Honest X

Honest X

About Work

User Research Consulting for The Skin Deep™

The Skin Deep is an Emmy award winning creative studio that explores human connection amidst a constantly growing digital landscape. From card games to interactive storytelling platforms, their purpose is to offer experiences that spark exploration of our humanity. The Skin Deep has evolved most recently into the e-commerce world with {THE AND} card games. Inspired by the tremendous response the TSD community had towards their videos and the desire to be able to participate in similar conversations that they were viewing, {THE AND} cards were created, allowing people to experience more meaningful connections in any space. There are currently eleven relationship-specific editions, ranging from Family, Dating, Married, to Friends, Exes, Co-workers, and Strangers.

The newest {THE AND} venture was similarly formed from community responses: people wanted to dig deeper into intimacy and were using the card games as a means to facilitate constructive conversations. From this, Honest X emerged: a nonjudgemental game to explore sexual expression.

I was hired as a UXR consultant primarily for foundational research and its subsequent analysis, to help define and guide the direction the product should follow. Although my part has finished, it is still an ongoing project and therefore some data has been omitted until launch. Both tactical and post-launch research have not occurred yet, so any conclusions stated are liable to change.

Navigation:

The Challenges

When partners want to explore intimacy, but don't have a way to break the ice, it can potentially result in more frustration and miscommunication in the relationship- regardless of how long they've known each other. Looking to outside products or resources to help start conversations has been more normalized, but the current market of sex resources leaves consumers looking for more serious and reliable products to help explore intimacy effectively.

Priority questions regarding product direction were as follows:

  • Should the product be oriented for groups or one-on-one?
  • Should the nature of the cards be fun/casual or more serious?
Secondary questions included:
  • Should relationship status be taken into consideration?
  • Should it be specifically for those who are already in a form of a relationship?

Hypothesis

User Goal Business Goal

By creating a gameplay that asks vulnerable, pre-determined questions through the lens of other perspectives, individuals are freed from potential feelings of pressure from "why" it is being asked, and a nonjudgemental, safe, environment is created to aid in constructive communication surrounding sensitive subject matter.
By designing questions to be accessible and ubiquitous, antiquated understandings of what "intimacy" means in relationships are lifted, allowing space for more nuanced experiences and open conversation.

The Solution

Solutions were focused on designing an experience for one-on-one gameplay, with questions guided to be more serious in nature. Questions are used alongside five set guide cards to help navigate through nine series of "decks" with varying degrees of subjects.

While quantitative data provided answers into preferential context for conversations and key demographics, qualitative insights through long-form open ended questions showed that many users wish they could speak more seriously on the subject, feel less shame, and not be open to any judgement while doing so.

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Questions & Observations

To help better frame any problems with the product and guide survey design, the following structure [situation], [response], [problem to business or experience] was used to ensure awareness of users and business needs.

When intimacy is seemingly too embarrassing a topic to discuss, partners aren't able to communicate their needs, which causes frustration and strain on the given relationship
When there are pre-determined questions around sensitive topics, individuals are less likely to feel judgement around "why" they are being asked, which causes feelings of openness and constructive communication to occur.
When questions are asked outside of the reader's perspective, individuals are put in a space to answer in a new light, which causes potential realizations they wouldn't have had otherwise.

Survey Design

The survey was sent out to The Skin Deep's newsletter subscription community- this was a specific choice due to the variety of users they have across their platforms, with the newsletter subscribers being the most active and willing to participate with user feedback. Given time constraints, the survey design aimed to fulfill both qualitative and quantitative questions.

Along with understanding users' feelings and frustrations surrounding intimacy in general, the top priorities the user survey was to address were: would customers respond more to "fun" or "serious" style questions? Does relationship status effect feelings surrounding intimacy vulnerabilities?

  • Before any strategic research, some stakeholders wanted to specifically formulate the product for couples, thinking single people would have no interest in a product like this. This was a limited view on what 'intimacy' means, extremely heteronormative view on relationships.
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The survey was designed to have seven close-ended questions to define demographics (age, gender identity, relationship status, etc) and four open-ended questions to understand more deeply how users felt regarding their own intimacy and how they discuss it with others.

Survey Results & Quantitative Analysis

Survey Table:
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Quantitative Breakdowns:

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The macro data on the demographics aligned with previous market research done by The Skin Deep: predominantly female-identifying aged 24 to 36, in some form of a relationship.
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In breaking down demographics to relationships, it became clear that regardless of status, users overwhelmingly preferred to talk about intimacy & desires in a one-on-one setting. Surprisingly, there was a nearly equal 3-way split regarding the nature of conversation, for all relationship statuses both individually and together.
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Qualitative Synthesis & Ideation

Long-form open ended answers all pointed to feelings of judgement, shame, and a wanting to better understand themselves in a way they haven't before. Most importantly- relationship status had no defining effect on answers. All users, across the board, shared feelings more similar to each other than different.

• How would you describe your relationship to talking about sex? • Is there anything that frustrates you about having conversations around sex and intimacy? • If you could change the way you talk about your intimacy and desires, what would it be and why? • Why is talking about sex, intimacy, and desire important to you?
Open-Ended Question Responses
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Prioritised Problems

  1. How to create a safe space and establish consent, given the subject matter: addressing sensitive topics can bring up feelings of shame, fear, or loss, and be triggering for some- therefore care must be taken in the gameplay to create a nonjudgmental environment.
  2. How to release feelings of "pressure" from being asked questions: some find topics surrounding intimacy to be extremely shameful and unable to communicate how they might feel about it.

Hypothesis

By creating a gameplay that asks vulnerable, pre-determined questions through the lens of other perspectives, individuals are freed from potential feelings of pressure from "why" it is being asked, and a nonjudgemental, safe, environment is created to aid in constructive communication surrounding sensitive subject matter.

User Goal Business Goal

Questions, Style & Design

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  • Questions formed were to address subjects users brought up that they had difficulty with: tapping into inner feelings, being asked to comment on discomfort, etc.
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The color design choices for the different sets of decks within the game have an ombre effect to convey "deeper" questions without it being too in-your-face, like wading into a pool. The gradient nature also reflects how intimacy is a spectrum of emotions and rarely exists in black and white scenarios.

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Initial Product Shots

Below is the first iteration of the product created

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