Unfilter: Dating in the Digital Age

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Unfilter: Dating in the Digital Age

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Unfilter: Dating in the Digital Age

Anna Chau Author and Designer Allan Chochinov Chair, MFA Product of Design Thesis Advisor Andrew Schloss Thesis Advisor Jennifer Rittner Thesis Advisor Jamie McGhee Editor

Unfilter: Dating in the Digital Age



Copyright Š 2020 by Anna Chau All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, Anna Chau and Product of Design. Thesis book published in completion of Masters of Fine Art degree for the Products of Design program at the School of Visual Arts, New York. To see more, visit annachau.com For inquiries, contact annachaudesign@gmail.com MFA Product of Design School of Visual Arts 136 W 21st St 7th floor, New York, NY 10011 www.productofdesign.sva.edu

To Mom, Ling through everything. My greatest teacher. To Dad, Daniel Thank you for encouraging me to dream big and not to be scared in embarking something new. To Bro, Anderson Thank you for being straight with me when things do not seem right and being on the line if I need to talk.

Unfilter: Dating in the Digital Age

Thank you for always being supportive

Table of Content

Introduction Research

Context Unfilter: Dating in the Digital Age




Why Devote a Thesis to Online Dating?




Technology Implications on Dating


Driving: A New Sense of Belongingness


The Paradox of Choice


The Loss of Sexual Attraction


The Gamification of Dating


Swiping Economy of Dating Apps


Online Dating Services


Physical Dating Events


Innovations in the Dating Industry


Why Design Matters for dating?


Approach: Speculative Futuring


Design Thinking Methodologies


Visualization Design


System Map




Blume: A speculative future on pheromone base matchmaking



IDIOM: A packaging design to find a sense of self through smell



Pitch: An app design to practice public speaking



Wndr: A service design to encourage asking questions about dating

Final Words


Thank you






Unfilter: Dating in the Digital Age


Unfilter: Dating in the Digital Age

Swipe Left

Fig. 1.1 Dating profiles from Hinge, OK Cupid, Zoosk, Tinder

Swipe Right Unfilter: Dating in the Digital Age



Why devote a thesis to Online dating?

Unfilter: Dating in the Digital Age


As I began exploring topics for my thesis, I kept asking myself, What would I want to research and think about for an entire year? I knew I didn’t like math, so any topic related to that was definitely out of the picture. I knew I liked food, but it wasn’t intriguing enough for me to dive deeper. It was not until one night, when began venting to me about her Online dating experiences, saying that none of her matches lived up to her expectations. I asked her why she didn’t try another way of finding her match if Online dating was not working out. She told me that she was too busy, and she didn’t have any other option. That conversation was the catalyst to understand more about the current Online dating space. My goal was to help not only my roommate, but also other participants in the digital dating age who felt just as stuck as she did. Online dating was a space I had always heard about from my friends and media but never tried for myself; I assumed that Online dating was unsafe, full of lies and bursting with people desperate for sex. Nonetheless, coming to New York, I quickly realized that many people used these platforms, and many people were disappointed by the results. This sparked my curiosity to do my thesis on dating in the digital age to explore what makes Online dating so appealing for users like my roommate—to learn what keeps them engaged even though they feel let down and stuck. I was driven by the goal of investigating the current system of Online dating in order to create a more positive experience through design. Let’s begin our journey into unfilter dating in the digital age.

Unfilter: Dating in the Digital Age

my roommate came back frustrated and upset. I asked her what was up. She


Unfilter: Dating in the Digital Age

IDIOM No professional purpose

Fig. 1.2 Projects that will be presented in Exploration Section.


A recent survey by one of the popular dating apps, Badoo, observed Millennials spend an astonishing 10 hours a week on dating apps. While more and more participation in Online dating continues to flourish, there is still a large percentage of users who report feeling stuck and displeased with the experience of using this platform. The basis of this project is to propose a course in the design of dating apps, one that facilitates self-knowledge, community engagement, as well as romantic and sexual connection.

Unfilter: Dating in the Digital Age

Abstract -

Next Section: Research


Technology Implications On Dating

Unfilter: Dating in the Digital Age

A recent report from the Pew Research

is that we cannot predict the long-

Center projects that usage of Online

term implications. What we do know



is that certain trends are shifting: The

2013, where only 9% of Americans




average age of marriage is increasing,

used the platform on their mobile

while the number of marriages is

devices (Madden & Lenhart, 2019).

dropping exponentially in contrast to

The yearly increase in this number

the number of people participating in

signifies a paradigm shift when it

Online dating (Vogels, 2020). A new

comes to finding love. The implication

survey by the Pew Internet & American

of technology in dating has proven

Life Project reveals that 30% of U.S.

beneficial, particularly when it comes

adults say they have used a dating

to ease of access, as virtual platforms

site or app. The majority of Online

can be accessed through mobile

daters say their overall experience was

devices. Technology has also provided

positive (Madden & Lenhart, 2019). The

users with an abundance of potential

evidence indicates that the effects of

partners to choose from for their

technology on dating are beginning to

next date. The drawback of applying


technology to our love lives, however,

Unfilter: Dating in the Digital Age


Fig. 1.3 Is there an algorithm to finding love? From Unsplash by Alexander Shin


Unfilter: Dating in the Digital Age

Fig. 1.4 Even though Tokyo has a dense population, a large proportion of people are still lonely. From Unsplash by Jens Johnson



matches provide users with preliminary

Rudders, a co-founder of the popular




characteristic traits that are of objective

dating app OkCupid, outlines the

means rather than being subjective to

adverse effects of using digital dating

the users’ needs. Rudder points out

platforms on our decision making.

that it is therefore vital for us “to strive,

He states that “meeting-with-devices

to seek, to find, but always, to yield”

make it almost impossible not to cheat

(Rudder, 2016).

(Rudder, 2016)”. Rudders go on to explain how businesses like Facebook utilize

Another implication of technology is the

technology to manufacture results

over-reliance on algorithms to dictate

that make their products seem quick

with whom we match. Everyone wants

and easy ways to find connections.

to find answers in life, and some things

But in actuality, the synthesis of the

can be approached more logically than

capture data does not encapsulate

others, such as when to go grocery



shopping or where to invest a sum

as culture and language, which are



of money. The complexity of human

also necessary to consider when

emotions differs from these situations

choosing a partner. The results of the

in that it, by nature, is more complicated

and unpredictable. Algorithms input

keep life meaningful and valuable”

into these systems conjure hypothetical

(MacLean, 2019). But users rely too

assumptions of human emotions and

much on the data for answers, which

the likelihood of people being to one

again reflects the point that Rudder

another based on a subset of similar

outlines; the system makes it too easy

qualities. Reliance on technology can

for us to finding the easy way out. The

be a tool to gain initial insight into and

problem is that the data we import into

ideas pertaining to a certain direction.

these systems captures an insufficient

Still, there are problematic implications

amount—or even none—of what we

for allowing technology to determine

intrinsically and naturally feel. As she

who—and how—an individual should

read through modern love novels,

navigate and select their matches. As

Orrenstein witnessed that what keeps

Rudders says, “For anything to be made

people meeting IRL (in real life) are the

whole, the first step is to know what’s

endless choices on dating apps that

missing”, which frequently turns out to

keep them stuck Online (MacLean,

be a lack of personal perspective and

2019). All in all, there is no single solution

individuality on Online dating platforms

to finding love. Emotions, identity, and

(Rudder, 2016). But in order for that to

all the tricky, fuzzy aspects that make

be effectively communicated by users

us human cannot be contained in or

of these platforms, they first need to

explained by the modern sidekicks that

understand the fundamental aspects of

are our mobile devices.

who they are. Relying not on algorithms to obtain answers, but instead taking the lead by engaging in self-reflection. Through reflection, users can discover aspects that data alone cannot tell them, such as their emotions and feelings. Be the driver to your journey in finding love. Of course, the journey to love is not always so clear. In “Love at First Like”, Novelist Hannah Orenstein depicts various examples of contemporary love. “Sometimes,” she says, “the very things that are not answerable

Fig. 1.5 Finding love in nature; now. From Unsplash by Prarik Gupta

Unfilter: Dating in the Digital Age



Driving A New Sense of Belongingness.

Unfilter: Dating in the Digital Age

Fig. 1.6 Along the margins of happiness and belonging. From Unsplash by Prateek Katyal

First, we must unpack how we are

showcase it for our social networks”





(Mallela, 2018). Modern users in the





digital age are accustomed to planning

demonstrate how we broadcast our

and editing every moment of their

lives. In his article about identities and

lives, including their love lives. As

our transitioning sense of self in the

such, there is a lack of preparedness

digital age, Sriharsh a senior researcher

for spontaneous moments, such as

on human behavior says, “Give us the

face-to-face meetings. The discomfort



and nervousness lead users to feel

the demands of a real relationship…



disconnected from those they thought

Which has fundamentally impacted our

they had a connection with when they

pattern of thinking because instead of

were communicating via dating app.

experiencing a moment in our real life, we think about how ‘ideally’ we can

Unfilter: Dating in the Digital Age


Fig. 1.7 Blending the worlds of digital and physical. Which world do we like to live in more? From Unsplash by Prarik Gupta


Unfilter: Dating in the Digital Age

Our sense of identity starts to separate

While searching for someone who

into two mediums: physical and digital.


The digital world provides us with the


opportunity to reinvent and showcase

confidence, it’s important to step back

ourselves as new characters who we

and ask, “Do I have the same traits I’m

might not be confident portraying in

looking for in others?” and “What can

the physical world. In the “Journal of

I bring to a relationship that would be

adolescence”, youths who described

attractive to someone else?” Everyone

themselves as shy or quiet said that

looks for something different in a

“it was easier to share these personal

significant other, and finding the right

thoughts digitally than in person.

match requires work on both sides.

Some felt typing rather than speaking

Katie Davis, professor in University of

their feelings gave them more control”

Washington , whose research focuses

(McElroy, 2012). There is evidence

on digital youth, commented: “It’s just

that money impairs people’s ability to

that they’re using different tools to

savor everyday positive emotions and

satisfy these needs” (McElroy, 2012). It is

experiences. Researchers found that

a reminder to view dating apps as tools

participants who were exposed to a

for communication and an opening for

subliminal reminder of wealth spent

opportunities, rather than an option to

less time savoring a chocolate bar

neglect the subconscious, in-editable,

and exhibited less enjoyment of the

innate parts of ourselves that make

experience than other subjects who

each of us unique. Furthermore, when

weren’t reminded of wealth (Fig 1.8).

we start to feel comfortable with these

This expectation vs. reality scenario

aspects of ourselves, we will intuitively

amplifies an important point: Users

follow the right path to finding a sense

often focus on what they expect or

of belonging.


desired honesty,

characteristics, charisma,

want in a relationship, rather than reflecting on what they have to offer.

Fig. 1.8 Chocolate and wealth. From Unsplash by Tetiana Bykovets



A study from the Information School

access their dating profiles. They

of Studying Behaviors of Adolescents

want to remain Online out of fear of

with Digital Media stated that digital

missing the opportunity to match with

media is used(?) to promote a sense

someone. With that being said, as

of belonging and self-disclosure of

digital technologies continue to play

personal problems, which are two

larger and larger roles in our lives, will

critical peer processes that support

we focus more on our digital selves and

identity development (McElroy, 2012).

less on real people? This movement

These tools seem to promote a sense

raises other questions about what

of belonging, but it is hard to speculate

we can do to regain and maintain a

what the long term outcomes could


be. One dangerous trend is that

way we represent ourselves in the

Online daters are already experiencing

physical and in the digital worlds.

