Yeho Hwang
Innovating with Integrity
MessagesReimagined Mockup copy.jpg

The Messaging Experience, Reimagined


Reimagining the Messaging Experience

Text message users find it difficult to manage their read and unread texts and need a better way to respond in a timely manner.

Text conversations vary nowadays from instant messaging to ghosting. Sometimes we forget to respond or at times, we don't respond at all. Ultimately, the response rates get longer, especially if they don't elicit urgency, and end up frustrating message recipients and senders alike.

This is my capstone project for my UX Design class at NYU Tandon School of Engineering, where I prototyped an iOS app from start to finish.


Here is the interactive InVision link


Initial Idea

In order to fix this problem, I am proposing a new type of messaging experience that incorporates sender priorities, separating new messages from messages not responded to, and more interactive reminder notifications. Below, you will see user interviews, testing, reiterations, and next steps.

Disciplines Used

Design Thinking and HCD

User research and competitor research

Visual hierarchy and content hierarchy


February - April 2018


By understanding users' text messaging behaviors, I reorganized the messaging experience with customization that led to overall user satisfaction without compromising existing message navigation users are accustomed to.


User Research

Meet Michelle, Ashton, Michael, and Daniela. They constantly use messages to connect with their friends and families, but their response rates vary from not responding at all to responding on time.


2 rounds of interviews. 6 users interviewed.

Pain Points:

  • Not responding to messages on time

  • Not being responded to on time

  • Having to scroll through group chats to catch up on the conversation

  • Having to see notifications crowding the lock screen

  • Having to see the number of unread messages on the app icon

Behavioral Patterns:

  • People are better at responding to emails because they treat it with more formality.

  • Text messaging is less formal.

  • People read their messages but forget to respond. Rarely it’s ignoring on purpose.

  • Timeframe for texting can range from responding immediately to not responding.

  • Urgency of responding depends on the sender and the type of conversation people are having.

User Personas

And here, we meet Michelle, Ashton, Michael, and Daniela again, where they exemplify different types of text message users. Going across the spectrum of not responding on time to responding right away, it's evident that messaging is not only age-focused, but more behavior-based than we assumed.

Slow texting responses are not a Millennial-prompted epidemic.

We all do it. The question is, how can messaging platforms be redesigned to fix this problem?

My solution is to strip down complexities, make messaging more customizable, incorporate reminders, and separate new messages from unresponded messages.



How would the users go about answering their text messages? 

See how the user navigates the new messaging app.

Pro tip: click on the image to enlarge the image!

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Competitor Research

See how the solution compares to two great messaging/email platforms: Google Inbox and Slack.



Time to visualize the solution, perform initial user tests to validate ideas because we need to make sure we're headed in the right direction before getting too invested in something users may not even like.


Initial Ideas:

  • Separate new messages from unresponded messages.

  • Have priority groups ranging from 1-3, 1 being the top priority group. User can customize who can be in each group.

  • Tap-and-hold on each group to get into individual or group chats.

  • Have a filter in each group between new and unresponded for quicker access to messages users can attend to.

Busted Assumptions after 12 user tests:

  • No tap-and-hold. It only lengthens navigation for users, which can complicate the messaging experience.

  • No priority groups. Same icons confused users. Instead, allow users to customize each group through settings.


  • Separation and filtering of new messages from unresponded messages.

  • Reminder settings, where users can choose to be reminded at certain times.


Below are low-fidelity screens designed using Sketch and IBM's Carbon Design Kit.


One of the onboarding screens in carousel mode.

Main settings page

The 'Home' tab where the new and unresponded messages are separated.

Users can simple tap on the icon (placeholder boxes for now) to switch people from group to group.

An example of what it looks like when clicking into a tab.

An example of how a user can switch a contact into another group

And example of what it would look like if an 'Unresponded' filter is applied.

The notification settings are one of the main components of this messaging app. One key factor is the bulk reminder.

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Mood Board

Translating messaging behavior and motivations into visual elements in order to get a feel of the color scheme.

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How the mood board helped choose the color scheme and typefaces for the app.


Now that low-fidelity user testing is done and visual design established, it's time to move onto building out the high-fidelity prototype.

This step helped tremendously when gathering more specific user feedback because high-fidelity allows users to interact with a ready-to-go prototype that feels as real as the actual app.



High-fidelity User Testing

7 users in total.

What they said:

“I would definitely use this app.”

“I like how I can clearly see the messages I haven’t responded to.”

“I think it’s really intuitive, I know where I’m going, and it’s overall really clean.”


Next Steps

  • User test with older demographic (35 and older) because as I mentioned, messaging is more behavior based, not age based.

  • Design an Android version because not all users own iPhones.

  • Include more accessibility features, such as voice input and tactile feedback following W3C guidelines because it's 2018 and all users, no matter their abilities, must be considered when designing.

  • And in the near future, incorporate an algorithm where it puts the most interacted people on the top of the list.

What I learned

  • The more feedback you get the better because opinions will not get one-sided.

  • Sometimes, products are more behavior based than age-based.

  • Don’t get confused between feedback and opinion and choose to apply feedback wisely, where and when necessary. Or else, your design decisions may reflect a cacophony of opinions, which may end up distracting you from your problem statement.

What I enjoyed the most

The best part of this capstone case study was that I was setting out with a clear goal: to introduce a solution to an issue many people face today when interacting with people digitally. I also loved that my assumptions were busted several times along the way because it helped me stay focused on user pain points. Finally, this project validated that I love user experience because it always puts the users first and helps provide solutions through using different disciplines in research, analytics, and human-centered design thinking.