Guide-U

UX/UI IOS PLATFORM

Helping new students navigate their new college environment through social networking between mentors and mentees.

 
CHOSEN PROMPT #2

Your school wants to strengthen the community by encouraging experienced students to connect with new students and help them adjust to campus life. Design an experience that allows mentors and mentees to discover each other. Consider the needs of both mentors and mentees, including how someone may become a mentor and how to connect mentors to mentees.

MOTIVATION

Mentorship is a crucial part of becoming a productive member of a community. As someone who moved into a foreign country to pursue an arts education, building a support system and finding mentors to guide me and help me grow educationally, emotionally, socially, and artistically was a fundamental aspect of my college experience. 

TOOLS

Adobe Illustrator

Adobe InDesign

Adobe XD

Google Forms

THE PROBLEM

Mentorship is provided but not a required aspect of my university's experience. Students deserve access to an efficient, organized, and fun university onboarding experience that is able to create a valuable experience for both mentors and mentees. 

ROLE

UX/UI Designer

_User Interviews
_Wireframing

_Visual Design

_User-Testing

DURATION

1 Week

A DESIGN CHALLENGE EMERGED...

How might I design an application that can inspire new students to become an active part of the university community, and how might I design an application that motivates current students that want to become mentors? 

THE SOLUTION

Guide-U is a mobile mentorship application which facilitates the connection and interaction between student mentees and student mentors and enhances the mentorship experience between the two target users.

 
 
 
 

A thoughtful

onboarding

experience.

 

Mentorship programs should be accessible to all schools and institutions, which is why I created a universal application that could accommodate every school that chooses to download the app.

Using #interests to bring mentors and mentees together.

The biggest problem that individuals had with bad mentorship programs is the lack of connection between individuals. #Interests gathers relevant tags to bring people together in activities, events, and forums, as well as match them to the right mentorship groups.

An academic application that covers all its bases.

This application is designed to organize every student's resources to aid them in their pursuit of mentorship. The menu enables quick and accessible tools to help students succeed.

A place where everyone can reach each other, with just one click.

This application does not discriminate between Apple and Android devices when it comes to communication. Here, students can keep all school-related conversations in one place.

A guided mentorship program to help all students grow.

I created a "roadmap" program that helps motivate students to get tasks done through the application, as well as track their growth throughout the semester. With Roadmap, students can see their journeys from being a mentee to becoming a mentor.

Where mentees can become mentors too.

After 15 weeks (1 semester), mentees are encouraged to apply as mentors for the next semester. With all their data in one app, mentees will have a seamless transition into their new role.

Not every algorithm is perfect, which
is why students have a choice.

A frustration that I wanted to address is the question, "what if my mentorship group just doesn't work?" With this application, students are given the voice and the choice to request to change mentorship groups with just one tap.

Accepting an application is just as easy as completing it.

I wanted to cover the administrative side of the application as well, and show how an administrative user's view would look like on the application. Through this I am able to confirm the versatility and usability of the application.

UNDERSTANDING THE PROBLEM

My first approach to understanding this problem was to process the prompt through brainstorming. Mind-mapping is an important way to start my thought process of a problem, and creates a foundation of divergent thinking for my projects. 

INITIAL

BRAINSTORM

To begin every project, I create a mind map with questions and potential solutions to the problem. This process helps me identify potential focus points moving forward.

SECONDARY RESEARCH: FINDING RELEVANCE

When starting a project and tackling a specific problem, I like to develop a broader understanding of the topic and why it is important. This is done through secondary research.

Defining Mentorship

Mentoring is a system of semi-structured guidance whereby one person shares their knowledge, skills and experience to assist others to progress in their own lives and careers. Mentors need to be readily accessible and prepared to offer help as the need arises - within agreed bounds.

—Cambridge University

Why is mentorship important?

75% of executives say mentoring has been critical to their career development, according to a survey by the American Society for Training and Development.

Observations

Mentorship is not a mandatory aspect of all university onboarding experiences, including the Academy of Art University.

The current mentorship program at my university is inefficient and hard to keep track of.

There is currently no application affiliated with my school that can help students connect with each other.

Competitive Audit

LinkedIn: A great mobile application driving the employment industry, but not necessarily ​with the most intuitive UI, recently expanding with "career advice" It doesn't cover a university students' needs for resources, etc.

Mentorship: Application with clean and minimal design, however looks outdated and functions just as a second LinkedIn.

