Mutual Chat Just Got That Much Better

Hi, I’m Hunter Paramore, Director of UI/UX Design at Mutual. I’m excited to share with you today some of our recent updates we’ve made to the Mutual Chat, spotlight some of the new features, and deep dive into the research behind some of the changes.

Major Chat Improvements

We’ve made some major improvements to our in-app chat, fixing some long-standing bugs, adding new features, and making it more reliable.

Updates Include:

  • ‘New Matches’ now show those about to expire first.
  • ’Your Turn’ indicator has been added to conversations in the list.
  • Pin or un-pin profiles to the top by swiping left on the conversations.
  • Search bar was removed from conversations. (Want it back? Let us know!)
  • Entirely updated the Conversation and Chat interface to focus on clarity, reduce clutter, and work faster.
  • Updated how chat is handled by our server, greatly increasing the speed and reliability of messages and notifications.

‘New Matches’ now show those about to expire first.

We took a closer look at how we were showing new matches at the top of the chat. Previously, matches were shown in the ‘newest first’ order. This meant that once a person moved several spots to the right, they had a very low chance of being shown again and would eventually disappear once the 7 days were up.

After some consideration and surveys, we decided to reverse the order that new matches showed up so that the oldest matches (ie, those who would be expiring soon) would show up first. This allows them to always be seen, even if they have to wait 5-6 days until they are about to expire. (Though, you really shouldn’t be waiting 7 days to message new matches… just saying 😉)

The aim of this is to help more profiles be seen before they expire.

Future updates may include notifications letting you know that matches are about to expire, or suggest ways to break the ice with your new match.

‘Your Turn’ Indicator

Never ghost a match again! (Well… Accidentally anyway!)

Conversations now include helpful notices at the top that let you know when it is your turn to continue the conversation.

Pinning profiles to the top of your chat has moved.

Pinning profiles still function the same, but how you do it has changed.

Previously, each conversation in the entire list had a little gray star in the top right that allowed you to tap on it and ‘pin’ the conversation to the top of your chat list. This helped to keep people you are actively talking to at the top for quick access.

With the addition of the ‘Your Turn’ indicators, we felt that the conversations list was getting a little too crowded with icons, text, lines, and colors, so we decided to simplify the pin action and put it into the “slide to the left” action sheet.

You can also choose to pin a conversation from the messaging screen by using the three dot menu up by the persons name.

Completely Redesigned the Chat UI

In talking with Mutual users about our app, the individual chat interface was one of several topics that came up in nearly every conversation. Many of those we interviewed said that they would exchange phone numbers or other contact info so that they wouldn’t be burdened with dealing with Mutual’s various uh…. “Chat Quirks” (Bugs)

We took that feedback to heart while researching and designing these various updates, and are confident that these updates will make the experience of chatting more streamlined and natural.

Before and After the new update

Improvements include:

  • Updated Chat Input Sheet to be able to handle 100%+ more text per line, and to scale with the content.
  • Redesigned the ‘to’ and ‘from’ message bubbles to be able to show more text on the screen at once, and have a better color harmony with the rest of the app.
  • Shrunk the name and avatar bar at the top by half, giving even more room for messages.
  • Read Receipts got a facelift and are now much smaller and positioned below the messages rather than on the right.
  • Added the ability to pin conversations from the three dot menu in the top right.

Chat Infrastructure Update

The least glamorous but perhaps most important part of the update has to do with the technology we use to power the chat itself. We’ve totally rebuilt the chat list fixing many long-standing bugs, made numerous stability improvements which lightened things up and significantly decreased the load time. The end result is a quicker, better performing chat that we are very proud of.

We still have a few things we are working on under the hood, as well as several new features we have yet to implement, however this update on its own is a massive upgrade to Mutual’s chat and we hope you enjoy it!

Bugfixes, Changes, and Improvements:

  • Chats no longer flash when moving back to the conversation list.
  • Conversations no longer scroll to the top when going back to the conversation list. (🎉)
  • Archived profiles now load in chunks, rather than all at once (which could cause it to appear like it wasn’t working).
  • Search bar was temporarily removed from the conversations list. (Want it back? Let us know!)
  • Pinning conversations has been moved into the ‘Slide Left’ action menu.
  • Typing indicators, as well as new messages now appear quicker.
  • The individual chat header has been reworked significantly and now shows double the amount of text, in addition to growing taller to fit the content you write.

Enjoying the update? Let us know in our Chat Update Survey, or by leaving a review in the App Store or Google Play Store.

About the Author

Hunter Paramore

Hunter has been with Mutual since it was first created back in 2015. He is one of Mutual’s founders, and worked nights and weekends on this until 2021, where he was able to transition to be Mutual’s Full-Time Director of UI/UX Design. He currently is responsible for all of the interface design, product branding, and user research.

Hunter attended college at BYU-Idaho, where he graduated with a BFA in Graphic Design, with a focus on interface design. Since then, he has experience working both at smaller, more agile agencies, as well as major international corporations designing interfaces, testing products, developing branding and marketing materials, and designing web and native apps.

Hunter lives in Lehi, Utah with his wife and three boys, and enjoys listening to power metal, playing drums, airsoft, playing video games, and doing things with his family.

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