Enhancing experiences to hangout in virtual space: Hikeland

The story starts with a simple hi. It’s not just a greeting👋 , it's how we are known globally. It is Hike messenger.

At the time when the world was shutting down and cities were going into lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we here at Hike decided to roll out a new futuristic way of connecting together. A social platform that would be joyful, built around people, fun, and celebrating the depth of relationships. A medium that allows people to be their true selves and go beyond the limits that hold them back in the real world.

Enters Hikeland

Basically, Hikeland is a virtual space with 2 main experiences, to begin with. First, Hike Home to hang out and have shared experiences with friends, and second, Big Screen to watch cinema together with people and make new connections.

A deeper dive into people’s emotion

In Hike Home, the concept development to enhance experience went deeper where we explored many possibilities to recreate real life emotions onto this social experience.

We wanted users to get involved. As we show a thought bias towards valuing a product more when we are more involved in it or in other words when we take part in its creation. Remember how the trip you planned for everyone has ended up being the most memorable to you because you were involved in the process. This is also known as the IKEA effect (a term coined by the researchers).

Customized/personalized spaces

A customizable space means one’s own space. We get a better sense of ownership when the stuff is kept just our way. The same concept applied here, space where users can choose between the interiors, objects, and backgrounds. Liberty to move things around, keep those which are liked and throw the rest.

Adding functionality as a trigger to choice

To keep things interesting, engagement is a must. I mean, what people need more than just a fanciful UI to create their personal space is the purpose. We built a space where selection can be made based on its functionalities. For example, a room that is equipped with a TV and a music system allows you to watch TV together and share music together with friends. Helping the user take a decision based on functionality adds a further layer to the engagement, plus creates attachment just like people have in the real world.

Virtual land navigation

Just a simple case of theme selection that can be solved easily via the listing, but that's not how it’s done in the real world. An interface that allows users to roam around, enter homes and then decide is what was needed. In the above interface, users can scroll left to right, top to bottom, and see different homes. He can enter any home check it out > move out > enter another home > and then make his decision. Just how he would behave in the real world.

Enhancing the invite experience

Since Hikeland was built on top of messaging experience, the process to invite someone to home was as below:

Old flow

Let's take a scenario where Jack and Anjali are chatting and jack wants to invite Anjali to his home to watch some videos together.
Step 1: Jack has to get out of the chat to the main screen
Step 2: From the main screen, he will enter Hikeland
Step 3: From Hikeland he will enter home
Step 4: From home, he will click on the invite button and search for Anjali to invite
Step 5: Then Anjali will join post her acceptance of the request

New flow

Introducing the invite button in chat to reduce the time of this action which will in turn allow the user to use the feature more and more. Leading increase in adoption and more n more connections happening through shared experiences. A five-step process went to a single step, a huge change in experience, isn’t it?

New single step process for invite

In conclusion, these were a few projects out of many in the UX development phase. Overall, I have tried to just give a glimpse of a virtual land under development from a UX lens with many more exciting things to come. Hope this gave a sense of the thought process involved in building a product like this.

Cheers!

Love to declutter the world by making things simple, as they are. Afterall, everything is not a rocket science.