Fig. 1.9 Friday date night. (Smith, Robinson, & Segal, 2020)


Unfilter: Dating in the Digital Age

anxiety when unable to immediately



Driving The Paradox of Choice.

Unfilter: Dating in the Digital Age

Dating apps are designed to provide

fewer profits” (Brue, 1993; Shephard

users with endless choices to keep

& Färe, 1974). This further underscores

them continuously engaged in the apps.

the fact that an abundance of choice

Online dating offers the opportunity to

will not lead to positive results. The

connect with a high volume of people.


Paradoxically, however, the abundance

of dating apps are more quantitative

of options frequently leads to a negative

than qualitative. Dating apps are still

experience. Rather than moving us

a business, and therefore their main

forward and facilitating connections,

objective is keeping users engaged in

this abundance incapacitates, causing

the app. As such, users might find the

paralysis (i.e., not making any decision at all) and “decreased satisfaction” (Pronk, Denissen, 2019). The abundance of choice in Online dating creates a “rejection mindset,” or the intent to reject people (Pronk, Denissen, 2019). The





Online the



principle of diminishing returns, where “each unit that is sequentially added to the production process results in




Fig. 1.10 When there is abundance of choice it leads to more of a negative experience. (Schwartz, 2016)

seemingly infinite number of choices

uncomfortable. “That switching makes

attractive, but the problem is that, when

it so that when you’re just sitting or

it comes to dating, users are not trained

engaged in one thing, it feels weird.”

to handle multiple things at once.

(Turkle, 2016). According to examples cited in the book, people want to do

Sherry Turkle addresses this in her

multiple things at once in order to adapt

book “Reclaiming Conversation.” She

to the speed of technology, whereas it

claims that it is so easy to switch from

should be the other way around. The

one thing to another that concentrating

ease of accessibility and facilitation

on one thing actually makes people

merely continues to maintain the “rejecting mindset”, which can lead to blocking potential choices, rather than seeing them as opportunities. Looking





designers, inventors, and entrepreneurs are constantly trying to build and design solutions to increase efficiency in different aspects of everyday life. Whether it be flipping a patty or constructing a home, technology has

Fig. 1.11 The rejection mindset. From Unsplash by Jabi Hoffens

Unfilter: Dating in the Digital Age



been a significant resource when searching





these imagined ideals. However, with innovation comes the challenges of adapting to its speed and rigor. That is to say, many people start to compete with technologies in an attempt to be as efficient as the churning, 24-hour machines humans have invented. For Unfilter: Dating in the Digital Age

example, the term “multitasking” was originally




not human behavior. Multi-tasking is defined as the use of a single CPU for the simultaneous processing of two or more jobs(Keller & Papasan, 2017). Slowly, this term has shifted to describe human actions as well, because we have been adjusting our practices to match technology. Research conducted at Stanford University found that multitasking is less productive than doing a single thing at a time. The researchers also found that people who are regularly bombarded with several streams




cannot pay attention, recall information, or switch from one job to another as well as those who complete one task at a time (Gorlick, 2009). In the current space of Online dating,

users believe that the abundance of choices offers more chances to find their match. On the contrary, based on Sherry’s statement that “meeting that gives the illusion of collaboration,” it





people to work (Turkle, 2016). For that reason, dating should not be about maximizing efficiency. Dating should be about engaging with someone one stage at a time while drawing satisfaction from the experience itself.

Fig. 1.12 A decade’s worth of research has shown that people who frequently use many types of media at once performed significantly worse on simple memory tasks. NeuroscienceNews.com image is adapted from the Stanford news release.

Fig. 1.13 Where do you think you fall? (Skillicorn, 2017)

Unfilter: Dating in the Digital Age



Driving The Lost of Sexual Attraction.

Unfilter: Dating in the Digital Age

In the article exploring “AI and its input

essential. There are many core aspects

on our media”, Alissa Wilkinson,Vox’s

of relationship building that are missing

film critic, states, “Technology includes

in Online dating. Right now, most dating

stakeholders who have certain kinds of

app profiles are primarily visual, which

bias on what it means to be human and

leads users to judge others almost

important and insert it into the design

solely based on aesthetics. However,

of their systems” (2020). This bias leads

in scientific studies where participants

users to make judgments based on

are asked to rank their most desirable

aspects that may not have been in their

traits in a mate, good looks are often

initial consideration, such as which part

ranked as one of the least important,

of the city they live in. The US Association


of Psychological Science also found


that “browsing multiple profiles makes

and understanding (Apostolou, 2011;

people far more judgmental than they

Apostolou, 2015; Buss et al., 2001;

would be in a face-to-face meeting,

Perilloux et al., 2011).

quickly writing off candidates who

Another study suggests that a core

don’t tick every box” (Knapton, 2016).

element missing from Online dating

As a result, users miss opportunities

is the spontaneous and unplanned

to meet with someone who may not

interactions that build attraction and

neatly fit into those narrow boxes the

lay strong foundations for long-term

filters on dating platforms suggest are

relationships. “Sexual desire arises







Fig. 1.15 A 9th-anniversary dinner date. From http://www.statisticbrain.com/ online-dating-statistics/


from a combination of sensory stimuli,

us nothing about the outside world,

visual, smell, sound and touch, acting

but produces pleasant or unpleasant

on the brain at both a raw level and a

sensations that go on to determine what

context of memories to which they are

we desire, rather than what we know”

associated,” points out Toates. And

(Jasper, 2019). So many interactions

that can’t be recreated by viewing a

in Online dating are editable, which

computer profile (Knapton, 2016). The


experiments detailed in this article

based on innate desires, feelings, and

explore the importance of face-to-

intuitions. Online dating is built on fixed

face interaction and the attraction

perceptions of what is important in a

mechanism of sense and pheromones.

relationship, but until technologies are

People, like animals, have a pathogen-

able to track other senses in addition to

recognition gene by scent. Adam

sight, it cannot tell us what to desire or

talks about scent in his article “Notes

control how we feel.

in Scents”, Smell implies, teaches




Unfilter: Dating in the Digital Age

Fig. 1.14 No dating app can replace a real connection. From Unsplash by Christin Hume


Driving The Gamification of Online Dating.

Unfilter: Dating in the Digital Age

Many popularized dating apps operate

(Ansari, 2016). Ester, who is a licensed

on models that are similar to quick mini-

marriage and family therapist, has

games. They are easy and interactive

concluded from her research that

enough to hop on and play and keep you

people are stuck behind their screens

enticed. This is intentional, as pointed

due to the comfort and the fear of

out by writer and comedian Aziz Ansari

rejection. She puts it as so: “Tinder is

in the book “Modern Romance.” Ansari

set up so that users never encounter

finds Tinder to be a social platform with

each other until both have confirmed

“low stakes and easy to use…Nobody

their interest, I think of it as a rejection

joins Tinder because they’re looking for

prevention app” (Perel, 2017). The result

something…they join because they want

of this approach to dating is building a

to have fun” (Ansari, 2016). Not all users

culture around the reliance on “instant-

of Online dating are only on it for fun

gratification…but has numbed them

and games. Over 44 percent of women

to this critical feeling, without which

and 38.4 percent of men are looking for

it can be difficult to sustain a long

serious, long-term relationships when

relationship” (Perel, 2017). This does

using a dating service (Emery, 2017).

not prepare actors in this community

We are spending more time in front of

to understand the feeling of arousal

screens than in front of dates in real life.


According to Ansari, the key is to get off the screen and meet these people






Fig. 1.16 How many people who meet on apps get married? (Emery, 2017)

Fig. 1.17 What do you think the deciding factors are? (Carman, 2019)

Unfilter: Dating in the Digital Age



Fig. 1.18 A New Sense of Belongingness From Unsplash by Jon Tyson


Fig. 1.19 The Paradox of Choice From Unsplash by Victoriano Izquierdo

Unfilter: Dating in the Digital Age

Since the beginning of the modern paradigm, people have striven to find efficiencies in their lives to create the feeling or illusion of having more time. This same desire drives people to use Online dating apps such as Tinder to feel like they are doing a lot in a small amount of time. However, rushing through the dating process removes much of the vital substance and thoughts that are key to a strong relationship foundation. People often go into Online dating hungry to connect with someone quickly, but without the right judgment, the process only leads to short term results. This reflects the ways in which many of us, in our current society, pressure ourselves to conform and adapt to the pace of technology, forgetting to be present, forgetting to adhere to our innate rhythms, and forgetting to enjoy the process of waiting.

Fig. 1.20 Technology Implications on Dating From Unsplash by Gilles Lambert

Fig. 1.21 The Loss of Sexual Attraction. From Unsplash by Kelly Sikkama

Fig. 1.22 Gamification of Online Dating. From Unsplash by Evan Hancock

Unfilter: Dating in the Digital Age


Next Section: Context


Swiping Economy of Dating Apps

Unfilter: Dating in the Digital Age



of Online dating apps is that it opens

Psychology and Dean’s Professor in




opportunities for people from different

Arts, Sciences, and Engineering, states

social-economic, racial backgrounds,

“that you have to kiss a lot of frogs to

and social circles to meet. However,

find a prince — and I think that applies to

despite the doors that it opens, Spira

Online dating” (Pronk & Denissen, 2019).

advises her clients not to “think your

The dating industry is incrementally

iPhone or Android is truly a Smart-

shifting to digital environments, as

phone.” A swipe is not going to do the

underscored by a recent survey that

work in getting you into the relationship.

illustrates that the numbers of users have tripled from 2017 to 2019 (Smith,

Swiping dating culture was born only

2019). Lara Hallam, a researcher on

seven years ago (Sales, 2018). The

Online dating, commented: “People

introduction of Tinder in 2012 gave rise

have always used intermediaries such

to a generation of swipe-to-match apps

as mothers, friends, priests, or tribe

s. It gamified the entire experience.

members, to find a suitable partner…

The popularity drove the Online dating

Where Online dating differs from all the

industry to unleash more services

layers of anonymity involved“ (DiGiulio,


2019). Nonetheless, Julie Spira, an

Before the existence of these apps,

Online dating expert, and coach,

Online dating, in comparison to how we

points out that one of the advantages

conceive of it today, had more words. It




Unfilter: Dating in the Digital Age


Fig. 2.1 Swipe right or left? Made from Boris Free Mock-ups


Unfilter: Dating in the Digital Age

Fig. 2.2 There is a reason why slot machines can be so addicting to play. From Unsplash by Benoit Dare

required more work than just a simple


swiping gesture. Profiles compiled

lives, explains how the experience of








checking our phone is akin to playing

profile introduction necessitated full

a slot machine (Harris, 2019). Similar to

texts, not hashtags. The introduction

how we interact with dating apps, slot

of the swiping generation weeded

machines bring a false impression of

out the work that goes into Online

security and opportunity. Interactions

dating. What is left behind with less


thought and driving age of what

purposely designed around a business

swipe haters call sex-driven maniacs?

model that depends on keeping us





engaged. As designers, we need to What makes swiping so attractive to

consider the implications of these

users? The mechanics are inspired

designs and reorient the goals of these

by and designed to emulate a slot

applications to more ethical platforms

machine. On a recent episode of the

rooted in the users’ success in mind.

podcast Recode Decode, Kara Swisher says that, in her experience, people

We, by which I mean users of dating

developing Online platforms do not

apps, tend to forget that dating apps

reflect on or consider the impact they

are a business, and they intend to

are making� (Swisher, 2020). Tristan

keep us engaged. The experience of

Harris, a design ethicist who designs

swiping is purposefully designed to


deliver instant gratification to users,

select core life partners. Matchmaking

which stokes their curiosity and feeds

icon Janis Spindel has continually

their fear of missing out (FOMO).

