify future iterations.
Once the solution was locked down and requirements were agreed upon, the wireframes were done quickly using Balsamiq and reviewed with the client.
Here you can see some of the wireframes I made.
From discovery sessions with the client, it was clear that they wanted this app to make the user feel like they were wealthy and lived a luxurious lifestyle. After going through about 10 websites of companies that branded themselves as high-class and luxurious, we started writing down patterns we noticed. This gave me fuel for some moodboards.
I presented the client with three moodboards, and in the end, we landed on the mood that felt like a luxurious pocketbook, since the main thing to do in this app was to write. Black leather, lots of gold with varying levels of shine, and a few accent colours for important messages.
Mockups went back and forth with the client until we agreed on the layout and styling.
There were even a few extra screens that were created to hit the requirements, but in order to stay true to the Lean UX approach, we decided that we should reduce scope and release only what was necessary to prove our hypothesis, and revisit the additional screens if the data collected afterwards suggested we should.
Documentation and More
Next was the documentation to communicate the designs back to the client so they could share it with their developers.
While the backend was being worked on, I also took this opportunity to teach myself everything else in the process of releasing and Android app to the world, such as researched the submission process, learning how microtransactions work, legalalities, and the website splash page.
I wish I could give you some stats on this project, but the app itself was never completed. The client had programmers lined up but I don't think they ever did anything with it. I would love to see it finished one day. The designs are done, so if you would like to see the rest of them, or want to build this yourself, just ask and I would be happy to put you in contact with my client.