Ping Pal started as concept mobile application that I worked on with the Jerry Koepp while at Slalom. We set out to answer the questions "How might we build trusting relationships among colleagues?" We looked a ways we could create real human connections between people, the kind that last over time. I worked on user research, talking to potential users and collating themes. After generating a number of different ideas and evaluating the options we settled on modernizing the pen pal concept, giving it a name that spoke to its nascence and its intent: Ping Pal. After doing some sketching I wireframed and tested some concepts while Jerry took those wireframes to visual design, continuing to test and refine as he did so.
There are two key components to Ping Pal: quick simple fun questions and gateways to longer interactions among one or more people. Using the answers to simple, fun questions Ping Pal matches people who have common interests. While we realize that people who like salty things don't necessarily have a lot in common, it does create an engagement mechanism that encourages people to dig deeper and learn more.
Gateways are facilitated interactions between individuals, for example providing a guide when a person is visiting from another office. When people meet in person a whole world opens up, they can have longer, deeper conversations, share common experiences, grow understanding through non-verbal cues and generally have more meaningful connections. Gateways are designed to increase in person communication. This benefits both the individuals and companies in that connected employees are more engaged and produce better work.
In 2018, I produced a series of wireframes (below) that continued to push this theme of gateway interactions. Connecting people on a more human level is a personal interest of mine and as we'd received a very positive response from potential customers about this concept I wanted to pursue it further. So far so good as further testing has yielded strong results.