helped her clients enter marriages and committed relationships since starting






her business in 1993 (Kuczynski, 1999).

matchmaking is enjoying a bit of a resurgence in the age of Online

People enjoy having the freedom of

dating and one-night stands. The

choice, but having too many options

Globe illustrates how this resurgence

can lead to more confusion than

is by modern society’s desire for


convenience (Gayla, 2019). In the

dating apps and the goals of traditional

past, traditional matchmaking took

matchmakers do not align, nor do

away the ability for couples to choose

they carry the same liabilities. Users

their partners. For centuries this was

should then be aware when they are

how most cultures have found their

stuck and remember their intentions

mates, basing suitability on criteria


such as family background, education,

spaces and sort out their choices,

economic factors, and occasionally

so it will not be too overwhelming.







interests. With that being said, a large population still relies on these services and trust that expert help is needed to Fig. 2.3 Matchmaking in China, dating back over 2000 years, sought to match families with similar family statuses and social standing; the modern industry has shifted into a commercial free-for-all. From Disney movie: Mulan

Unfilter: Dating in the Digital Age




Creating Online Dating Services. 1800 Fig. 2.4 A personal ad in the newspaper from the 1800s, written by a young man looking for a wife. From Mark Roser Twitter Unfilter: Dating in the Digital Age

A new wave of dating services is

representation, which is usually derived



from the media’s portrayal of what is

peoples’ profiles and even respond in

attractive. These services encourage

conversations. The demand for these

users to conform to the superficial

services stems from certain users’

ideals cultivated from Online dating

self-awareness of the fact that they are

apps such as Tinder. Users also go as

unable to completely live up to societal

far as hire ghostwriters to help them

representations of visual attractiveness.

with conversations (Salon, 2019).



As such, these services help them revamp their digital identification to

It all underscores the point that Online

increase their perceived attractiveness

dating is exhausting, and people are



trying to find help. The problem is

services promote superficiality within

this kind of support is only short-

a dating environment and train the


current generations to prioritize visual

appearances and first impressions,

appeal over other, more complex

and does not educate users on how

human qualities.

to pursue long-term goals of entering








into and sustaining a relationship. At Several


most, these services are creating a

promote openly sexual language and




space where people feel the need to

offer biased advice based on what

take beautiful selfies and respond with

their experts intuit will lead to more

short, sweet messages.

matches. It supports a particular visual

Early 1900s Fig. 2.5 A dating profile from the early 2000s that is more about the content than the picture. (Johnson, 2014)

Present Fig. 2.6 Less text, bigger image. (Murray, 2018)

Unfilter: Dating in the Digital Age



Creating Physical Dating Events

Unfilter: Dating in the Digital Age

Fig. 2.7 An interactive show brings two New Yorkers together for a blind date on stage. Image taken by myself.

As humans, we are continually trying to

prompt users to engage with their

find connections and cultivate a sense

brand. This is evidenced by their latest

of belonging in new and increasingly

campaign, which featured subways

efficient ways. As much as Online

ads personalized with people for the

dating has led to growing opportunities

purpose of “making a mass platform

to meet a broader audience, many

feel highly personalized,” said CMO Jodi

users are tired of endless swiping

Senese of Out-front Media (Carman,

and ghosting, and are searching for

2019). The Hive pushes more off-line

other environments to meet others.

experiences, and was designed based

Physical spaces and in-person events

on insight from users who sought

are becoming attractive reprieves from

real-life experiences rather than solely

the digital world, which is why Online

digital environments. The event called

dating apps are shifting to include more

“Updating” allows two strangers to

physical activities in their experiences.

have a blind date in front of an audience. Even though the event stems from the

For example, the dating app Bumble

goal of having users meet off-line and

started its business to encourage

in real life, the structure and theatrical

women to have more of a voice in dating.

aspect of the show still makes it feel

Today it is creating physical products

performative rather than authentic. The

such as magazines, cafes called Hive,

event allows users to directly message

and traditional advertisements that

the host of the show for questions

Fig. 2.8 Bumble Hive LA seeks to bridge the gap between their digital brand and real life. (Carman, 2019)

they want the contestants to ask each


other. From witnessing the event, it is

However, the outputs are still not

clear that the questions asked serve


primarily to entertain the audience

communication and biased mindsets

and not prioritize the wellbeing of the

going into the dating arenas. That is

contestants. This example showcases

why users need to be aware of the

the fact that the physical environment

biases and assumptions embedded

may not necessarily solve the problem

into these dating platforms, whether

of superficiality in the dating industry.

digital or physical. Therefore it is more

Yet again, a persona that is dictating

important for the user of Online dating

what can be shared and shown, which

to understand the users’ true intentions

feeds a superficial environment filled

and goals in using these platforms.

with biased opinions. There is a movement to bring digital

Fig. 2.9 Craving something real. From Unsplash by Kyle Brinker




physical major




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Creating Innovations in the Dating Industry

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An influx of technologies is being

the dating industry are determined to

implemented in the dating industry to

overcome these challenges. Certain

make finding a mate less strenuous,

companies, like Pheromor and Smell

more efficient, and more accessible.

Dating, are both utilizing biological

Whether the problem is long-distance

factors to help singles find their

relationships or just biological factors

mates. One of the main elements

of human nature, many innovations in





matchmakers cite that Online dating is missing is pheromones. Humans consist of intact DNA complexes called HLA, which studies show to play a factor in how attractive people find one another. In the case of Smell Dating, users are instructed to wear a T shift for a few hours to collect a sample of their smell, which will then be zip-locked, and which others will smell to see if they are a match. Similar products,

Fig. 2.10 Pheromor, a dating app that matches users based on DNA. From Brittany Barreto (CEO of Pheramor)


such as pheromone perfume, claims

never met in person. This indicates

to create irresistible attraction to the

that pheromones may not always

opposite sex with a couple of spritz of

be of the utmost importance when

their patented pheromone mixture.

maintaining a relationship. Technology and

reality (VR) to help people in the north

industry. Even if it sounds ridiculous

of Canada, whose physical distance

now, it might not in a few more years.

from each other makes dating difficult.

When Online originally emerged in the

Using VR technology, users can create

early 2000s, many people assumed

simulations of their characters in

that platforms were full of strange

virtual environments from the comfort

people and dangerous scenarios. Now,

of their own homes and meet their

Online dating is quickly becoming

potential mates there. The CEO, who

socially acceptable. Given the fast-

met his partner through this platform,

paced progression of technology, it is

was asked how his relationship was

only a matter of time because society

going. He responded that the two-year

fully adopts Online dating into the

relationship is going well, but they have





Fig. 2.11 A Japanese man falls in love and marries with his VR anime companion. (Miley, 2018)


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has affected the way people navigate Another company is utilizing virtual


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Fig. 2.12 Logic Model for this Thesis.


Relationship experts Partnerships. Product and services that support to users’ dating dilemmas.


Practicing pitching. Assessment tools to make better analysis between choices.


Decrease a time spent dating app

Improve communicat skills.

Group dashboard for Increase a discussions. satisfacti Online dat


The examples of services and innovations cultivated from the swiping economy outline how Online dating users are hungry to find connections. They want guidance from dating services, physical dating, events and other innovations like VR dating. I knew from my research in books and articles, as well as from talking to users and subject matter experts, that people are overly eager to blame technology for the spread of hookup culture and for mistrust in the Online dating space. Exploring the subject of dating in the digital age made me realize that dating apps are only a tool. To distinguish whether a tool is good or bad, one must look at the beholder of the instrument: the users of Online dating apps. As Online dating has provided opportunities, accessibility, and a new framework for dating, its parameters are still being innovated and shifted in various forms. It is important to remember that the bulk of the work in finding connections still of those entering into Online dating, helping them to not become discouraged when problems arise or if outcomes are not what they initially hoped. The goal of my thesis is for people to enter into dating in the digital age with an open mindset, ready to learn, speak, and grow.


amount of t on the ps.


amount of ion in ting.

Intermediate Outcomes

End Outcomes

Increase amount of physical interactions between users.(ex. Increase confidence dates) in Online dating. Mindset: Open-mindedness Courage Positive to Online dating. Increase knowledge in the process of Online dating.

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needs to be done by the user. Therefore, this thesis aims to re-frame the mindset

Next Section: Methods


Why Design Matters for dating? My designs for the Online dating space take a user-centered approach to create an experience that not only looks at the surfacing requirements, but that also forecasts Unfilter: Dating in the Digital Age

outcomes from human-centered values in place. Designers must be empathetic to the work they produce, given that they refine their designs during a thorough and iterative process of user testing; the feedback provides insight into the core goals of where the models need to be oriented. Through this methodology, a designer can cultivate concepts and work with meaningful disruption to solve the Online dating problems that users have identified.

Fig. 3.1 Mind-map of Online dating.


Approaches User-centered. The existing infrastructures of Online dating are built around a business model, driven by metrics and data, that aims to keep users engaged. Designers’ input, however, is operated from a more user-centered approach. This approach can reorient the product back towards users’ needs and create experiences that not only look at surfacing needs, but that also forecast the outcomes of the current Online dating landscape. In short, this approach leads to solutions that prioritize the human emotional context. By conducting a user-centered approach, this thesis aims to encourage a more open mind in users entering into the Online dating building confidence. Rather than relying on digitization for the direct solutions, I want to put the control back into the hands of the rightful owners, the users, so that they can discover their own paths in finding love. The user-centered methodology can cultivate concepts that work with meaningful disruption to solve the problems of disconnection and loneliness in the space of Online dating.








Design Ethos



Fig. 3.2 User centered design looping process.

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space. This entails subjects such as developing better communication skills and


Approaches Speculative Futuring. The term “speculative futures” was coined by Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby, who examined how design can impact more than just the user (Dunne & Raby, 2014). Thinking in terms of product implications for the future can bring to light the effects it has on social, environmental, and political environments. Visualizing the speculative future of Online dating can open opportunities to think about not only the current pain points of dating apps, but also the potential impacts of these habits and problems if they persist in the future. As Online dating is continually being adopted as the primary mode for finding a partner (Madden & Lenhart, 2019), how will this shift the dating game? How will communities engage with one Unfilter: Dating in the Digital Age

another, and what new business or service will arise from the popularity of Online dating? Alternatively, how would definitions of connection and romance shift with the transition to finding love in digital spaces? When thinking of speculative futures for Online dating, designers can spark conversations as to whether the current design systems of Online dating apps reflect what society wants finding love to be like in the future. The narrative of the project “Allure” that will be described more in the exploration section is inspired by the current overabundance of choices that users face. Online dating has, adversely, created a negative mindset (Pronk & Denissen, 2019). As people become increasingly confused and overwhelmed with choices, this project speculates a Utopian world where choice is completely removed and dictated by derivatives. We cannot select to ignore or replace parts of our DNA like filters on dating apps. What would love be like if the choice were taken out of the beholders’ hands, and users relied on embedded biological traits that cannot be changed? Fig. 3.3 Back page of Newspaper spread from Blume Project.

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Fig. 3.4 Front page of Newspaper spread from Blume Project.


Approaches Design Research. The process of design research is useful in utilizing a creative approach to observing and understanding a problem through various lenses. Design thinking includes four methods: Empathize: To understand the pain points and needs of the target audience.

Unfilter: Dating in the Digital Age Fig. 3.5 User journey map for IDIOM project.

