Pluck allows you to have disposable group conversations with friends across multiple platforms. Create a conversation, then add friends from Facebook, WhatsApp, Snapchat, Twitter, Skype and more to chat. Once the conversation is over Pluck removes it to reduce clutter. This means you can pluck out users from different groups for individual events an topics without creating an overwhelming catalogue of group chats.
Having too many group chats across all my messenger clients was getting irritating. There were groups for events long-gone and groups similar to others with one person missing. Group chats were being thrown around for temporary reasons or clashing-members reasons. The whole thing was a mess I didn’t want. But I love group chats! One way I thought to clear this up would be to put time limits on conversations. Another annoyance was how my friends were spread over multiple platforms. My remedy for both of these problems was an app that allowed users to create group conversations using any of their contacts and with the requirement of an expiry date. This is how the idea of Pluck came around and those were my two requirements for this app’s functionality.
Skeleton screens as wireframes
Pluck uses 100% content from the internet, so it made sense to implement skeleton screens whilst bringing this data in at a later stage. Whilst mocking up the wireframes for the app however, I realised I could create my layouts using skeleton screens. This allowed for quick, content-less design and was reusable in the final stages. In future I will definitely be creating my prototype wireframes with a skeleton screen style. Of course these were planned to be used in the release version as “preloaders” for content, but wireframing with them was a delight!
Create a conversation
It was important for users to dive right in. This meant making conversations quickly and understanding the app’s functionality at the same time. Two very clear screens achieved this. First users set the expiry date and name of their conversation (location optional for event planning). Users can then add contacts from any of their installed social applications. Invites to join the conversation are sent via Pluck push notification, or if the user doesn’t have the Pluck app; via the platform they were added from.
Creating my own sub-rules from the Google Material Design Guidelines was great fun. Putting these rules into action during the design was also excellent. In previous projects I found myself deviating from these rules during development because I had designed in 2D and not considered the real use of each element. With Pluck I decided to create orthographic mock-ups to help visualise how elements exist. The intention was to give the styling more purpose during development and understand how things should be added programmatically.
The end result
Chat apps need users. Luckily; Pluck didn’t. I soft-launched to a bunch of friends via word-of-mouth and technically, it all went smoothly. Friends were able to use the app without other friends having Pluck. The features that were being requested exceeded my programming ability, though. It didn’t take long before my techy friends got their hands on it and hacked the backend apart. The app is now offline and I may revisit the idea in the future, but for now I lack the technical knowledge and funds to keep it running or grow the audience.