Role: Product Designer
Timeline: 2.5 days
Project Type: Hackathon Project
Team: 1 Designer & 3 PMs
Design Tools: Figma, Canva

Pair is a mobile app that focuses on building accountability to complete an activity by promoting virtual companionship from someone taking part in another activity in real time. Winner of Most Aesthetic Prototype at the Product Buds Protothon.
🌱  In April, I participated in the Product Buds Protothon, a weekend-long event where aspiring PMs and designers collaborate to pitch a new product idea. I was the sole designer on our team and worked with three business development/product management team members. I worked on the mobile app design of Pair as well as the user personas and the different ideations.

Create a project that has Social Impact

We ask competitors to ask themselves several questions in their ideation and execution processes. Including but not limited to, How can I create an opportunity for someone else through my product? How can I create ease in a user’s experience? How can I connect different communities/causes to generate larger impact?

👩🏽‍💻 Students & productivity during COVID


👥 Students feel productive studying in groups

To understand students' needs and pain points, we decided to conduct user interviews targeted towards study live (virtual video-call study sessions with simultaneous silent studying) attendees, we discovered that everyone had one goal: to get work done with others.


of our interviewees said they are more productive in groups


is the preferred group size when working with others.


is how much stress is lowered when working out in a group, according to a 2017 study. They also found it significantly improves quality of life, while those who exercised individually put in more effort but experienced no significant changes in their stress level and a limited improvement to quality of life.


🔬 Empathizing with our users

User Personas

After understanding the study live students, we decided to expand our idea to include not only students, but also those who may have moved to a new city, or recent college grads, as doing things in groups was shown to improve productivity per the above mentioned survey. We also made sure our app would emphasize collaboration with others. We then made our personas to better understand our audience and referred back to them when ideating our product.

User persona for Tammy, a college student looking for a community of friends to engage in hobbies and study with.

User persona for James, a Financial Analyst who just moved to New York City for his new job.


🔎 How might we increase productivity in individuals through companionship while completing tasks?


💭 Pair emerges, an app focused on matching others and ensuring accountability

Our brainstorm session.

❌  Idea 1

This first idea focused on real-time activity completion but lacked a scheduling/reminder feature in-app.

❌  Idea 2

The second idea focused on habit-building through relationship-building (either friendship, romantic, or platonic partnership) task completion, but we felt that the relationship aspect would overshadow the habit-building aspect, which is not the goal of our product.

✅  Idea 3

The third and final idea (taking bits and pieces from the first two) focused on the method of pairing users together and ensuring accountability.

Competitive Analysis

My initial design from the protothon won Most Aesthetic Prototype. However, after the protothon, I didn't feel satisfied with my designs as I felt like I didn't have enough time and wanted to work further on it. I discuss my initial design below and further down, I go through my redesign.


🎨 A design created in <2.5 days

As the sole designer of the group, I created all of the prototype screens and synced with the rest of my team often to see if they spotted any discrepancies.

Walkthrough of Pair


Product Design Comments from Judges

"Visuals are aesthetically pleasing and thoughtful. Theming is consistent across all materials. Branding is on-point. That said, the product is a bit too shallow, and doesn't have a strong enough stance on 'what is the most important core flow, and how do we prioritize that flow?'"
"Good pleasing UI, logical user flow, but user flow is a shallow and a bit fragmented in the IA."
"Very well designed- easy to use and aesthetically pleasing!"


🎨 Improving and iterating on Pair

After the Protothon, I wasn't completely satisfied with my designs. After all, they were done in a 2.5 day span, and while we did win Most Aesthetic Prototype, I saw some areas of improvement within my screens.

A piece of feedback I received for my designs was that the user flow was too shallow. In that case, in future iterations, I would go more in-depth in some of my user flows, especially for the matching process. Adding filters on age or gender to the process may have been helpful, and I also would make the statistics page more comprehensive and detailed as well.

1) Profile, Statistics

For the profile page, I changed some small visual details, such as taking away the colors over the hobbies as I felt the different colors were a bit distracting, and instead added emojis since they visualize each activity.

For the initial statistics page, I felt that looking at it was a bit underwhelming. Along with small visual changes, I separated the overall stats from the all-time stats more visually, and continued using emojis to signify activities as in the profiles. I debated on having the "Time Paired" portion be a pie chart instead, but opted for the bar graph as it’s easier to understand and the flow of reading is smoother.

2) Pairing up with another user

For the initial pairing screen, I decided on changing it to a multi-select screen to make it easier to make matches based on the selected tasks and would make that portion quicker for the user as selecting takes less energy than manually typing it all out.

When redesigning the time select screen, I realized the flow of this screen is a bit confusing - what happens after you're matched? Is it for an unlimited amount of time? To combat this, I split the workflow into different screens so the information was more easily digestible and to make it clearer what was needed to match immediately and what was needed to schedule.


📊 Measuring the success of Pair

Since we didn't formally ship our product after completing it, we don't have a way to show how much impact our product created. Thinking towards the future, if we shipped our product, the success metrics we would measure includes:

1. User Engagement

  1. Percentage of scheduled calls fully completed for entirety of timeslot.
  2. A match is available at the user's desired timeslot 0% of the time.

2. User Retention

  1. Average number of sessions scheduled per week.
  2. Number of different activity categories participated in per week.

TL;DR: Creating an app in 2.5 days is hard.

  • As the only designer, I interacted directly with PMs and expanded my knowledge of the more business side of products. During the Protothon, I was still deciding between going into PM or Product Design, since both the design and business aspects of products interested me. However, I now realize that I love working more directly on the project, and would prefer design over PM.
  • Although I have participated in "-thons" before this, this one was by far the most stressful. Writing an entire case study in a mere couple of days seemed like a daunting feat, and it was — my team must have spent over 20 hours on Zoom together, even spending 10am to 12am together on Zoom on Saturday (with small breaks in between of course).
  • I had the opportunity to practice my product-thinking and design-thinking skills and developed my skills in areas outside of designing our prototype, such as learning how market research and competitive analysis contribute to our creation process.

Despite the burnout that ensued after finishing, this was one of the most rewarding projects I've completed in a protothon and I am so glad to have participated. I was a bit nervous when creating our prototype as I was the sole designer on the team with little time to complete it, however with winning Most Aesthetic Prototype I feel a lot more confident in my design skills! Super proud of my team: Ruhi Sakrikar, Naomi Chao, and Olivia Chao, for finishing this and I'm looking forward to more protothons in the future!

NEXT UP: LGBT Community Network – redesigning the website of an LGBTQ+ support nonprofit.