Many of us rely on apps of some sort to make plans and decisions together. However, few of us use apps designed specifically to facilitate this purpose. Consequently, organizing get-together details ends up more difficult than it needs to be.

That’s why we set out to make an app particularly with group decision-making in mind. In this post and the next, we’ll share some of the features of our platform, Sujjest, so you can see how its interface improves upon the most comparable apps already in wide use.

Messaging is by far the most common way most people make decisions together and it’s also the medium least specialized for facilitating group decisions. Messaging works fine one-on-one and in tiny groups. However, the more voices involved in a planning conversation, the less likely a group is to reach a satisfying decision just by talking.

Coordinating can be a pain. Participation rates tend to be low and freeform text is inherently a messy medium when it comes to sorting through options and weighing everyone’s preferences.

There are lots of digital messaging apps out there, but email and SMS (text) are still the most common. The interfaces for both email and SMS begin with an inbox, which presents each thread as a compact item in a list, displaying just enough information to allow quick identification of the conversation: the names and images of those involved, a subject (in the case of email), a snippet of the most recent message, and a timestamp.

In group decisions, you also need a concise way to recognize the decisions you’re involved in. Since Sujjest isn’t just another general purpose communication channel, the salient details we’re able to show in our inbox for each compact decision session are more specific:

1. What’s being decided,
2. What’s been decided, and
3. Who’s deciding

“What’s being decided” is a prompt: a question or topic in response to which participants can suggest options and approve options suggested by others. A prompt frames and initiates the decision to be made. In a messaging app, the closest thing to a prompt is an email subject.

In Sujjest, any number of related prompts can be posed in a given session. When a sufficient number of people in a group approve an option it becomes a decision and the prompt and its winning option are shown as a pair. That’s “what’s been decided.”

A typical group decision-making session will have more participants than the average text or email thread and there’s less need to fit so many sessions onscreen in the inbox. Due to these differences, we’ve alloted a lot more space for the names and images of all decision participants in the form of a side-scrolling row.

If a participant in a session has not agreed to a group decision, their picture and name will fade out a bit, so you can quickly see who’s agreed to the existing decisions and who hasn’t. Those who haven’t yet agreed must do so to have a say in related prompts—that helps keep your group on the same page.

Each compact session listed in Sujjest’s inbox has a slim header with a timestamp, a counter displaying the number of options that participants have suggested, a comment counter, and a menu control. As with the display order of threads in text or email inboxes, the sessions with the most recent activity are listed first.

Sujjest’s inbox takes the best aspects of the familiar messenger-style inbox interface and repurposes it as the ultimate way to keep track of group plans. It’s the only inbox that allows users to see what’s decided, what’s left to decide and who’s involved at a glance.

While Sujjest provides space for messaging, it’s just as easy for a group to decide together with little to no side-conversation. In part two of this series, we’ll compare Sujjest with a couple common polling apps to show how making plans by voting together is a better method for most group decisions. Give us a follow to be notified when part two is up.

To play with an interactive demo of Sujjest and to sign up for our wait list, visit Sujjest.com. We’re close to releasing our beta and we look forward to seeing if you find it useful for making plans with friends. Thanks for reading and see you next time!

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