Unknow(n) is an app created in the UX and Visual Interface Design certificate program at the University of Washington. The initial concept was created in a team of four, which we each individually took to completion.


At the beginning of the course, we selected the problem from a choice of 8 real-world problems, and we assigned to groups of four. I selected “Living in a Bubble”, with the following problem statement.

“In today’s world dominated by social media platforms, we are finding ourselves more isolated in social bubbles, where everyone agrees with us. How might we help people escape their bubbles and help understand each other with our different worldly views.”


Our team of four conducted interviews gathering valuable insight about their interactions online. We wanted to see how users used the internet in daily life, how they interacted with others, and instances of conflict and resolution.


From the 12 interviews, our team created affinity maps clustering common traits within our our interviewees. We narrowed our scope to 3 archetypes (The Engager, Observer, and Avoider) that best represented recognized behaviors, and took them through a  journey map. 


The team looked to published articles and discovered some of the psychology behind how and why we are drawn into bubbles.  We also reviewed other apps that took various approaches in creating civil discussion. Here is a review of some findings within interacting in an online environment.
Social and Psychological Factors of the Bubble
Cultural narratives enforce societal beliefs that uphold a conflict. These narratives close us off to alternative information.
  • Humans avoid hearing opposing views from those close to them, because it damages a sense of shared reality.
  • People can change their beliefs. Views must be: credible, hard to ignore, and strong enough to create cognitive dissonance

Online Environment
Everyday news has generally been perceived as more negative than positive. Mistrust in news has gone up almost 3-fold over the last 30 years
  • Harassment is an issue in all social media content. Problem is caused by an ease of accessibility and lack of filters.
  • Strategies must be made for civil discussioin. Effort must be respectful and mutual on both sides.  Moral reframing is a successful technique (i.e. tying a liberal ideal like same-sex marriage or national insurance, to a conservative ideal like moral purity, or patriotism)

  • How Marketing Encourages Tribalism 
    Monetized websites draw revenue primarily from the ads they host, so ads may be selected to reflect the tribalism of site users.
  • Modern marketers exploit our natural tendency to form
    tribes in order to build our loyalty to brands, products, and ideologies. Many marketing strategies are explicitly designed to create and accentuate tribal “us vs. them” divisions.
  • We may be able to help them escape their bubbles by:
      A. Interrupting the feedback loops, such as by introducing unexpected content. 
      B. Using marketers’ tactics to introduce and promote non- threatening new tribes designed to bring people together instead of divide them

  • Examples of Connecting Different Perspectives
    America in One Room - In an experiment, researchers put 526 Americans from 47 states in a resort for four days talking about political issues. In the end, the percentage of people who thought American democracy was working well rose from 30% to 60%

    Middle Ground - A YouTube series brings together strangers with opposing viewpoints to have a thoughtful discussion on divisive topics such as abortion, political ideology, religion, and immigration.

    Skype with Your Enemy - Video conversations. Young activist group in Gaza initiated video calls between Palestinians and Israelis since 2014. Some organizers were arrested in 2020.

    Hi from the Other Side - A service that matches people from across the political spectrum to have one-on-one conversations with each other.


    The interviewees showed a desire to reach outside the bubble, but concerns and fears of interacting online was the main concern. By creating a safe environment we could help users reach their goal.


    Our team created a variety of unique concepts after creating a matrix brainstorm and value proposition chart. Each one tackled a different aspect of the problem. We created a communication coach to help individuals learn to talk with empathy, a collaboration game to create trust, a face to face video social media app to create more accountability, and randomizer that exposes people to new ideas.


    We conducted a usability study determining that the Randomizer was the most desired. The other ideas had many concepts that were desired, but ultimately the Randomizer had the most interest. There were some desired features from the other 3 concepts that would carry over in my prototype.


    Each of our team members started creating our own versions of the Randomizer. Some features I wanted to add were interactivity to have users have the option to engage more if desired. Here I map out 5 user flows which are then made into paper prototypes.


    From the paper prototypes, wireframes were created in Figma. Still in a rough draft stage, these black and white versions have added clarity, with text replacing dummy text.


    I began working on the design based on psychology behind the colors, picking a purple (adventurous, mysterious) and orange (friendly, exciting). From there I picked softer tones that mimicked a calming sunset. I wanted to attempt buttons that were neumporphic, and keep the look clean and friendly. Here are screens from the final design, with the style guide below.