This approach requires understanding the current landscape of Online dating by conducting secondary research through books and articles. In addition to the analysis of collective information available on the current Online dating landscape, primary research carried out includes conversations with subject matter experts, such as matchmakers and dating coaches, to learn the tools and processes they utilize to match their clients. Moreover, speaking with Online dating users allowed for further insight into the pain points of the user experience.

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Fig. 3.6 Subject Matter Experts.


Define: Defining the problem that needs to be addressed and designed around.

Unfilter: Dating in the Digital Age Fig. 3.7 Slow Elevator Method for problem re-framing. (Wedell-Wedellsborg, 2017)

By definition, the problem is the catalyst in response to which solutions can unfold. Regarding Online dating, it was imperative to specify and clarify the touch-points in order to drive a more positive experience. The re-framing problem method called “The Slow Elevator� was utilized to look if there are other lenses to approach the solution. In context to Online dating, the original problem statement is: Young adults entering into Online dating are pulled into the hookup culture which lacks intimacy and leads them into a turmoil of unsatisfactory romantic experiences. After several rounds of re-framing the problem statement, the direction looked deeper on what is cultivating the hookup culture. Which is young adults are bombarded with so many choices on Online dating of people to date that makes it confusing and difficult to choose just one.


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Ideate: compiling ideas that are aligned with the focus problem statement.

Fig. 3.8 Sketches for Pitch project.

In this stage, multiple iterations of sketches and wire-frames laid out possible solutions that could be further investigated and even tested later on. What is important for this process is always not to discourage any “stupid ideas� or be afraid to challenge assumptions. Through ideation is where idea of the users needs,better understanding of the problem and in the path of cultivating new ideas. For Online dating, the initial presumption is to do a redesign on the dating app itself. Of course that would be too safe, therefore in continuation of this ideation process the direction branched out to explore the opportunity for Online dating as a space for self exploration and self growth.


Prototyping: Tangible insights to refine ideas and test assumptions.

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Fig. 3.9 Cosmetic packaging exploration for IDIOM project.

Prototyping is a quick but powerful iterative tool that captures feedback from the target user; it also indicates whether the solution aligns with the initial problem to be solved or confirms any assumptions before too much investment is made to the product. The tangible aspect of prototyping can also bring in other senses like touch and smell to pull designs to more engaging multi-sensorial experiences. Alternatively, rather than displaying a refined 3D rendering or polished concept, the roughness of the prototypes served as conversation starters when I approached subject matter experts and Online dating users for their perspectives or initial reactions. Moreover, by inputting myself in conversation with the user helped me empathize with and understand the emotions they are going through. For example, as in my project “Pitch,� the physical prototype of the feedback card from Figure 1 allowed me to understand the nervousness in association with pitching in front of strangers and, more importantly, to determine whether the feedback was useful to improve my pitch.


Approaches Visualization. Visualization is a useful tool for designers to represent information to users in a more impact and meaningful way. The visuals can also guide users into actionable insights and render abstract data in digestible forms for users to understand. Information visualization needs to take into consideration the target audience that is viewing the data set, what information is essential to show, as well as what display is most useful to tell that story. The chart below showcases the landscape of the current space of dating in the digital world. It utilizes two routes, which are insights derived from talking with subject matter experts as well as from reading dating space. This visualization’s main objective is to represent the complexity and abundance of choices that arise in Online dating. The chart below represents some of the most popular dating apps. They are organized by the goals of the relationships they facilitate and by how detailed the profiles are. This table demonstrates the abundance of dating apps and allows one to observe any patterns that surface. One clear trend is that when the goals of the relationship are more casual, the profiles contain less information, while as relationship goals become more committed, profiles in turn become more specific.

Fig. 3.10 Competitive landscape for popular dating apps.

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secondary research on core decisions that users need to make in the Online

System Map

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Fig. 3.11 System Map with just user.

Fig. 3.12 System Map with user and dating coach.

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Next Section: Exploration


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Choice Reflection Communication Confidence


Exploration -

These are the topics of the projects that I will be presenting in this thesis. In a way, this order narrates my journey entering into the Online dating game. The reason why I chose to start dating Online was, similarly to many users I spoke with, to find someone I could potentially spend the rest of my life with. Online dating seemed like the only way to meet someone, given how repetitive and busy my days were; finding people to connect with outside of work seemed almost impossible. Feeling ambitious, I downloaded my first app and started to build my dating profile. Online dating appeared pretty straightforward. I filled in general information such as my name, my job, and where I came from. Then it got complicated. Apps offered me a litany of choices and features, prompting me with questions and conversation starters. During this stage, my mind raced. I wanted to ask questions, but I almost immediately withdrew them, fearing judgment from other users. And then there were the photos—do not get me started. I had hardly taken any selfies. I didn’t even enjoy taking selfies because it never made me feel comfortable and it never seemed like a meaningful use of my time. Therefore, it took a lot of digging through old pictures I found on Facebook and scrolling through past albums to finally collect a few images I felt confident enough to post on my profile. As I made the final edits to my profile, I reviewed it one last time to see how I presented myself in this space. A few questions whirled through my head. Is this really me? Will people like me? What kind of message does my profile send? I scrolled slowly to reflect on what I created. I pressed done, and so the matching process began.

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Online dating


The first few times I received notifications that people liked me, a surge of adrenaline ran through me. I went onto the app and scanned the matches’ profiles. I scrutinized their looks, their occupations, their heights, everything on their profile. At the time, their profiles were all I had to go by. I felt comfortable judging with a single swipe. Swiping eliminated any liability or threat. After a few swiping sessions, I finally collected a few matches to continue conversations with. From there, another hurdle arose; What should I talk about with each person? For the first few matches, I felt excited to learn more about the other person and promptly replied to each message. The excitement slowly wore at the long pauses in our Unfilter: Dating in the Digital Age

conversations, which became dry and repetitive—favorite food, what kind of Asian am I, right, OK and bye. Then the hardest part was making it to first dates. The nervousness kept creeping back, the constant fear of not knowing what to say or how to act on the date. At many points during this stage, I felt almost ready to give up on this game and to let go of this hope of ever meeting someone on this platform. Although my journey did not go as smoothly as initially planned, the iterative process of choosing, reflecting, and communicating led me to the final stage: having the confidence to present myself as who I am. Furthermore, I now know what I am attracted to and what is important to my matches, my peers, and my family. I’ve shared my journey not because Online dating is the definite answer to finding a match, but to convey the possibilities and opportunities it offers. Personally, Online dating allowed me to test my limits, to explore different expressions of my identity, and to clarify my intentions in many areas of my life. From Online dating, I learned to ask myself what I have to offer in a relationship rather than judging someone first. This question also made me understand myself and my self-worth. So I recommend making this journey for yourself. Be open to the many choices that Online dating will throw at you. It can be overwhelming and confusing, and it is certainly a process, but being patient with yourself will lead to clarity in your choices.

No one said dating in the digital would be easy, but not to say. It can’t be exciting and build with memories and experience to make this journey of self less lonely.

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So lets begin unfiltering dating in the digital age...

Exploration Choice

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Choice Reflection Communication Confidence

How might we use science to help alleviate the anxiety of having too many choices on Online dating? In the age of abundance of choices in Online dating, Blume is a speculative future narrative set in 2050. It imagines a future when the decision making of finding love is taken out of the picture, replaced by a reliance on attributes we cannot change, such as our DNA. The Blume Corporation has developed a unique formula by using distinctive pheromones to find the perfect match. Without personal choice, would finding love be seamless and less burdensome?

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Exploration Choice

Blume A speculative future on pheromone base matchmaking

Overview In the year 2050, people are increasingly becoming busier and more digitally connected than ever before. Unfilter: Dating in the Digital Age

They cannot verbally communicate and are lazy when it comes to dating. Endless swiping turns them into Online dating zombies. Because this generation lacks the skills to verbally communicate face to face, and because marriages and birth rates are declining, the government has stepped in to invest in solutions to help with this dilemma. In 2023, Blume Corp. took on this initiative to help bring chemistry back to the dating scene. Their solution was technology to match people based on their DNA.

Opportunity Humans are all born with unique pheromones that drive attraction—and that can be used to pick out their mate. The Research Association of Scent has carried out further studies on the HLA gene. The association is performing extensive research on genetic modification and seeks patterns to improve the accuracy of their successful formula, Blume 1.0. Since getting into the hands of the public, it has dramatically improved the happiness index for many nations. People are feeling less lonely and spending more time outdoors to find their soul mates. Patricia, a researcher at the association of Blume Corp., believes Blume will help the digital generation to be more in tune with their human nature instincts. Fig. A.1 Blume Corporation

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Fig. A.2 Allure: Bringing the science back to finding love.

Fig. A.3 There is HLA complex (attraction DNA) embedded in all of us.

No more se guessing Unfilter: Dating in the Digital Age

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Exploration Choice

The Product In the year 2050, Blume has used this ancient mating process to build an algorithm to systematically pair individuals based on their unique DNA and scent. Blume Corp. has proven the accuracy of mating individuals based on their smell. In the early 21st century, the business started as a mere testing kit to obtain human DNA and match them in a database. In the year 2050, the technology evolved to create the unique chemistry of scent that, once sprayed on a person A, will enhance the attraction to person B. To obtain this unique recipe, participants would need to fill out a voluntary questionnaire with a Blume specialist at the Clinic, followed by a thorough inspection and collection of DNA. Their matches will not be disclosed Unfilter: Dating in the Digital Age

with photographs or with any information about the other person. Instead, Blume Corp has created Bluming pods, spaces that users can enter to find their mates. So on Friday night, when an user goes to one of these Bluming pods, they will pull up their Allure Spray prescribed from Blume specialists and spritz it upon herself. The scent will enhance the user’s attraction based DNA for their mate to find them easily in the pod.

The Outcome The popularity of this scent-driven technology has made Blume Corp the number one business in finding love. People have become sick of endless swiping Online and the uncertainty of not knowing. In contrast, they are ecstatic to know someone will come to them, and because it is based on scent, the encounter will feel like love at first sight. People from all around the world are hungry for attraction, and so they purchase Blume services. The invention of Blume scents has increased the rate of marriages and birth rates, and has proven to sustain relationships with the further utilization of their Infinite Blume line. This line of fragrance maintains the attraction of each partner. All in all, it provides a Utopian society free from the fear of not finding a partner, and free from the fear of this attraction fading away as well. Blume is here to stay and Blume with you forever.

Fig. A.4 Alure packaging.

Fig. A.6 Blume Clinic.

Fig. A.5 Blume prescription order form.

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Exploration Choice

Unfilter: Dating in the Digital Age Fig. A.7 Back spread of newspaper of Blume ad. of the new product called Alure.


Moving forward

Does this sound like the perfect answer to solving our problem of having too many under our tongues, and we have a match. People still want to have some aspect of choice when it comes to selecting their mates. The problem is that there is so much to compare. It becomes mentally challenging and exhausting. But how can we block those thoughts? How can we allow ourselves to distinguish our good choices from our bad ones? We do this by taking a break. You might have heard this phrase before: Life is like a long marathon. Imagine you are in a bike marathon. You are peddling so fast that your heart is progressively pumping louder and harder. Sweat is dripping down the side of your neck. Even though the pain you feel in your knees is telling you to stop, your head is still geared to finish the race. Then finally you finish! Exhilaration rushes through you. This feeling comes only after finishing a goal and embracing what was accomplished. In similar ways, our life is like a bike marathon that we are pedaling through. Just remember to keep your eye on the goal and take rests along the way. We need breaks to rest and reflect during the journey. These reflections are beneficial in creating momentum. If we do not do this, our confidence will erode and we will slowly lose the energy to move forward. So let’s continue to the next section: reflection.

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choices? DNA matching us to our mates sounds simple enough—just a swab

Exploration Reflection

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Choice Reflection Communication Confidence

How might we utilize scent to activate more moments of reflection? The motivation behind IDIOM came from the notion that the majority of decisions in Online dating are driven by aesthetics. This creates a stagnant experience with lost opportunities to match with individuals. Therefore IDIOM is a solid perfume packaging that allows scents to be pieced together, with the intention of motivating users to take time to reflect on their choices, and how scents has significance to their identity. In doing so, it can bring better judgment and rationality to their choices.

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Exploration Reflection

IDIOM A packaging design to find the sense of self through smell Fig. B.1 User engaging with IDIOM product.

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Overview The majority of our decisions in Online dating are driven by sight. It creates a stagnant experience with lost opportunities to match with individuals. In a study that surveys over 1500 active Online daters, 87% reported having a list of 7 main requirements: physical features, body types, education level, personality type, political view, and religious affiliation. However, another report revealed that Online survey daters select based on 1 or 2 life, 90% reported there was no chemistry with the people they encountered (Garcia, Reiber, Massey, & Merriwether, 2013). The following example showcases how Online dating streamlines the selection process based on comparing 1 or 2 criteria. Leading users to mindlessly swipe on their choices, thinking that with the abundance of matches, there is no doubt that one of them will become the perfect match. Time for reflection Lauren Irish, a relationship coach at Maze of Love, says, “Take time to figure out what’s important to you and where you’re willing to compromise. If you stay true to your values, you’ll find a balance that works for you” (Emery, 2018). We commonly associate finding love with judging other people. However, prior to the moment where we start to judge others, we need to reflect upon ourselves and what we can offer to the other partner. Only then can we start making rational decisions about the requirements we have for the other partner. Let’s say you are looking for someone independent, charismatic, charming. Then start thinking what is attractive about yourself and what you bring to the relationship?

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requirements from their list. Then when they meet in real

Exploration Reflection

The Product

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IDIOM is perfume packaging design to

wearing her favorite perfume. “A man is

motivate users to take time to reflect on

in your personal space, so perfume is

our choices. The reason why I want to

like a collective decision for the both of

utilize the perfume industry to convey

you,” she said. As studies show, people

reflection is because the selection

who choose their perfumes are related

of scent is not only a singular act

to enhancing their natural scent (Jasper

but requires consideration of people

& Wagner, 2019). It means that perfume

around them. The sales of perfume are

wearers’ choices have reasoning to

decreasing not because of traditional

them, and further investigation shows

factors of price or having alternative

that smells can be aligned with our



mood and personalities (Singer, 2008).

beauty industry analyst at NPD, stated,

This project aims to help users in a

“Many people said it bothers them that

similar fashion find themselves through

fragrance affects other people, that

exploring their scent preferences. If

they are trying to be considerate by not

they are single, they can start the path

overcoming others with scent” (Jasper

to learning more about themselves as

& Wagner, 2019). As Daryl Rubin,

they build upon their fragrances, as well

an account coordinator at a beauty

as compare it with their mate to start

marketing firm in Manhattan recalls

a conversation upon both of their scent

her experience of her college boyfriend





during the time, he begged her to stop

Fig. B.2 IDIOM comparison beside its competitors.


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The objective is to sprout opportunities for reflection and communication about each other’s wants and needs.

Exploration Reflection

Process Competitive analysis

IDIOM Unfilter: Dating in the Digital Age

Where idiom is situated is at the top right quadrant because in looking at the landscape, individual scents does perfectly align with the individual preferences as well as scents can wear off as you wear it more often. On the flip side with customizable scents, the output is majorly reliance on the expert or technology which does not allow users to thoroughly understand what they are selecting.

Fig. B.3 Ideation for IDIOM


Fig. B.4 IDIOM exploration board.

Fig. B.5 Prototypes to test out opening and insertion of palettes.

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Sketches and prototypes

Fig. B.6 Ideation for IDIOM (cont.)

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I first explore the current landscape of perfume packagings and tried to understand their form and semantics. Sketched forms of perfumes but the liquid form of the perfume provided a lot of constraints to the design and hard to piece the notes together.

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Through out that process I realized that I wanted to deconstruct the scents by separating the notes to individual solid perfumes pieces. Therefore I started to explore cosmetic packaging to see how they collapse and package their palettes.

Exploration Reflection

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Fig. B.7 How the scent pods fit in IDIOM.

Redefining the notes` In looking into the construction of fragrances, I found that the names were arbitrary. IDIOM’s subheading is “No professional purpose.” The message is to instigate there are no defined rules or strictness to how you use IDIOM. It can be customized and molded however, the user wants it to be. IDIOM intends to redefine the traditional convention of piecing fragrances together of TOP, MIDDLE, and END notes to telling it as a story. As an intro to how you want to be present, a body that embeds the substance of who you are, and the end to what is the lasting impression you want to carry off as.

Telling it as a story




END Unfilter: Dating in the Digital Age

Traditional set up of perfume




Exploration Reflection

The Outcome

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Fig. B.8 IDIOM packaging

The name IDIOM The inspiration of the name IDIOM comes from the notion that there are no defined adjectives to describe smells. As the sense of smell is directly linked to our limbic system, that records our memories and emotion which can be a bit fuzzy and unclear. Similarly, it can also be hard to describe how love feels, as it is subjective to everyone’s own experiences and interpretation. IDIOM is for travelers and wanderers to build their scent profiles and reminisce on their own love story. Users can capture the scents that remind them of moments that make them happy, sad, or lovestruck. Users can piece them together and reflect upon them wherever they go.


IDIOM No professional purpose




Primary font_Abolition

AbcdefghIjklmnopqrstuvwxyz Secondary font_mono-rgo modular

The branding The branding for IDIOM is to entice Generation Z by being edgy enough to stand out from the mainstream. Its purpose and message are clear. It is also non-gender normative, as scents can be appreciated at equal levels with no definite rules.

Idiom: In the heat of the moment #C0501A

Idiom: As black as night #000000

Idiom: In the heat of the moment #56762C

Idiom: In the heat of the moment #929292

The colors The main colors selected are also inspired by idioms themselves and to extend another lens for users to reflect on the colors on not only their visual cues but also conjure reflection.

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Exploration Reflection

The packaging Each package includes an idiom case and starter scent pods to start to insert into the case. Materials: The case will be Computer numerical control (CNC) anodized aluminum for resistance to corrosion and wear. The solid perfume ingredients are made from the natural ingredients of beeswax, carrier oil of Jojoba, and essential oils to bring out the scent. The pods itself will be made out of recycled aluminum that is derived from the extra pieces milled from CNC, as well as from the pods sent back to the distributors by the customers when they are finished.

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Features The interior of the case and bottom of the pod have a magnetic coating for ease of attachment, in addition to a magnetic clasp for secure closure and a mirror. The colors will be placed on the packages and designed to bring a similar experience to opening a luxury item with the magnetic clasp and durable smooth finished of the anodized aluminum.

The promotion The two main modes of promotion are through its monthly subscription of magazines about new scents and through personal stories highlighting people’s experiences using IDIOM. Social media is another touch-point to capture quick moments in people’s daily lives using the product. On the next page are sample shots that were taken from IDIOM ‘s promotional video.


Fig. B.9 What is inside the box.

Fig. B.10 Magazine cover for IDIOM.


Scent pods with lid

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Fig. B.11 Scenes from IDIOM’s promotional video

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Exploration Reflection

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Fig. B.12 Wild posting of IDIOM pop-up event.


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The Experience The sense of self-experience in conjunction with IDIOM is introduced as a popup event to allow participants to each create a signature scent and explore their identities. The objective of this experience is for perfume-wearers to link their scent preferences, because smell has the power to describe and clarify our emotions and memory. To design an experience to help users understand their sense of self based on their scent preferences. This will drive them to reflect on the choices they make. The mood of the event is exploration, playful, and intuitive. It aims to conjure curiosity in a fashion similar to a dim sum cart passing your table. It will draw the same delight as when ice cream carts and trucks come into proximity. Most importantly, it allows the experience of feeling playful, allowing users to engage in explore the infinite possibilities on their own.

Exploration Reflection Fig. B.13 Participants building their own scent identities.

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Bees wax, essential oils

Test out each note

The MVP I did a minimum viable product (MVP) at home to run a sample trial to see how the experience would be carried out. Utilizing the ingredients that I purchased before, I ask my roommate to test out each note, choose the scent they preferred the most, and tell me how it made them feel. Then I wrote in a rough format of the instruction card and have my roommate document their reflection and feedback.

Select preferred scent

Record on feedback card

Feedback It was better to record people’s reflections through video/audio rather than asking them to write it down themselves. Defining how they felt was too broad. Participants needed clear instructions on what to fill in. A sentence? A word? A feeling?

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Exploration Reflection

The feedback card

1.Write scent preferences

2. Place on board.

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Fig. B.14 Feedback card (with sticker)

Fig. B.15 Mood board (stick scent pre

83 With refinement here is the of the instruction card. It is to provide independence to the users so that I will not need to hover them while they are in reflection. Each note is also a stickers that can be peeled and reveal a space for them to reflect on their scent preference.

eferences on board)

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3.Reflect on scents.



Fig. B.16 Feedback card (peeled for reflection)

Exploration Reflection

The location Location: The pop-up event will be held in front of department stores like Bloomingdales or Sak-Fifth. Of course, If there are restrictions to parking on the street, then another option is the marketplaces distributed around parks and large empty lots where a lot of independent artists and shops are displayed. Collaboration can also be made with other businesses like restaurants and educational institutes to engage in similar sensorial experiences with switching the context of a sense of self to a sense of taste or time as well. Bloomingdale Front

Unfilter: Dating in the Digital Age Fig. B.17 Collaboration with restaurants and educational institutions

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Fig. B.18 Beginning of the storyboard


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Fig. B.19 Storyboard.

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Exploration Reflection

Unfilter: Dating in the Digital Age Fig. B.20 How will your story begin?


Moving forward

We are starting to reflect on and bring more clarity to who we are and how others it work. Empathy can help people connect emotionally and consider another person’s point of view. However, there still is unfortunately no magic pill or super machine wired directly to our minds that will let us know exactly what others are thinking. Therefore, each person must communicate exactly what is on their minds; they must take responsibility for conveying their wants, needs, and feelings. The primary mode of communication of Online dating is through texting. People ghost, leave long pauses in conversation, and make tons of assumptions about one another. Miscommunication and the loss of attraction can happen when users are stuck communicating in Online dating spaces. Online dating has also brought up a culture of editable communication modes that don’t require users to express thoughts and ideas spontaneously and, most importantly, face to face. Therefore, users are afraid to go on first dates, fearing that they might say something wrong and leave people with the wrong idea. There in reflection of this project, it is to convey to the readers that no one can read your mind, and only you can best understand what you are truly feeling and what is in your mind. Let no one judge you or persuade you otherwise and if they do then they are not the person for you. So let’s move on to the next section to learn how to communicate better.

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perceive us. Relationships are no singular act; they require both sides to make

Exploration Communication

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Choice Reflection Communication Confidence

How might we build an app to users to become more confident speakers? Communication is a core asset to establishing a firm foundation for relationships, but with the digital age relegating more communication to screens, people lack the skills to communicate face to face. The app Pitch encourages users to practice their elevator pitch and receive real-time feedback from AI to support them on the clarity, tone and expression of their pitches. It should lead them to be more confident communicators in a job interview, during a presentation, or on a first date.

