Switch Online

An App Enhancement Case Study
View Prototype


Nintendo Switch Online is an online service offered by Nintendo to customers who own the Nintendo Switch console.  Its primary purpose is to enable online multiplayer connectivity for compatible games while also providing additional benefits such as discounts and access to a virtual console library.  Nintendo developed a smartphone app in tandem with this service to extend connectivity to users on their phone.  While the app offered some integration with the online service, many users felt that it fell short of being useful and complementary to the online experience. I sought to rectify this by implementing a dynamic social media feature that integrates with Nintendo’s intent of the app, to maximize the usefulness of the Switch Online membership and connect users with their friends.

My Role

UX Researcher
UX Designer
UI Designer

Research Approach

Having an existing service already established made it easy to research other competitors for industry standard ideas.  Different gaming platforms such as Steam, Playstation, and Xbox provided ideas for cataloging games and designing a UI for navigating through existing assets. While this could’ve been useful for enhancing certain features of the Switch Online experience, I decided to focus on social media services such as Instagram and implement what they did well within the app. Discord also provided inspiration by demonstrating how an intersection of voice/chat with the gaming community can be used for a wide variety of services.

To further dive into the minds of what users want, I selected a group of people to interview based on the experiences owning and interacting with the Switch Online app. Being Switch owners as well, they had clear thoughts on how the app could be used and where it felt under-developed.  Nearly all participants expected additional interactivity with their friends, being able to send direct messages at a minimum.
When diving into competitor research, I wanted to focus on services that represented a good intersection of gaming, communication, and content sharing.  Understanding strengths and weaknesses of these services would later be helpful in determining an original idea for enhancing the Switch Online app.
Having gathered a sufficient amount of research, I sought to define a user to focus my ideas. Many of my interviewees shared similar traits where they worked full-time jobs, often demanding, and found themselves very short on free time. While they would’ve enjoyed using this to game or socialize, other obligations had to be factored in whether that be social commitments or or other responsibilities.  For simplicity sake, I designed a persona around a common after work obligation, spending time with family.

Design Approach

After gathering my feedback and sketching layout ideas, I opted for the enhanced social feature to center around an “Instagram-like feed” where you could access screenshots and posts as well as navigate to direct messaging.  Embedded within all this would be game invitations that would help you transition from your phone onto a joined game on your Nintendo Switch console.
It was important to me to preserve the Nintendo brand while implementing the interface for all these features, presenting them with the fun and friendly ambiance that Nintendo often designs into their visual elements.  Growing up with Nintendo, it wasn’t hard for me to recall and gather retro art that inspired various visual icons that I’d designed for interacting with posts.

Synonymous with power-ups from the Super Mario series, I wanted the user to feel like the interface was almost like playing one of the beloved games.

Usability Testing

After finalizing my high fidelity wireframes I conducted some simple tasks that were common social media interactions:

1. Comment on a post.
2. Respond to a direct message.
3. Accept a game invitation.

All users were able to accomplish these tasks without issue; however, I received consistent but meaningful feedback that mostly centered around the notification display the direct message.  Additional feedback was gathered on various alternative screens for displaying the message list and a conversation screen between friends.

9 second

average completion time for each user, per task.

Less than 1

incorrect navigation tap per user, per task.


Using the usability testing results, I was able to iterate another version of the design that implemented a full screen direct message menu.  Additional tweaks included a separate messaging icon and ability to directly enter a direct message conversation with a friend by tapping their avatar.  I also provided an example of an expired link to a game invite to demonstrate how the app would communicate time sensitive game sessions.

Next Steps

The utility of this app could far extend beyond the bounds of the social feed that I designed in this project.  Additional comments from my interviews during my initial research centered around the desire for a navigable e-commerce catalog that would allow users to browse and purchase games that could then download directly to their console, much like how other gaming platforms such as Steam currently work.  An achievement system was also a recurring comment, showing various badges and/or accomplishments earned as well as the ability to view friends’ achievements.