In many underdeveloped countries with lower internet coverage, people have the need to make international calls to carry out some tasks or get in contact with others, but many of them can’t afford or don’t want to pay the expensive fee. 

Our strategy for this problem is unconventional. We sell ads on our app and ask the users to watch those ad videos to earn the phone credits in order to use the credits to make international calls. The service works as a facilitator among user, ad companies, and phone providers.

The Objectives

Whatscall was first made and established in Android, my job was to help the team build an iOS version. We noticed that in the Android version there are quite a lot of redundant functions and pages. Therefore, our task was not simply replicating the experience but optimizing it. Here are the objectives of making the iOS version:

  1. Inspect the android version, and get rid of the unwanted and poorly performing functions and pages

  2. Create a separate flow that is customized for iOS user behaviors

  3. Redesign the interaction and refresh the visual

The Process

Partnered with the product managers and engineers, we established a workflow together and worked on a weekly sprint within a 2-month timeframe. Since the time and resources were limited, we looked for minimum viable research methods, such as online surveys, phone interview, cart shorting and A/B testing.


Research & Analyze

We kicked off the project by doing a complete walkthrough on our product as a team, and we listed out the features we wanted to test, and identified some of the features we would like to add. According to the data we pulled from backend, we could identify the poorly performing pages. To improve the usability, I organized a workshop with the business analysts and stakeholders to discuss the values and functionalities of those pages and see how can we optimize them.

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Besides quantitative evidence, I also conducted a user test though phone calls to collect qualitative data to back up our design solution. I outlined the questions and conducted phone interviews with 5 users, who ranged from most engaged to beginner, to find out their motivations and pain points.

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Define The Problems

  • Pain point 1: Navigation

    The most important function for the users besides making calls is how to earn the credits. The original design placed this function in secondary level, which causes confusion and results in drop-off.

  • Pain point 2: Localization

    Our research revealed that the app was significantly used in the Middle East, and our testing users also confirmed that the language barrier was part of the struggle when they used the app. As a result, we focused on improving localization and usability for non-English speakers.

  • Pain point 3: Boredom

    There are a lot of repetitive actions and ads in the app. How to create a relatively creative and unpredictable experience is crucial to retain the users. We have already incorporated many gamification techniques, but we still need to explore how to drive motivations with those techniques.


1. Reorganize the app structure

To redesign the navigation, we started from the app structure. We pulled out the 5 most visited pages to the first level navigation bar, and reorganized the flow so it makes sense to even the first time user.


2. Redesign the user flow and take language differences into consideration

Since the app was first made in Android, we needed to look at each step to make sure the user flow is for iOS rather than Android. For example, there’s a universal navigation bar at the bottom of Android devices. Using the back button in the navigation bar is an easy way to go back to the previous screen or step. On the other hand, the iOS design is different. There’s no global navigation bar, so we can’t move back using a global back button in native iOS app design. This affects the design of iOS mobile applications. Internal screens should have a native navigation bar with a back button in the top left corner. Besides the usage, we also hired translators to help us refine the terminology for different languages.


3. Incorporate gamification

In order to make the process of getting credits fun and engaging, we used a lot of game techniques to drive motivation. In Yu-Kai Chou’s Octalysis framework, Scarcity & Impatience and Unpredictability & Curiosity are powerful Core Drives that affect human behavior. We use daily-checkin as a similar game technique Appointment Dynamics to ask users to come back everyday. Besides that, we have daily tasks to give them different challenges for creating unpredictability and curiosity so they don’t easily feel bored.


Visual Design & Branding

Once the wireframes were complete, we wanted to refresh the UI as well. Since WhatsCall is fundamentally a caller app, we decided to use iOS embedded UI library to make the experience as intuitive as possible. Besides the basic UI, I also created illustrations and motion graphics to guide the users and add personality to the app.


Next Steps

The next step is to continue on improving the App. Once we launch the iOS version, we’ll start to collect user feedback through channels such as App Store, Facebook group and survey. Besides that, we also monitor the app performance through Google Analytics. With those data, we can quickly iterate and optimize the app. Here is a list of how we measure success:

  • Task success rate — increasing the percentage of successful getting call credits.

  • Churn rate — % customers who try the app but uninstall it afterwards.

  • Net promoter score (NPS) — customer satisfaction measured through their willingness to recommend the app to others.