MentorcliQ: Great focused use cases expressed in the app's site, however it is not accessible to students and does not work in a university setting

PRIMARY RESEARCH: CONDUCTING A SURVEY

My first method of conducting primary research was through creating a survey to find patterns of wants and needs of University students with regard to mentorship. I collected 50 responses from students across 27 universities.

Link to Google Form

Google Form Results

UNDERSTANDING OF RELEVANCE

100% of surveyed individuals believed that mentorship is important.

ACTIVITIES PREFERENCES

The most wanted activities/features for hypothetical mentors and mentees are networking, getting to know the area (both school and sightseeing), and academic mentorship

MENTOR CATEGORIES

86% and 90% of people thought that campus life and academic life were important types of mentorship for students to participate in.

SHORTCOMINGS

People who expressed negative sentiment about their university mentorship program said they experienced flakiness, an inability to contact people efficiently, poor mentor-mentee pairing, and said that it was too time consuming.

SUPPLY VS DEMAND

72% of participants were not part of a mentorship program in their university experience, while 100% of individuals surveyed believed that mentorship is an important experience.

 
 
 
PRIMARY RESEARCH: ASKING THE RIGHT QUESTIONS

My second method of conducting primary research was to create interview questions for young adults that have either experienced being a mentor or mentee.

Warm-Up​
  • Thank for participating

  • Intro to project ​

  • Expectations

    • Time frame (15-30) minutes)

    • Answer only questions that are comfortable

    • No right or wrong answers

  • See this more as a discussion, rather than an interview

Overview
  1. What is your current job/duties (apart from school)?

  2. Tell me more about your experience of being a mentor/mentee

  3. Tell me about how you became a mentor/mentee; were there certain requirements/prerequisites that you needed to be a mentor/mentee?

  4. What things did you enjoy about the experience?

  5. Tell me more about frustrations that you have/had during your mentorship experience 

  6. How were you paired with mentees?

  7. What types of things did you do to connect with your mentor/mentee?

  8. Did you utilize applications in this process? If so, what were they?​

  9. If you were to have an application to assist with the mentorship process, what would you like to see in the application?

  10. Why do you like mentorship?​

  11. Are you still connected to your mentors/mentees?

Interview Results

I decided to interview three people that I knew have been or are currently affiliated with a mentorship program. The goal of my interview process was to find out specific pain points and benefits each individual has had with their mentorship experience. Through this, I can better understand how to create a narrative for this application's personas and user journeys.

 
PRIMARY RESEARCH PROCESS INSIGHTS

After analyzing my research results from both the surveys and interviews, I identified the following main problems that I wanted to address with the creation of this application.

Problems from Mentors​

  • Hard to quantify and schedule the time needed to accommodate students in need of help

  • There is no streamlined communication platform between mentors and mentees

  • There is no structured/organized way to help guide the meetings with mentees. In other words, there is too much freedom in what we can do and not enough guidance for mentors

  • It's hard to connect with individuals when they have absolutely nothing in common interests, majors, etc.

  • It's hard to find a balance between encouraging students and forcing them to participate

Problems from Mentees​

  • The mentor groups sometimes are not a good fit, and there is no choice in being able to switch mentor groups

  • It was challenging to get set up with a mentor; the process took a long time

  • It was hard to stay motivated to stay in the mentorship group when other mentees were flaky

  • Individuals were interested in becoming mentors but found the application process too complicated

 

PERSONAS

I decided to create a persona for each user type to help me create hypothetical user scenarios that I could focus on in creating my application.

USE CASES

With the aforementioned personas, I decided to flesh out the functionality and experiences I wanted the app to deliver for each user type.

DETAILED USER JOURNEY

Through the research that I conducted, I was able to identify the main application sections that I needed to address the prompt.

LOW FIDELITY WIRES & USER TESTING

I had the opportunity to test my prototypes with 6 individuals, two of which were a part of my interview group. Overall, I was able to learn more about how the different UX patterns that I was using were helping/hurting the problem. In addition, I was able to further the conversation with these individuals as to how different types of buttons were more successful than others (specifically with regard to the menu placement and shape).

Overall, my test users were able to understand and navigate through the information architecture, despite the low fidelity nature of my paper prototypes. My graduate test users were also excited with the features that Guide-U had to offer, and expressed how the problems which I am addressing in this app were relevant. I found that the main issues were differentiating between the three distinct users, as well as finding a balance between displaying relevant information while not overwhelming the user.

 

Task Flows

REFLECTION

This project was one of the most challenging yet rewarding projects that I have completed. I thought it was going to be difficult to complete the entire UX/UI design process in just one week. Last semester, I was given the same task to create an application from scratch, but with 15 weeks instead of one. