Discover & Connect on Tango

Improving a popular feature to increase engagement

The concept of discovery is a growing idea for social applications right now. Being that Tango is a social messaging application, growing our discovery platform was the natural thing to venture into. We also found that social discovery was already a significant engine for growth for Tango. Thus, we decided to evolve and modernize our discovery experience.

We knew that Tango was an application that appealed to a lot of international users seeking companionship. However, this did not mean Tango was a dating application or evolving into one, it meant that people were utilizing the discover aspect of Tango for making new connections, both platonic and romantic.


Improving the Wheel

The goal of social discover is to surface discoverable content. The original design bucketed the content into 6 different categories. The content within the entry points was generally the same and forced users to make decisions before discovering the content. This caused the drop off rate to be fairly high after the users clicked through to a category and discovered it wasn’t the experience they expected.

Job Stories

I had read about this article awhile back about job stories being a much more effective way of identifying features. It focuses on identifying motivators instead of specific features.

When I'm using Tango, I want to discover and connect with interesting people, so I can make more friends.

When I'm discovering people, I want to save them quickly, so I can continue discovering and message them later.

When I discover people I'm interested in, I want to find out more about them, so I can send them an engaging message.

When I'm using Discover, I want to control how I find people, so I can have more valuable connections.

When I'm using Discover, I want to have control of who I see, so I find people who are relevant to me.

When I'm using Discover, I want to have control of how I'm discovered, so I can feel safe connecting with strangers.

Triggering Action

The design should provide triggers to engage a user discovering someone. In the design, we included a priority list of information for users to create connections:

  • Meta data: Location, gender, age, active status
  • Contextual Module 1: "About me" blurb
  • Contextual Module 2: Mutual connections
  • Contextual Module 3: Recent posts
  • Contextual Module 4: Popularity meter

The initial action we allow users to take from the discovery experience was to save the discovered person to their favorites list. This sends out a notification to the other person. It served as an unobtrusive way for inviting another individual to start a conversation. The second action the recipient can take is to go directly to the profile which then allows the user to save the discovered person to favorites or directly message them.

Because a notification is sent out every time a user adds another user to favorites or when they message a stranger, the reward is a response. When a response comes in, it means a connection has been made. The user is then automatically added to their Tango contacts for safe keeping.

The investment is continued conversations. When chat requests lead to ongoing conversations, we know we've accomplished something significant. Once a user finds that the experience is addicting enough, they'll continue to use is regularly.

Success Metrics

  • Increase in time spent on Tango
  • Increase in time spent on Discover
  • Increase in new conversations started-this is different from the number of chat or friend requests sent
  • Increase in revenue drive by an increase in daily active users


Journeying From Point A to B

Creating userflows has allowed me to map out the task flows I ultimately want users to journey through. I've worked directly with Product Managers to refine these flows for engineering teams. The flow also evolves with the refinement of the design and vice versa.

Design Studios

At Tango, one of the ways we arrive at new ideas is by holding design studios. The idea came from Good Kick Off Meetings. Rather than allowing the product team to come up with the newest feature's functionalities, we bring people from cross-functional teams together to come up with a wider variety of ideas. Below are a few sketches from design studio sessions

Establishing UX Patterns

Visual Solutions

First time user experience was extremely important for us because of the fragility of engagement for new features. We wanted to present an experience that was friendly, familiar, and communicative. We also wanted to create an experience that was clear, meaning interactions would be easy to adapt to and learn. In addition, we wanted to provide value from the first time a user enters the experience, thus, copy was written very precisely. We also needed to consider globalization since majority of our users were overseas. This meant, copy and instructions needed to be concise and translatable to other languages.

Design for first time user experience that enables profile settings and confirmations

Return user experience is a lot more valuable and complex. Since users were presented with the ability to save other users to their favorites, we provide them with a bank of saved profiles in which they can contact. Additionally, we provide them with the ability to perform actions that sustain their safety on the application like advanced privacy settings and blocking of unwanted chat requests. Ultimately, we felt that the experience would give users the ability to control how they wanted to meet new people.

Design for the messaging experience had to ensure privacy for the recipient of the chat request


Measuring Success

If number of swipes can increase, people can discover more profiles which can lead to more chat requests sent, increasing the chances of new conversations started.

We created a success funnel to illustrate what we needed to optimize:


The launch of Discover was done progressively. We knew that the design was drastically different from the existing experience our users were accustomed to, and therefore, presenting them with this new experience could be jarring and lead to drop-offs. We decided to test it with small portions of users to start. Since this was a people discovery feature we chose to roll it out to the users who showed the most interest in our existing discovery feature. This allowed us to continue iterating while receiving valuable feedback from real users regarding the new experience without impacting the majority of our userbase.

Key Takeaways - Next Steps

Since rolling out the new feature, we've learned a lot about Tango users. We saw that a portion of our users are avid users of Discovery. I'm not authorized to disclose the exact metrics, but individuals would swipe up to thousands of cards for the reward of starting a few conversations with a few strangers. It's an interesting psychological game. Through interviewing some of them, we found that very rarely do they use the feature for dating. Their primary goal was for companionship. Many times it was triggered by the need to have a momentary casual conversation with someone who had zero biases about their current life.

The other finding we made was that a huge portion of our users primarily use the app for its communication features. The core of our app is still very much focused on allowing Tango users to communicate with their friends and family through messaging as well as audio and video calls. In allowing a feature like Discovery to dominate much of the application, a lot of our private users were receiving overwhelming amount of unwelcome chat requests from strangers who were focused on meeting new people. This obviously caused a lot of issues and eventually we decided that it was time to transition the application into more focused experiences for our 2 core groups of users, one more interested in social and the other messaging. Thus, creating the app-split redesign which is explained in detail in this case study.