Case Studies

Introducing the Poll Feature in WhatsApp — A UX Case Study

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Introducing the Poll Feature in WhatsApp — A UX Case Study

WhatsApp Polls? I vote Yes!


WhatsApp’s global domination is unprecedented, with more than 2 billion users accessing the app monthly as of March 2020[H. Tankovska, Jan 28, 2021]. It has seen itself in the numero uno position in the chat messaging world quite a few times.

However, being at the number one spot is not that easy as you need to stay ahead of other competitors by constantly making enhancements in the overall experience of using the product. And one such key enhancement is making your app or product feature-rich that builds on the continuous needs of your users.

Post my Bootcamp with IxDF, I continued my journey to become a UX Designer and picked up my second project.

My Challenge:

To design and test a Poll Feature in WhatsApp.

My Role:

UX Design, Prototyping, User Testing


3 Weeks

Tools used:

Figma, Miro

The Design Approach:

For this project, I decided to follow the Double-Diamond model of the design thinking process. This helped me set clear goals for each of the stages and work towards a viable solution.

Image Source: TestingTime

The Discovery:

I already had a fair amount of interaction with the Poll feature that has been implemented in various other social media and messaging platforms.

Therefore, I kicked off my process by doing some desk research on some of the most popular apps and social media channels that have implemented this feature for their users.

Following is the table which showcases a comparison between some of these popular products:

The competitor analysis of these well-known platforms helped me visualize two use cases for the Poll feature.

a) Use of Poll feature within group conversations

b) Use of Poll feature in WhatsApp Status

User Interviews:

With the two use cases in mind, I prepared a semi-structured questionnaire and interviewed 7 of my family and friends who use WhatsApp regularly and actively use at least one other social media/chat platform.

Since WhatsApp is largely popular among all age groups in India, I chose my participants considering who could represent each of these demographic groups mentioned below:

Indian WhatsApp usage by age — Livemint

Key Findings:

  • Ease of use and glitch-free experience has made WhatsApp the go-to medium for daily communication
  • Apart from personal chats with friends and family, participants use WhatsApp every day for work-related chats and to communicate with other business services in the local community
  • WhatsApp Groups is a crucial platform to disseminate information, raise a query, plan things and discuss topics
  • The participants had groups ranging from 10 to the maximum limit of 256 and actively participate in 3–4 of them regularly
  • While accessing group messages is easy, planning and decision-making are clumsy
  • Participants either form sub-groups or share external links such as Doodle, Google Forms etc. to plan events or vote for views and opinions
  • Indecisive conversations usually lead to muting groups, loss of information and endless chat scrolls

While the in-depth interviews helped me uncover the pain points in a group conversation, participants had mixed opinions about WhatsApp status. For some, the interaction is nice as they can share updates and see what others are doing but for others, it is not really interesting beyond simple status updates.

Hence, before I could proceed, I first needed to make sure WhatsApp Status could be my logical second use case to test the poll feature.

To proceed, I assumed that WhatsApp Status lacks interaction and engagement that the user needs to build a conversation.

With the limited time I had set for this project, I ran a small survey to see if I can justify my assumption. A total of 33 voluntary participants took part in the survey from which I could derive 28 unbiased & conclusive responses.

The key findings are:

  • The engagement level with WhatsApp status is fairly rare as 11 respondents have uploaded something as a status only once a year and 7 have interacted only once a month
  • 5 respondents have not uploaded anything to date as a WhatsApp Status
  • While sharing opinions and suggestions will depend a lot on the content, 24 out of the 28 respondents think they might like WhatsApp Status more if it can become engaging and interactive

My Takeaways:

  • The survey definitely helped me validate that WhatsApp Status lacks creative interactions
  • There is definitely an opportunity to make WhatsApp Status more engaging for people to use it more frequently
  • A new feature like Poll in an interactive format should be a good addition to the WhatsApp Status to kickstart a conversation

Redefining the Problem:

The insights from the discovery phase allowed me to rethink the problem definitions for both the use cases. I framed them into actionable problem statements, as mentioned below.

