Lina Johansson

Senior Designer


Product Development


Playdate is an activity/social planner app and startup I lead for two years before launching CommonMarker. The app’s purpose was to aid people in setting up group activities or finding new activity partners that enjoyed similar hobbies. The idea came to me while traveling solo where meeting people who enjoy the same hobbies as you, can be a challenge. A Meetup spin-off, where users could set up an activity with one specific user, a group, or create a public event. The project was my first business venture and startup. It also was my first experience with UI and product design where I learned a lot about user experience.

The Challenge

The design challenge was to create an app that encourages users to want to reach out to strangers to set up a group or one-on-one activities. An added challenge was to give some incentive to users to use the app since there was no monetary value involved. The app needed to delight and make users excited to go and meet new people. We wanted users to feel safe when meeting up with strangers so profiles needed to be verified. We looked at dating and social networking apps for inspiration for obvious similarities. We liked the review system where people could leave a comment similar to Couchsurfing or Airbnb. We also let users link their other social platforms to give their profile more credibility to other users.

The Solution

Working through the user journeys and information architecture we created a calendar and an activity feed. This lets the user create new activities seamlessly and have an overview of everything on their calendar. Finding new buddies and public activities had to be easy. Profiles matched based on the activity the user was searching for and location. Recent buddies would come first, or the option to find new buddies in the area.

The Takeaways

This project was put on the shelf in 2014, but the experience gained was a return on investment. This project taught me a lot about design leadership, business initiatives, delegating tasks, and all the challenges of bootstrapping your app. Our team never grew beyond three people and it never made it past the initial mockups and wireframes stage before it got shelved. Playdate made me work through user journeys, information architecture, and UI design. It was a great challenge and helped pushed me creatively and professionally. The project taught me to pivot, collect user interviews, and follow where the research pointed to. It was my first time working with app developers and learning wireframing platforms like Balsamiq. All the experience learned I have now poured into my newer projects.