Exploring how to answer ‘unanswerable’ questions in the context of search.

Search engines have come a long way, but some questions are too personal, too subjective, or sometimes just need to be pondered. For these types of questions conventional search isn’t much help. I spent a lot of time thinking about how we can people with these "unanswerable" questions.

  • Where are these questions being asked currently?

  • What conditions will they ask?

  • How to establish trust in a UI? 

  • Will people help each other?

  • What makes a healthy community of contributors? 

Below is a simple arch of my exploration as it started from blue sky concepts that leaned heavily on technology to the launch of iOS and Android apps that built a dynamic community of contributors. The solution relied on crowd-sourcing answers and the trick was finding the right size groups that encouraged engagement. 

Sketchy ideas

Huddle started Jan 2016 with scrappy talks exploring how to answer "impossible questions" in new contexts. I used pen and paper to coalesce ideas in a quick and dirty InVision paper prototype

Vision Project  

I paired up with a PM for several weeks testing ideas with rapid iteration. I shared a new Huddle prototype to the larger team of a a few hundred. Actual UI was not yet concern as we focused on features that would delight users. I used the mantra "get in and get out" to describe our engagement style. 

Miles of wireframes

This is essential foundation work. I like to keep it organized and all pages and states in one file - that is until it gets unwieldily or there's a major product change.

Version 1.0

Our first coded prototype allowed us to test many versions quickly and we found traction around anonymous Q&A within small groups. 

Internal tests had found a little magic.
People were glued to the app.”
”’s time to test in the real world.


For our first external test, we labored to identify an audience that had lots of questions, we decided on recent college grads. I initiated a redesign of the UI so it would be tailored for the new grads and started with a group exercise to discuss brand attributes.

Nice attributes

I looked for inspiration in apps, sites, and in everyday products that were used by new grads. A standout was this image by Jambox that was cool, casual, and something you wanted to take with you everywhere. 

Review x times

I worked quickly and independently on a self-driven formal design process. I followed the steps: Define, Concept, Design, Iterate, Refine. About three rounds of design in all. And finally, I presented the new design made specifically for new grads.  

Screen Shot 2017-04-19 at 12.11.47 AM.png

App Identity

I created the identity to express intrigue and curiosity, the same feelings our users might have in the app.  

hive ui changes complexion reduction.png


Along came a design trend called Complexion Reduction that strove to Minimizes the overall weight of a UI to is barest parts. The result is clean, modern, and it maximizes the impact of the content. I was hooked and made some adjustments to our UI. 

Introducing Hive. Rebranded for new college grads.

Quick answers in anonymous groups from like-minded people.