Definition 1:

People in the group need a way to make quick decisions on small things because long conversations lead to loss of information and no results.

Definition 2:

People uploading WhatsApp Statuses need an option to have some engagement because there is limited interaction that happens till the status is live for 24 hours.

Moving forward, the definitions helped me define my key user personas.

Primary Persona for WhatsApp Polls within a group conversation
Primary Persona for WhatsApp Polls in a WhatsApp Status update

The Development Process:

With the help of insights from the interview and competitive analysis, I created a prioritization matrix based on the MoSCoW principle to design the most important elements that build up the Poll feature in the group conversations.

MoSCoW Matrix — Feature Prioritization

For my secondary use case, i.e., to incorporate the Poll feature in WhatsApp Status, I emphasized creating interactive and engaging stickers that allow users to vote based on their likeability and mood. These stickers could be quickly added to the stories uploaded by the user.

Testing my Solutions:

I started with a low-fidelity paper prototype and quickly tested it with 5 of my colleagues and friends. I chose Android (which is unarguably the most used OS) as my platform to move ahead with my design. As recognized from the test, everyone was able to follow the basic flow of the feature interaction.

Low-fidelity screens

However, there were some interesting observations while I conducted the test with them:

  • During my early interviews, I found that most tapping/touch happens near the text input field at the bottom in a WhatsApp chat. So, I assumed that the Poll feature could be an addition to the attachment section like all other attachments. However, when prompted to create a poll feature within the group, 2 of my friends reached out to the top right more (Kebab) menu.
  • For my second use case, I asked participants to add a poll sticker within the WhatsApp Status. I observed that almost everyone was searching for the Poll feature as an explicit icon on the top app bar along with other feature icons rather than under the stickers section. This was interesting because even though the participants have interacted with a similar feature on other platforms, they had a very low recall of the same.

With these observations in mind, I moved to high-fidelity screens to better understand the user and their interaction with this new feature.

After creating my high-fidelity screens, I did remote user testing with 4 more participants to further refine my interactions and designs.

  • Poll feature discoverability in the group remains a tough choice between the attachment section and more menu
Both the options need to be subjected to further user testing
  • User icons/avatars were not a clear indicator of whether the Poll is anonymous or visible
Non-anonymous polls are now indicated with ‘Visible Answers’ on top
  • A checkmark and a vote percentage were sufficient feedback for the user to know which one they selected and which one got the highest votes, respectively
Changing the color of the progress bar(in this case the opacity) confused the user about their selected option
  • All the participants were able to spot the Poll icon as a part of the top app bar in WhatsApp status
Added up front for quick access and higher recall, thereby increasing the engagement level with the WhatsApp Status
  • The new Poll stickers in the form of fresh interaction received a unanimous yes from all the participants

Final Prototypes:

My limitations and the way forward:

Limited bandwidth and resources to carry out extensive user testing during this pandemic made this project quite challenging. I would have preferred to get offline and run actual prototype testing with more real users.

In the future, I would continue to test my solutions to see what emerges as the most viable choice as part of the Poll feature discoverability. With deeper insights and understanding, I would also work on including other sub-features outlined in the MoSCoW matrix.

What I learned from this case study:

This project has been a huge learning curve for me. It helped me understand how users interact daily on a chat application. I am also able to learn many of the guiding principles of Material Design which forms the backbone of applications like WhatsApp on Android.

With every new project, I can apply key UX skills to better myself at designing interfaces backed by the design thinking process.

Thank you so much for reading! I hope there are some takeaways for you as well. Connect with me on any of my social profiles like Twitter or LinkedIn to say hi 👋, and let’s chat about products that make a difference!

Introducing the Poll Feature in WhatsApp — A UX Case Study was originally published in UX Planet on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.