Like many people, my life was turned upside down by Covid. I had just moved to a new city, and was far from my friends and family. Alone in my apartment, I started writing letters, both to pass the time and to keep in touch with loved ones who were far away. It wasn't long before I ran out of friends to write to. I needed pen pals. I thought, "It's 2021! There's got to be a way to meet pen pals on the internet!"

A quick Google search brought me to Interpals, a site focused on connecting people around the world for language exchange and cultural communication. Intrigued, I signed up immediately.

I've been using the site for several months now, and the more I use it the more potential I see in it. One of the key features lacking in Interpals is the absence of a mobile version, which of course limits their potential userbase.

And so, partly as a challenge to myself and partly for fun, I began to design Interpals as it would exist on mobile.

First Steps

When I'm designing for Mobile, I prioritize simplicity and ease of use. In the case of Interpals, my first goal is to condense the robust features of the desktop experience to something a little more manageable.

The essence of the site's functionality is: searching for new friends, viewing the profiles of other users, sending and receiving messages, and customizing your own profile. Therefore, developing these features first is the highest priority.

The point of the service is to connect people around the world, and the easier and more accessible it is to do so, the more users Interpals can attract.

New Users

The first experience for every new user is the Onboarding process. If we want people to stick around after downloading Interpals, we need to make their initial experience a good one.

Creating an account

The initial Onboarding process is simple, and once the user creates an account they are guided through the process of creating a profile.

What are you into?

There are over 5 million users active on Interpals. By adding featured "interests" to their profiles, users can easily find others who share their hobbies and pastimes.

Search Function

The Interpals desktop site has a robust search functionality, which allows for incredibly precise results. This is excellent when using a mouse and keyboard, but it involves a lot of toggles and checkboxes that could be overwhelming for users on mobile, particularly for those who aren't so picky when it comes to making friends.

As I've done before, I have broken down the search filters and condensed them to their most essential elements. In doing so, I hope to make the process of searching for friends as painless as possible.

Improved Dropdowns

There are almost 200 countries and over 150 languages featured on Interpals. This makes for exhaustive dropdown menus that no one enjoys scrolling through— particularly on mobile.

To get the best of both worlds, I designed new dropdown menus that allow for autofill assisted search as well as standard scrolling.


This case study is a work in progress! Stay tuned while more features are explored and developed.