Convo iOS Launch | October 2018

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Convo: iOS Launch

Position: UI/UX Designer

Client: Convo Communications

Time limit: 1.8 Months

Platform: Native iOS App

Tools: Sketch, Invision Studios, and Hype 3


See the project live on Convorelay.com


Problem Statement

Convo iOS native app hadn't been updated for at least four years which was rendered ancient technology in the telecommunication for the deaf community. The company prides itself being the only deaf own telecommunication company for the deaf and hard of hearing community. Their purpose is to provide an efficient communication app for the user to call using sign language interpreter without any barriers that a deaf person could potentially have. The app was futuristic for its time as it introducing transparent background that allowed a self-view mirror to check appearance before a call and simple UI that many customers loved. Version 2.5 Had won accessibility award in 2016, while it was novel in accessibility, there were some pieces that that we could improve on.

Product Requirements

  • Native and intuitive app that used iOS experience

  • During Call experience to incorporate new way of hanging up a call (now patent pending)

  • Improved Universal searching experience

  • Organized contacts by advancing avatar and tags per contacts

  • Improved accessibility

Our Approach

We revamped this version with some outside assistance of contract company, giving us a new approach from within the app. The app now boasts of a dark interface than many of our users wanted and rated well in the visual accessibility needs. We tested on many of our users for simple task of during a call experience, making calls, and ending calls that this was highly anticipated release in end of October, nearly doubling our sign-ups and porting in our system even though we had run into some challenges from our competitors, we were able to squash any doubters.

My Contribution (that I was and am most excited about)

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In summer of 2017, I was cutting an avocado and severely cut my hand. Once I realized what had happened, I wrapped my hand in a dishcloth and applied as much pressure as possible then attempted to dial 911. To make a call as a deaf caller, I have to unlock my phone, then open the Convo app, and finally dial the number.But for a hearing person, the task is easy, by clicking 3 times on right side of phone or using Siri.

Unforunately even with my ability to talk, Siri typically does not understand deaf voices, myself included, so that prevents me from saying, “Hey Siri, call 911!” Scared because dialing on the app wasn’t successful, I ran out to our courtyard and found someone to make the call for me.

After arriving at the hospital, I continued to think about the poor user experience in a moment of chaos and distraction. I set out to change this and expressed my concerns with my team and our leadership to improve the process of calling 911. One comparison between a deaf caller and hearing caller is the hearing caller talks to the operator directly; the deaf caller would begin with the relay interpreter who then connected with the 911 operator. In an emergency, every moment counts, and when it sometimes takes up to 30 minutes to communicate with an interpreter, someone’s life could be on the line.

Through my research, interviewing interpreters, it was noted that relay users are prioritized in the call queue list. However during calls, time could be minimized by offering additional services provided to the users. By designing, I was given the opportunity to minimize the wait time and the dialing process that we figured out a way to incorporate a bypass button that would immediately dial 911. We updated the app by creating a button that quickens time connecting to the interpreter. In scenarios of accidental “butt dialing,” a second screen is created to prevent embarrassment to the user.

During the call, options available include text chat is available for the user to type if they cannot sign or eventual GPS implementation that allowed the interpreters better explain the location instead of relying on user. The goal here was to reduce time between deaf users and the 911 operators which we reduced that by 20 minutes. Also on last remark, most relay services end call once the conversation is completed but company decision to keep the call on in scenarios of being placed in ambulance and rushed to hospital, first responders can then take over and interpreters will help the user in crisis minimizing the communication break down.