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Exploration Communication

Pitch An app design to practice public speaking

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Overview Communication is at the essence of establishing firm foundations for relationships, and right now, people lack skills to communicate face to face. In the article written on Bustle, it stated that a millennial spends an average of 10 hours per week on dating apps (Emery, 2017). The retention of these apps is driven from 1) businesses wanting them to stay engaged, as well as 2) the fact that users are nervous about meeting in real life. But isn’t that the goal? By staying behind a glass screen, users miss out on many opportunities, such as facial expressions and the subtle art of flirting. Therefore the Pitch app intends to help users become better communicators. People today are lacking critical face-to-face communication skills. Everest College’s National study finds a majority of Job seekers are afraid to speak in public, and every year the number of people with social anxiety is increasing (Neal & Sibug, 2013). But with technology disrupting not only the dating scene but also the workforce, more workers are being displaced, and soft skills will be essential to learn for the next generation of the workforce.


Self initiative

Professional help

I explored the competitive landscape to understand the current resources users can turn to if they want help with public speaking. Two main points I derived were the high prices of finding professionals and the lack of emphasis on practicing on digital platforms.

How many people impacted? 200,000 People in the US alone say they are lonely.

75% Of the global workforce will be made up of millennials by 2025.

10% Of wages are cut by fear of public speaking

75% Of people suffer from speech anxiety prior to giving a presentation or public speech. That is, three out of four individuals suffer from pre-speech anxiety. This normalizes being nervous.

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Competitive landscape

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Fig. C.1 Pitch app screens.

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Fig. C.2 User journey ideation.

Unfilter: Dating in the Digital Age Fig. C.3 WHO, WHAT, WOW ideation.

Fig. C.5 Exploration board of Pitch.

Fig. C.4 Storyboard ideation.

Fig. C.6 Preliminary screens on sketch.

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Exploration Communication

The Opportunity The inspiration for Pitch stemmed from the environment I am currently in. I have the advantage of having the support network of my peers and professors to help me practice my presentations. But many people may not have those networks nearby, especially when moving to a new city and just starting a career. When someone moves to a new city, it can be quite lonely without family and friends to practice with and draw support from. The opportunity is to provide students, self-employed workers, and entrepreneurs who are starting their careers with a pitch-building app that will help build them Unfilter: Dating in the Digital Age

become communicators and build confidence to share their ideas. Pitch Board better 2 2020 18 notes isJan for24,people who get nervous speaking in public, with strangers, and especially 141 W 20th St, New York, NY

during interviews.

The Hills method Who



Utilizing the hill statement method and the who what wow, it helped me to specify: Who the project was for, why it was important to have this, and what would engage potential users. So for Pitch, the “who� were young graduates emerging 3M and Post-itŽ are registered trademarks of 3M

into professional careers and who struggle with public speaking, especially in interviews.

Young graduates who experience hardships in finding meaningful connection are offered challenges and activities to engage them in becoming more confidence in moments off-screen.


The Objective Pitch is trying to help people learn and practice talking. In the digital age, for many of us, our primary mode of communication is texting or emailing. But in many moments of people’s lives, certain situations will require them to speak. While some people are born with fiery confidence, there is a growing number of people who don’t have that.

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Fig. C.7 MVP of Pitch recorded on YouTube.

Exploration Communication

Process User-testing An area that is critical in the design process of obtaining useful insights is user testing. During this process. I created an initial Invision prototype to try out the features of the app and test out my initial assumption by asking: Would people want to use this? Target participants The target participants are focused for early graduates who are embarking on their journey of finding new jobs, adjusting to new environments. The focus is for the individuals who are moving to new cities and reestablishing their social circle or Unfilter: Dating in the Digital Age

work remotely who want to engage in social settings but are afraid to take the first step.

Fig. C.8 User-testing of screens on www.user-testing.com


Learning objectives •

What metrics are helpful to improving users pitches?

Are users able to navigate the app and accomplish the goal?

Would people find this platform helpful or interesting?

What are important or not so important features of the app?

Qualitative things to learn during testing: •

What data or feedback is most useful for the participants?

What is the biggest barrier for people to give presentations? What are they most fearful of?

What application/environment does the audience think this service is most useful for? How helpful was real-time feedback, compared with the analyzed feedback sent afterwards?

Did the following activities help users become more proactive in trying new things?

Findings A major finding from this test was filtering out all the other features to concentrate on the core goal of Pitch, which is to help users with their pitches. Therefore, really concentrating on the recording experience and making that the driving factor of the app is key. Overall, people are interested and would find practicing their pitches useful. For my next step, I want to concentrate on the recording feature of the app. I also want to set better prompts and filters to allow for a stronger understanding of what the user’s audience is, and want to set useful metrics based on their individual needs. Comments Most participants would like to engage in practicing their pitch again. “Yes I would since I didn’t exactly “record” my actual pitch today so I would like to see it working in action” Additional metrics to built in: •

Overall page of summary on how you did,

Length of pitch

Word suggestions, different adjectives like Grammarly suggestions.

Tonality patterns

Comparison metrics to see your progress

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Exploration Communication

Process MVP An MVP was created to further explore whether this be helpful and understanding what feedback would be useful for the user. A Google form to receive feedback digitally as well as pitch cards to compare the two spaces of pitching. I wanted to test it upon myself to understand the feeling and to see if this process would lead to improvements. Moving forward into the process, it was important to test out other core questions as to: Unfilter: Dating in the Digital Age

Would people feel comfortable speaking in a video?

Are people willing to do the activity?

Use this application while starting on the new business?

Is it important to have feedback from people with credentials?

Fig. C.9 Feedback cards.

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Fig. C.10 Google form.

Fig. C.11 Store front of Pitch Ad.

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The Outcome Pitch is a product to service users who are so attuned to editing aspects of their lives that when they get to the real-world applications, they fall short. They become scared to take a step leading closer to their goal. Pitch breaks the exercises into small, digestible activities, giving users incremental steps to practice and be aware of areas they can improve. Aspects such as tone, expression, and clarity that Pitch catches are the beginning parts to getting you to where you want to be. Communication is a powerful tool to express peoples’ opinions, thoughts, and ideas. Still, if people are afraid to interact with each other, then they will miss filtered, giving us the assumption that time is something we can save and control. But the fact of the matter is that spontaneous and abrupt mistakes can happen, and only when we fully embrace it can we become open to learn something new and grow.

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opportunities to achieve their goals. So many of the decisions we have today get

Exploration Communication

Live feedback AI metrics to give quick results to on your performance

Unfilter: Dating in the Digital Age Fig. C.12 Pitch features.

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Exploration Communication

Unfilter: Dating in the Digital Age Fig. C.13 Are you ready for your pitch?


Moving forward

In conjunction with communication, confidence is necessary in order to experience communication together, and leads people closer to the next goal. Whether it is choosing to swipe right, replying to someone’s message, or going on that first date, it all requires a bit of confidence. There are so many possibilities and directions Online dating can offer. It can span the whole spectrum,making you feel confident one minute and lowering your self-esteem the next. The last point that I want to explore about dating in the digital age is this idea of confidence. That sense of confidence does not have to come from yourself; confidence can be built from a community of supporters and the feeling that you are not the only one going through the same experiences. Online dating has inevitably fit users into individual silos, forcing them to make choices and have experiences all alone. Going through this experience alone only leads to a singular perspective, making it harder for people to spot patterns that they cannot see themselves. This keeps them in this endless loop of dating the same person. Therefore, the next section will introduce a service design to explore the idea of having the confidence to ask for help, as well as the courage to share with each other, to make the journey of finding love less lonely and even fun.

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the full potential of self-expression. Courage is what ties choice, reflection, and

Exploration Confidence

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Choice Reflection Communication Confidence

How might we build a service to encourage communal support for each other’s Online dating struggles? Wndr is an app that provides a safe community to receive dating advice from experts and other Online daters, setting them together on this path of finding love. Wndr is a service designed to offer Online daters a resource for them to ask questions and connect with other members of the community.

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Exploration Confidence

The Overview

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When dating Online, young adults are bombarded with so many choices in potential partners that they adopt the mindset that there is always someone better. Online dating has inevitably opened

Tinder users had lower self-esteem

doors to meet people outside of

than non-users (Strübel & Petrie, 2016).

primary social circles and workplace

Dating apps have trained users to be

settings. It has created an ease of

more hyper-aware of their appearance

access, providing an intuitive platform

but also more critical and judgmental

that can be navigated and controlled

towards others Therefore, with the fast

with simple gestures like swiping. The

inflow of matches to judge,the chance

paradox of choice explains why the

of rejection increases as well. Rejection

abundance of matches that Online

is as easy, as it is just a swipe. It causes

dating offers doesn’t always lead

significant distress to users. As one

to more positive outcomes. On the

CNN reporter puts it, “Our brains can’t

contrary, the abundance of choices

tell the difference between a broken

leads to more negative experiences,

heart and a broken bone” (Marateck,

and drives users’ motivation, self-

2018). The study from the National

esteem, sense of courage all down. A

Academy of Sciences states that

study polling 1,300 college students

rejection stimulates the same section

about their Tinder usage and their

of the brain that processes physical

body image found that, in general,

pain (Kross, Berman, Mischel, Smith, &

Fig. D.1 Wndr is to ask what ever you are wndring about...

Wager, 2011).

the users’ heads, making them second

Feeling rejected is a standard part of

guess themselves. In some cases, the

the human experience, but that can be

questions are directed to close peers

intensified, magnified, and made more

or family, but in many cases, it is hard

frequent when it comes to digital dating,

to expose personal struggles to others.

even though electronic communication

Psychologist Guy Winch says, “The

via social media and chatting has

greatest damage rejection causes is

generated mass connections. At the

usually self-inflicted. Just when our self-

end of the day, when the messages

esteem is hurting the most, we go and

stop and notifications slow down,

damage it even further” (Winch, 2015).

it all comes down to ourselves, and

Online dating and the turn-around

the experience is done alone. A lot of

time of rejection direct users to feel

judgment and thinking revolves around

emptiness, sadness, listlessness, and

this solo act of Online dating; people

even depression.

have to problem solve and figure it all out themselves. Whom to date, what to look out for, why it isn’t working? These questions are always floating around

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Exploration Confidence

The Opportunity Huber, a Chairman of Mainstream Mental Health, states that face-to-face interaction, even in small doses, can be beneficial in our tech-driven social lives (Strßbel & Petrie, 2016). There is value in meeting people face to face, but first, it takes courage, and there needs to be a movement against the automatic stigma of stranger danger. The opportunity is to apply technology as a tool to draw connections. Humans all desire social approval and companionship; an 80-yearold Harvard study has proven that relationships keep people healthy and alive longer (Mineo, 2018). There are also some benefits to taking the leap into Online dating, as reading others’ profiles can also one to reflect on why we value things and on our openness to new ideas. If we use it well, we can learn a lot about ourselves and make some Unfilter: Dating in the Digital Age

changes for the better. With that being said, no one ever said that the journey of discovering those connections needs to be done alone. The Great Work Study, conducted by the O.C. Tanner Institute, showed that 72% of people who receive award for their work as for advice outside their inner circle (Hass, 2018). Therefore, there is an opportunity to encourage users not to be afraid of the uncertainty, and to provide a platform to form support networks with the communities around them.

The Objective Wndr aims to encourage people to be more open-minded by opening up more conversations in real-time. This journey has also led me to see the opportunity for Online dating to be a tool for engagement and connection—a prospect to learn more about yourself, and even a chance to form communities.

