Andi Moblie Design

Andi is a Y Combinator-backed startup that uses AI and language models to create a better search engine. Andi summarizes its findings, giving simple answers to its users while encouraging divergent online journeys. The team consisted of me and three others.

We focused on the mobile application and used Andi's mission as design inspiration. Andi uses a machine learning-powered method of page ranking that stands in opposition to the SEO-optimized, advertisement-cluttered, and data-tracking state of modern search engines. As a techy alternative to the industry giants, we knew that Andi's target audience was digital natives who frequently use search engines, such as Google, and are looking for a better alternative.

Andi uses AI to find direct, accurate answers. This simplicity directly translated to our streamlined UI, which encourages exploration and highlights the most crucial information.

Part 1: Sketching

We brainstormed what Andi could look like in the following sketches, ranging from a persona that engages with the user to a traditional search engine interface. We also played with the way results are shared and organized. While designing, we considered layouts that would be easiest for a new user to apply their existing mental maps, while also communicating Andi's difference from its competitors.

Part 2: Wireframing

After sketching, we mocked up the concept in Balsamiq. In the end, we decided to follow a traditional search engine layout, as prototyped in the second sketch. This design communicates Andi's difference in the simplcity of the search results rather than a radical UI. We displayed results that summarize the most relevant information first, then follow up with more context upon interaction. We agreed that stepping too far out of convention would go against Andi's goal of creating a smooth, simple search experience. We also included an "About Andi" modal that communicates Andi's unique mission to users.

Part 3: Prototyping

Following a critique with an industry professional, we incorporated a handful of changes, including:
  • Addition of a bolded, simplified description of Andi on the “How it works” frame. This “TL;DR” text embodies Andi's ethos by giving a straightforward, quick answer to the frame's proposed question
  • Addition of contextualizing captions to image and video results
  • A more consitent use of shadows to signify clickable elements

Part 4: User Testing

The last step was testing our prototype with real users, giving them the following prompt:

"Andi is a search engine that uses AI models to generate simple answers to your questions. Presented here is a prototype of Andi's user interface, designed specifically for mobile users. Suppose you want to visit the Brown Computer Science Department offices. Using Andi, find the location of the Brown CS department and open the location in Apple Maps. As you complete the task, please think aloud so that our designers can better understand your train of thought while using the interface. Thank you!"

And these subtasks:
  • Using Andi, search for "Brown CS"
  • Navigate to the result containing the department's location
  • Open the building's location in "Maps"

From our first respondent, we noticed that he struggled with the second subtask. He found the search bar easily and was able to determine each component on the page. However, he expressed trouble figuring out whether he was supposed to select from the field of search queries automatically populated in the search bar or to click the search button call-to-action (CTA). This struggle is something that we anticipated, as our prototype used a mock version of type-to-search functionality, so the search queries populating the dropdown menu were not based on anything the user typed in. This initial confusion was likely due to the user's mental model of type-to-search dropdowns in other interfaces, where, as you type, results are dynamically populated. However, our given dropdown menu only displayed content that we manually added to display on the screen. The user did, however, successfully search for Brown CS.

Once all the users completed the first task, they were able to successfully search on our interface and complete the remaining subtasks. The second respondent was able to complete the tasks quickly and validated our expectation that the interface would be intuitive for a user unfamiliar with Andi, stating that the app was “super simple and easy to use” at timestamp 1:32.

We found that the third user had an easy time navigating through the app and completing the tasks. She only struggled with navigating from the individual search result page to the “open in maps” button. Both the third and first users expressed difficulty with noticing the maps icon on the search results page. Since this was a bottleneck for two of the three users, improvements on our interface include distinguishing between navigating the embedded in-app map and opening the address on their phone's map software.

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