Mark Cuban is certainly onto something with his new app, Cyber Dust. Messages sent via Cyber Dust disappear after 24 seconds and leave no digital footprint which is pretty significant considering that privacy is now a bigger issue than ever. I played around with this "Snapchat for Messages" app for a few days, and below are my overall thoughts on the app and how I would improve the UI/UX.
Change The Name
Cyber Dust sounds way too serious for an app that lets you use expressive monkey emoticons. I wouldn't want to say "Add me on Cyber Dust" because that just doesn't sound cool. The name needs to be much more catchy so that it will resonate better with individuals. For the purpose of this redesign, I simplified it to just Dust but even that can be improved.
A Friendlier Home Screen
With the home screen I cleaned up the icons and introduced a friendlier color scheme. I wanted better visual representation of the status of the messages for my current chats, which I think is achieved using the colored arrows. A solid arrow means that the message has been viewed, while an outlined arrow is for pending messages. The direction of the arrow correlates with inbound and outbound messages.
There was barely any visual consistency between the two menus opened via the header icons of the app. The blurred background effect also made the screens look cluttered and on top of that, the red words burned my eyes. I cleaned up the design and introduced selected states for the icons (always important!)
Cyber Dust lets you send texts or photos to multiple friends at once. The current interface is a little odd with the huge text size and heavy drop shadows. My design keeps this screen a little more consistent with the individual chats you'll see next.
The Chat Screen
This is where all the magic happens. For the chat screen I'd like to talk about a few things:
Context: With the disappearing messages one can easily forget the context of the conversation after not chatting for a while. Have a look at the left screen for an example of what I mean. A possible solution would be to display your last message that your friend just replied to, and have that disappear along with your friend's message.
Estimated Time of Message Self-Destruct: This is currently represented with a dot that slowly shrinks as the 24 seconds run out. I still think this is a bit difficult to gauge the time left, and so my redesign uses filled circle that disappears in a clockwise manner.
Screenshots: People have brought up a good point about screenshots. Can't someone just take a screenshot of the message before it disappears, thereby eliminating the whole point of a disappearing conversation app? My solution to this is simple - just don't show names on the chat screen. Let people screenshot all they want, but without a name of the person on the other end, those screenshots are useless.
But just as a slap on the wrist, my redesign shows a larger screenshot notification and adds an exclamation point next to the message captured.
Pressing the downward arrow next to "Chatting With" brings up the window shown below. This shows the person's name but covers up the entire conversation to prevent screenshotting.
If anyone from the Cyber Dust team is reading this I hope its been useful!