Fig. D.2 Mock-up of Online dating conversation.


Process Problem Framing The slow elevator method was used to investigate and re-frame the original hypothesis that young adults entering into Online dating are pulled into a hookup culture, which lacks intimacy and leads to dissatisfaction. The re-framing process requires reiterating the root cause of the problem by asking the question of why, and by surfacing insight into an area that is more applicable to design around. Therefore, the final problem to design around is the idea that young adults are bombarded with so many choices in Online dating that they begin to feel that there could always be someone better. Then the next stage was to collectively

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brainstorm solutions through an ideation process.

Fig. D.3 Problem re-framing done on Miro.

Exploration Confidence

Process Hill Statement The hill method helps create clarity by answering the major questions of who this is for, what it does, and why it is excellent. I tried to keep in mind the end goal and overall experience that I want for wndr.

Who: The users of wndr are Online daters who are struggling to find a match.

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What: An app that provides relationship advice from dating experts and other Online daters. Wow: To mediate self-judgment and drive openmindedness towards Online dating.

Online daters who experience hardships when deciding whom to date are offered advice and support networks with experts and users to help mediate self-judgment and develop an open-mindedness towards Online dating.

Opportunity Statement Design a better way for Online daters who feel overwhelmed by the abundance of choices on Online dating, and help them feel supported to let go of the fear and try something new.



The services are plotted against a competitive landscape that compares the two spectrum of: •

Advice offered from an individual to collectives


If the information on the service is privately or publicly displayed


Wndr intends to plot itself on the top right quadrant of being collective and private.

Collective in that the advice is crowd-sourced by the users and experts. Private: being that the identities and personal information of the users stay secure and hidden so that users can confidently share and comfortably use the space.

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Competitive analysis

Exploration Confidence

Process Sketching and storyboard:

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During this stage, the visualization of the app screens was drawn to develop a clearer understanding of the user flow. I tried to keep in mind that the goal of wndr is to be a resource for users to reply upon for their dating struggle. Therefore, I want the experience to be as inviting and intuitive as if someone were to “Google� something. Creating the narrative also brought into focus the offering of personalization and discoverable features to the app, such as specific topics the users are interested in learning. Even though wndr is about going on this journey together, there still needs an assertion of the sense of self to encourage participation within the community. I created a storyboard to clarify which features to include in the app. This stage helped me explore more humanistically on what kind of emotions the user face and how they can wndr interact and offer support for them.

Fig. D.4 Sketches for Wndr.

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Fig. D.5 Storyboard for Wndr.

She continued to use it for several months but sees no progress.

Jenny feels helpless and just doesn’t know what she’s dong wrong.

Jenny is all set up and joins the wndr community

She starts to build out her first wndr on if she should make the first move

Comments started floating out that gave her different insights to her wndring.`

There are ice breakers for her to interact with the other participants.

Jenny starts moving her phone around and discovering other participants

Jenny has the opportunity to ask a question and ask for other peoples perspective

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Jenny just started to use Online dating


She paused and saw that it was a service to give relationship advice

She was curious and went on the app and started to build her profile.

She also explored the app some more and found a discussion panel with a topic she was interested about.

She waits till the room opens and joins the conversation

The rooms is an immersive experience that utilizes AR to interact with the audience

She enjoyed the discussion room as it gave her new ideas and courage to try something new for Online dating

Jenny goes back to her dating app and take up the courage to ask her match out and got a yes!

What ever you are wondering about, you do not have to wndr alone. Lets wndr together.

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One day Jenny passes a poster of wndr

Exploration Confidence

Process User testing The insight drawn from user testing was: •

Participants still feel uncomfortable sharing their experiences even though their identities are hidden from the other users.

The on-boarding process does not entice the user or excite the user into the app

The dashboard includes a lot of information, and it’s difficult to digest it all

The screens that show the AR interaction is intriguing for them, but they would like a more animated tutorial to clarify the instructions.

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From creating the MVP of the invision prototype, I realized I needed to pay more attention to how the text is presented on the screen and figure out ways to make the design more simplified and intuitive for the user to interact with. As much as it’s about the advice, what needs to be taken into account first is the ease of access to using the resource.

Fig. D.6 User-testing done on www.trymyui.com


The Outcome The project wndr is an app that brings the thesis back full circle, encouraging people to gain another perspective from the encouragement of others in the wndr community. Wndr aims to create an open space for people to communicate and enjoy the process of self-discovery. Many of us navigate our lives with lingering questions and fears without sometimes a solid support group to ask. Therefore, Wndr’s goal is to encourage individuals not to be discouraged if things do not work the way they wanted or if the road up ahead is a bit fuzzy, but to embrace the uncertainty of it all. We are all on this marathon called life, and each bump is just a

Fig. D.7 Receive comments from other users in the Wndr Community.

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pivotal stepping stone for us to learn and grow. Let’s wander together.

Exploration Confidence

Unfilter: Dating in the Digital Age Fig. D.8 Pitch deck user journey.

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Fig. D.9 Screens.

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Users will fill in a short quiz for Wndr to generate resources like blog post and dating experts that will best match to their interests.

Ask questions anonymously, Receive comments to offer you a different perspective to look at the matter.

Read daily opinions and trending topics from dating experts. Read popular wndrings from other members of the community and share comments.

Users can vote on daily polls on topics for upcoming video discussion panels curated by dating experts to learn from each other.

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Exploration Confidence

Unfilter: Dating in the Digital Age Fig. D.10 Wndr mural campaign.

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Exploration Confidence

Unfilter: Dating in the Digital Age Fig. D.11 Promotional item of Wndr T-Shirt.


Moving forward

My goal for my thesis became to embrace those feelings of imperfection and self-exploration, and put users into the mindset of embracing the little bumps we have in our journey. Confidence, in its original definition, was about the feeling of belief, trust, and faith. My definition of confidence is the forward movement of doing. Even though the decisions and choices you make on Online dating may be a bit fuzzy or unclear, it is OK to have those feelings—to have the confidence to expose vulnerability as a strength. Showing vulnerability can allow users to be more open to change, to understand new perspectives, to build intimacy, and to solidify connections. There are many benefits to exposing vulnerability, but for that to happen, you need the confidence to try. So many of us are living right now scared and unsure about our futures.

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fuzziness. Online dating can be utilized as a gateway to the multiple stages of

I often think about a quote from a picture book I read about Albert Einstein: “A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.� It forever stays with me, reassuring me whenever I face something I am not sure of and do not know where it will lead. I believe it is worthwhile to make mistakes. What is even more important is learning from them. We cannot guarantee the outcomes, but we can sure learn from them and take advantage of them. Online dating was my outlet to try to make mistakes, and I grew from it.

Next Section: Appendix


Journey into unfiltering Dating in the digital age Unfilter: Dating in the Digital Age

My journey to unfilter dating in the digital age began from looking at the dating apps themselves with the goal of creating a more positive experience. With further exploration into this topic, I realized the problem that needed to be addressed first is what is the mindset of users while they input themselves into Online dating. With the age of technology and the proficiency of algorithms dictating more and more aspects of our lives, users have been accustomed to subconsciously seeking patterns to back up and justify our actions. But the problem of this thinking is that it narrows our mindset to look for a straight answer where, in fact, they’re often is not. Especially when it comes to finding love, the Online dating industry has utilized this attraction and reliance on algorithms to dictate and limit our mindsets, and as a result, people feel even more lost, stuck, and fatigued using these applications. They provide just enough instant gratification to maintain engagement, and hopefully, the time investment will not be wasted. Therefore, in the second semester, I looked for tackling the issue more in not creating the solution by redesigning dating apps but to develop tools to re-frame our mindset to approaching Online dating. Tools that will require us to investigate and understand each other and, more importantly, ourselves. By understanding yourself, you can make more effective decisions based on the fact you know yourself better than others and especially generalized AI do. Tools to become more confident speakers. Through my own experiences in the Online dating landscape, I realized there were many instances where I needed to pitch myself. I needed to


Unfilter: Dating in the Digital Age

Friends and colleagues from work that helped me on this journey of unfiltering dating in the digital age.

convey myself in a way similar to how I would pitch a product in order to entice my dates to go on future dates and vice versa. In the beginning, it was quite daunting and particularly hard being more introverted and accustomed to staying in my own safe zone. But if you want to get results and find that mate, you need to get yourself out there. If you do not and instead keep yourself stranded in the Online environment, it is never going to work—unless you do not mind having a relationship entirely virtual.


With that being said, the primary mode of communication that people use today is our phones. This is the most comfortable for us because they offer a sense of control. After all, we are fearful of making a mistake and not planning. When we start typing, we can backspace, but when we talk, we cannot do that. People stutter and get nervous at the thought that people are judging them in real-time, and there is not enough practice and facilitation teaching us how to talk face to face. As more skills and jobs are being automated, softs skills like communication in workspaces are going to be more critical and necessary for the future of work. This also applies to dating. Apps may open doors to our dates, but they still require work to drive it to the final destination, which is getting into a relationship. Dating apps are not going to sit next to us on our dates, and there is no perfect equation to dictate what to say or do. We can only be present and adjust our responses Unfilter: Dating in the Digital Age

based on physical cues, such as smiles or crooked eyebrows. This journey of Online dating led me to find my partner, but more importantly, I looked upon it as a self-journey to explore more about myself and develop capabilities that I never thought I could, like saying no and speaking up. There may still be a lot of room for innovation and improvement when it comes to Online dating, but the first part is to look at yourself and to ask one question: Are you ready to take on this journey?

First sketch of the initial goal for this thesis.

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The End


Thank You

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Allan Chochinov for always pushing me to design beyond rectangles. Kristina Lee for always providing your support every step of the way. Marko Manriquez for your guidance in the resources we have in our studio. Elspeth Walker for an uplifting experience working with you on gallery. Sinclair Smith for encouraging us to work with our hands. Toshi Mogi for teaching me that business is useful for designers. Hylnur Atlason for opening my lens to branding. Emilie Baltz in allowing me to design for delight. Ayse Birsel in teaching me how to take time to explore my passion. Marc Dones for systems thinking. Andrew Dent to help me develop aspirational designs through materials. Michael Chung in showing me the power of a strong narrative. Megan Ford for teaching me how to negotiate. Shanti Mathew for making policy more approachable. Daniel Perlin in showing me the impact of climate change. Rob Walker teaching me how to build my manifesto. Jennifer Rittner for making writing more digestible. Jason Severs for pushing me to think with multiple senses. Richard Tyson and James Wynn for allowing us to explore the future. Krissi Xenakis in teaching us to think beyond screens. Masamichi Udagawa and Sigi Moelinger for thinking outside the box.

Victoria Ayo for being my morning buddy in studio. Helen Chen for always showing me interesting projects to look into Stephanie Gamble in always encouraging me to speak up. Bart Haney for inspiring me to always keep learning. Seona Joung for teaching me to begin like Beyonce. Yuko Kanai for motivating me to present more confidently. Yue Leng for always reminding me to take care of myself. Shin Young Park for the motivational hugs. Pantea Parsa for inspiring me with your awesome illustration skills. Weston Rivell for always being there to lend a hand. Theodore Scoufis for your funny jokes and honest inputs in class. Catherine Weislogel for checking up on me and seeing what’s up. Yufei Wang for reminding me to be patient in the process of making. Sherry Wu for showing me how to slow down while being efficient. Elvis Yang for showing me a new way to carry a drink. Hui Zheng for our product design conversations.

