Communicate with people nearby

An app prototype that I designed with some development feedback from Nicholas Glenn, co-founder of Helpful Human in Seattle.

Pain point

Digital layers allow us to connect with our "friends". But if I wanted to host a block party for people I don't know I would have to print physical flyers and stick them to their doors.

What's out there?



  • Message your neighbors
  • Supports commerce
  • User authenticity


  • Barrier to entry
  • Only works at home
  • No incentive to be active

Yik Yak


  • Low barrier to entry
  • Supports travel
  • Less focus on profiles


  • Cyber-bullying
  • Voting system became a popularity contest
  • Seedy notifications



  • Conversations are public
  • Location can be attached


  • Location isn’t required
  • Messages are tied to a username
Yik Yak’s ultimate failure became a point of study. I determined that much of their failure was due to the platform-centric popularity contest, the distraction of profiles, and the lack of targeting meaningful use-cases. These helped guide a few goals for the feature set of Colony.


  • Focus on where the message came from, not the person
  • Feel secure and accountable to prevent bullying
  • Easy to filter information into what you’re looking for
  • Not try and be another social network
  • Include an incentive to be active on the platform
  • Support multiple use cases

Map or list?

I initially had wanted to see communication visually on a map. Based on using similar platforms, the need for a list view was very apparent. Toggling between these would support different methods of discovery.


Major screens were laid out, with all major features broken down in a Marie Kondo sort of method.


The placement of these features focused on the proximity to the right thumb, followed by cues taken from the placement of similar features in other apps.


Early motion mockups were created and tested on real humans!
Post categories were narrowed down based on feedback.

General discussion





Screens were fleshed out with an appearance close to the original wireframe. This would facilitate further testing.