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A Case Study on Onboarding
Demonstrating Unique Value & Establishing  User Trust 

what is koya?

KOYA | /koi-ya/

(n). A magical message

KOYA is a hyper-personal communication platform,

using time mapping & geo fencingIts technology  fascilitates meaningful touchpoints through location specific messages and gifts.

It was a dilemma; in order for KOYA to perform its magic, it needed  sensitive data.

We quickly became aware that our work with this wonderful brand would require a human-centered design approach, grounded in empathy.

KOYA’s existing onboarding process makes it difficult for users to set up and engage with the app.


Because of this, users are dropping off during the initial onboarding & set up.

How might we seamlessly onboard users, while showing them the unique value of what KOYA has to offer new users?


The KOYA team came to us concerned about their onboarding process. They saw that they were losing users at early stages of engagement, and they knew they needed to figure out why. 

They were not confident that they effectively communicated the unique value of the app. They suspected the reason may be because of a wariness around privacy issues

the duration 

Three Weeks

my role

UX Designer on a team of four.


setting the stage:

the problem space

"Everyone wants some magical solution to their       problem and everyone refuses to believe in magic"

                                                               - Lewis Carroll

At its essence, KOYA is in the business of deepening relationships. It comes to life on a world stage at a time where human connection is more valued than ever. 

Yet, simultaneously, a time when our vulnerability is exposed as we question the security and trustworthiness of the very tool we are forced to depend on. 

the audience


  • The approximate 28,000 couples in long distance relationships in the US.

  • Millennials & GEN Z's.

  • Families and friends separated by distance.


Before diving into our research, it was important to define our goals.


We imagined:

  • an onboarding process that communicated KOYA's unique value right off the bat.

  •  Users feeling a sense of trust and delight while discovering its capabilities.

  • Users having clear context for sharing private data. 

Our first step was to discover...

Where were the friction points ?

Why were these areas of concern to them? 

What key factors were motivating users to drop off

What are user  preferences with on-boarding, in general?


"Science is magic that works"

- Kurt Vonnegut

We started our research by evaluating the current app at its baseline.

First, verifiable, measurable data through usability testing.

Green Phone


We put KOYA into the hands of users, giving them clear tasks..

We observed them make their way through the app.  

Woman on her Tablet


  • Sign up through onboarding

  •  Sending your first KOYA. 


Ten people, GEN Z and Millenials ...the target audience for KOYA. 

what we learned about usability 

a lack of context

Almost all users skipped the onboarding video, which led to little understanding of the app.

"I don't want to sit through a video.  If there's an option to skip ... that's me !!"

"Wait a sec...why do they want my contacts? Are they gonna try to reach all my friends?"

reluctance to share sensitive data

Many of the steps, including sharing private information are mandatory causing users to hesitate and question.



 a lack of context led to a lack of clarity on purpose


Lack of clarity & context thus led to confusion about the purpose of features and an overall disconnection from the intended experience of the app.

"If I take the time to go through all the onboarding, and i still don't get it ... you lost me"


Our next step was to conduct user interviews, for more qualitative feedback; how users felt about the process.

Serious Conversation

user interviews

This is where we set out to get qualitative data.

We wanted to understand how users feel when going through an onboarding process for any app.

Book Pages

the discussion guide

THE interviewees

Five people, GEN Z and Millenials ...the target audience for KOYA. 

what we learned from interviews


Users want a clear, easy process that is clear in describing function and purpose.


Users will share sensitive data IF they have context as to why it is needed and how it is used.


Users want to use the app without going through mandatory onboarding. Users tend not to like mandatory anything!

developing the koya persona

To leverage all these insights from our research, we created a persona. This caricature based directly on real data about the target audience, allows us to deepen our empathy, and always guides us back to the KOYA user.


Our next step was develop our persona, Ava.

Her persona is a semi-fictional representation of our target users. Her caricature is based on our user research.

Screenshot 2021-03-16 at 19.26.51.png

it's all about the journey ...

Our persona led us to our journey map, taking a basic task that Ava needs to perform in KOYA; onboard and send her boyfriend a KOYA. 

Here we consider and highlight her emotional painpoints

We plot her highs and lows

Screenshot 2021-03-16 at 19.57.37.png

Her highs emphasize the strength and reason for being of the pp.

Her lows show us all the opportunities to improve the design.

the opportunities we found


Express the unique value of KOYA as quickly as possible, in a delightful way


Guide users. Let learning happen AS they use the app.


Especially where data sensitivity is concerned.


A sense of controllability is essential for establishing trust.

the alchemy of design studio

The collaborative process of Design Studio is always enlightening. It was a fantastic opportunity to include the KOYA team in rapidly ideating. Focusing in on the opportunties we now knew we had to improve, we welcomed all ideas at how to visualize the re-design.

Screenshot 2021-03-16 at 20.22.45.png

the real magic: turning problems into solutions

We found that users were not grasping the unique value & concept of KOYA

SO ...

we created an interactive instructional experience combined with the ability for users to send their first KOYA. This educates users about what a KOYA is by guiding them through the process 

Screenshot 2021-03-23 at 15.35.07.png

We implemented arrows to signify the interactivity involved

Users were skipping the initial video explaining KOYA's added value.

SO ...

We created an interactive carousel that educated users upfront about what this app is before signing up. 

Screenshot 2021-03-23 at 15.35.35.png

We replaced the video with illustrations to visually communicate the added value of KOYA


We realized that users wanted to first learn what KOYA was before agreeing to sign up. 

SO ...

We carefully placed the sign-up page after the carousel

Screenshot 2021-03-23 at 15.36.17.png


Screenshot 2021-03-16 at 20.53.05.png

testing our design

Finally, we moved into two rounds of usability testing with our prototype. Here we looked for quantitative measure on functionality so that we could asses improvement efficiently.

Green Phone


We put KOYA into the hands of users, giving them clear tasks..

We observed them make their way through the app.  

Woman on her Tablet


  • Sign up through onboarding

  •  Sending your first KOYA. 


Five people, GEN Z and Millenials ...the target audience for KOYA. 

our comparative scores

We were excited about our testing results. We measured our improvements in three ways: 

  • success rate

  • easiness rating 

  • time on task

Screenshot 2021-03-23 at 15.36.57.png

We tested for the length users took to onboard and send their first KOYA. We cut down the time it took to do this task by 3:66 minutes! 

The easiness rating went up by  1 star with users giving it a 4 out of 5.

The success rate which measures the ability for users to directly  complete this task increased by 30%.

it was important also, that we asked users for feedback

  • Whether they could describe at a high level, what KOYA offered.

  • If they felt they had context for sharing sensitive data.

  • If they found the process easy to use and delightful

all particpants confirmed positively for all of the above

KOYA's unique values persisted.We aligned with the voice of their brand and their vision, which honored most ...











Our user research enabled us to contribute to its' iteration successfully, establishing trust with users and clarifying the essence of what this tech for good mobile app offers.

next steps & recommendation

As we moved  into the final stages of the design and development phase we have identified 3 main areas of focus for our next steps, which we shared with the KOYA team in final presentation.

Make the changes!

Adjust the areas that were causing most friction, including making privacy optional & switching video with interactive onboarding

More Testing

Conduct another round of usability testing, and include the changes from those tests, identifying any further areas of friction.

Consider API's

Spotify, or Youtube for users to connect their music swiftly

Consider new ways to share a KOYA

The home page re-design offers new avenues to present this call-to-action



For ease of handing over our design to engineering for implementation, we included the following:

  • A Spec Doc, including

  1. A style guide​

  2. High fidelity mockups with annotations

  3. A link to the prototype

  • An asset file​

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