Unfilter: Dating in the Digital Age




Unfilter: Dating in the Digital Age

Ansari, A., & Klinenberg, E. (2016). Modern romance. New York, NY: Penguin Press. Carman, A. (2019, December 11). Swiping meant dating this decade, and it’s time for a change. Retrieved from https://www.theverge. com/2019/12/11/21004916/tinder-bumble-okcupid-swipe-decade-onlinedating-match-change DiGiulio. (2019, March 16). How to be better at Online dating, according to psychology. Retrieved March 27, 2020, from https://www.nbcnews.com/better/lifestyle/ how-be-better-online-dating-according-psychology-ncna979791 Dunne, A., & Raby, F. (2014). Speculative everything: Design, fiction, and social dreaming. Erscheinungsort nicht ermittelbar, MA: MIT Press. Eastwick, P. W., Karney, B. R., Reis, H. T., Sprecher, S., & Finkel, E. J. (2012). Online dating. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 13(1), 3-66. doi:10.1177/1529100612436522 Emery, L. (2018, April 25). 7 Tips For Creating A Balanced Relationship With Your Partner. Retrieved from https://www.bustle.com/p/how-to-create-abalanced-relationship-with-your-partner-8882248 Emery. (2017, March 14). How many people who meet on apps get married? Retrieved March 27, 2020, from https://www.bustle.com/p/how-manypeople-who-meet-on-dating-apps-get-married-swiping-isnt-just-forhookups-44359?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=owned&utm_ campaign=sexrelationshipsbustle

Friendship 2.0: Teens’ technology use promotes sense of belonging, identity. (2012, October 22). Retrieved from https://www.sciencedaily.com/ releases/2012/10/121022121726.htm Garcia, Reiber, C., Massey, S., & Merriwether, A. (2013). Sexual hookup culture: A review - JUSTIN R. GARCIA, CHRIS Reiber, sean G. massey, ann M. MERRIWETHER, 2012. Retrieved March 27, 2020, from https://journals. sagepub.com/doi/10.1037/a0027911 Gayla, M. (2019, August 23). Matchmaker, matchmaker still makes a match The Boston Globe. Retrieved March 27, 2020, from https://www.bostonglobe. com/lifestyle/2019/08/23/matchmaker-matchmaker-still-makes-match/ I2RjhqRwzEfWuSFvzkG9II/story.html Gorlick, A. (2009, August 24). Media multitaskers pay mental Price, Stanford study shows. Retrieved April 01, 2020, from https://news.stanford.edu/news/2009/ august24/multitask-research-study-082409.html Harris, T. (2019, October 16). How Technology is Hijacking Your Mind - from a Former Insider. Retrieved from https://medium.com/thrive-global/how-technologyhijacks-peoples-minds-from-a-magician-and-google-s-design-ethicist56d62ef5edf3 Hass, H. L. (2018, December 07). The power of asking for help. Retrieved April 20, 2020, from http://hitleader.com/leadership/the-power-of-asking-for-help/

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Holmquist, A. (2018, March 21). Professional Matchmaking is on the Rise. Why? Retrieved from https://www.intellectualtakeout.org/article/ professional-matchmaking-rise-why Jasper, A., & Wagner, N. (2019). Notes on Scent: Adam Jasper and Nadia Wagner. Retrieved from http://cabinetmagazine.org/issues/32/jasper_wagner.php Johnson. (2014, March 26). Hump day: How to craft the perfect Online dating profile. Retrieved April 20, 2020, from https://badgerherald.com/ artsetc/2014/03/26/hump-day-craft-perfect-online-dating-profile/ Keller, G., & Papasan, J. (2017). The one thing: The surprisingly simple truth behind extraordinary results. Austin, TX: Bard Press. Knapton, S. (2016, March 15). The Science of Dating: Why we should stop dating Unfilter: Dating in the Digital Age

Online. Retrieved from https://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2016/03/15/ the-science-of-dating-why-we-should-stop-dating-online/ Kross, Berman, M. G., Mischel, W., Smith, E. E., & Wager, T. D. (2011). Social rejection shares somatosensory representations with physical pain. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108(15), 6270-6275. doi:10.1073/ pnas.1102693108 Kuczynski, A. (1999, February 14). Running Cupid’s Wall Street office. Retrieved March 27, 2020, from https://www.nytimes.com/1999/02/14/business/personalbusiness-running-cupid-s-wall-street-office.html MacLean, S. (2019, December 15). Perspective | Technology is transforming our love lives - and our romance novels. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost. com/entertainment/books/technology-is-transforming-our-love-lives--andour-romance-novels/2019/12/13/bc893c2e-1de1-11ea-b4c1-fd0d91b60d9e_ story.html Madden, M., & Lenhart, A. (2019, December 31). Online Dating. Retrieved from https:// www.pewresearch.org/internet/2006/03/05/online-dating/ Mallela, S. (2018, June 07). IDENTITY IN THE DIGITAL AGE: OUR TRANSITIONING SENSE OF SELF. Retrieved from https://medium.com/@culturearoundus/ identity-in-the-digital-age-our-transitioning-sense-of-self-6dcbb27a2e63 Marateck, J. (2018, May 29). Online dating lowers self-esteem, increases depression. Retrieved April 07, 2020, from https://www.cnn.com/2018/05/29/health/ online-dating-depression-study/index.html


McElroy, M. (2012, October 22). Friendship 2.0: Teens’ technology use promotes sense of belonging, identity. Retrieved from https://www.washington.edu/ news/2012/10/22/friendship-2-0-teens-technology-use-promotes-sense-ofbelonging-identity/ Miley. (2018, March 12). Japanese man marries his favorite virtual REALITY anime in a Real chapel. Retrieved April 20, 2020, from https://interestingengineering. com/japanese-man-marries-virtual-reality-anime-real-chapel Mineo. (2018, November 26). Over nearly 80 years, Harvard study has been showing how to live a healthy and happy life. Retrieved April 07, 2020, from https:// news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2017/04/over-nearly-80-years-harvardMurray, M. (2018, October 31). 18 dating profile examples from the most popular apps. Retrieved April 20, 2020, from https://www.zoosk.com/date-mix/onlinedating-advice/dating-profile-examples-popular-apps/ Neal, R., & Sibug, J. (2013, August 20). 92% of U.S. Adults fear something about job Interviews, survey finds. Retrieved April 13, 2020, from https://www. globenewswire.com/news-release/2013/08/20/567932/10045445/en/92-ofU-S-Adults-Fear-Something-About-Job-Interviews-Survey-Finds.html Pardes, A. (2020, January 27). Tinder Swipes Right on AI to Help Stop Harassment. Retrieved from https://www.wired.com/story/tinder-does-this-bother-youharassment-tools/ Perel, E. (2017, March 24). How technology has transformed how we connect - and reject - in the digital age. Retrieved from https://ideas.ted.com/how-techhas-transformed-how-we-connect-and-reject-in-the-digital-age/ Pronk, T. M., & Denissen, J. J. (2019). A rejection mind-set: Choice overload in Online dating. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 194855061986618. doi:10.1177/1948550619866189 Rudder, C. (2016). Dataclysm: What our Online lives tell us about our off-line selves. 4th Estate. Sales, N. J. (2018). Swiped: Hooking up in the digital age. Retrieved March 27, 2020, from https://www.hbo.com/documentaries/swiped-hooking-up-in-the-

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digital-age Schwartz. (2016). The paradox of choice: Why more is less. New York, NY: Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins. Silva, C. (2019, October 09). 7 Things That Can Improve Your Online Dating Experience. Retrieved from https://thriveglobal.com/stories/7-things-that-can-improveyour-online-dating-experience/ Singer, N. (2008, February 14). The Sweet Smell of ... Nothing. Retrieved from https:// www.nytimes.com/2008/02/14/fashion/14skin.html Skillicorn, N. (2017, November 06). Diminishing law of innovation returns and the problem with “better”. Retrieved April 20, 2020, from https://www. ideatovalue.com/inno/nickskillicorn/2017/11/diminishing-law-innovationUnfilter: Dating in the Digital Age

returns-problem-better/ Smith, A. (2019, December 31). 15% of American adults use Online dating sites or mobile apps. Retrieved March 27, 2020, from https://www.pewresearch. org/internet/2016/02/11/15-percent-of-american-adults-have-used-onlinedating-sites-or-mobile-dating-apps/ Smith, M., Robinson, L., & Segal, J. (2020, April 15). Smartphone addiction. Retrieved April 20, 2020, from https://www.helpguide.org/articles/addictions/ smartphone-addiction.htm Strübel L., & Petrie A. (2016). Tinder: Swiping self esteem? Retrieved April 07, 2020, from https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2016/08/tinder-self-esteem Swisher, K. (2020). Recode Podcasts. Retrieved from https://www.vox.com/recodepodcasts Turkle, S. (2016). Reclaiming conversation: The power of talk in a digital age. Penguin Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Vogels, E. (2020, March 24). About half of Never-married Americans have used an Online dating site or app. Retrieved March 27, 2020, from https://www. pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2020/03/24/the-never-been-married-arebiggest-users-of-online-dating/ Wedell-Wedellsborg, T. (2017, January 18). Are you solving the right problems? Retrieved April 20, 2020, from https://hbr.org/2017/01/are-you-solving-the-


right-problems Wilkinson, A. (2020, January 29). Hollywood is replacing artists with AI. Its future is bleak. Retrieved from https://www.vox.com/culture/2020/1/29/21058521/ hollywood-ai-deepfake-black-mirror-gemini-irishman-cinelytic Winch. (2015, December 08). Why rejection hurts so much - and what to do about it. Retrieved April 07, 2020, from https://ideas.ted.com/why-rejection-hurts-so-

Unfilter: Dating in the Digital Age




Unfilter: Dating in the Digital Age

Belonging The reasoning why people are so engaged on their mobile device Is stemmed from our urgency to feel the sense of belonging by instant gratification of the tech-driven interactions. We need to learn to effectively alternate between both tech-driven interactions and meaningful human interactions. Communication (Face to face) There is no replacement for the value of face to face communication. Attributes like flirting, body language, eye contact are essential to draw a deeper connection. Flirting makes the person feel like they are the most important person. Compassion In dating, it is easy to assume what the other personality and background based on a few pictures and descriptions. But having compassion can allow more fruitful conversations and understanding to getting more about the other person without the barrier of judgment at first. Confidence The act of asking others for suggestions or feedback when trying out something new. In understanding, that mistake can happen but have the confidence to continue in this path that eventually it can lead to where they want to go.


Dating A social or romantic appointment or engagement with someone. Dating means you are actively getting out and spending time with someone to get to know that someone better. A first date is the initial meeting between two individuals that have not previously acquainted, wherein effort to get to know one another to know if there is a potential connection (romantic relationship, friendship, or just an acquaintance). Online dating A tool to experiment and test a hypothesis about your values and interest friendship, or even in our careers. Reflection Taking those incremental breaks in life to understand and draw clarity to the decisions we make. As dating in the digital age has brought an abundance of choice to the people, we match. It is crucial to sort out the characteristics that are the wants or needs not to be blinded by superficial attributes. Stranger We are all taught at a young age to not talk to strangers, approach strangers, be wary of the dangers of strangers. And this stranger danger mentality continues to distill upon our adult life. Still, the paradox of it is that we will face many situations in our lives, approaching and interacting with strangers. With the negative connotation and fear of approaching strangers, it leads up to be in cases where we are together but alone at the same time. Then it can become missed opportunities for having a meaningful conversation and missed opportunities to achieve a supportive community.

Unfilter: Dating in the Digital Age

to eventually leading in helping you find connections, whether it is for love,

Unfilter: Dating in the Digital Age

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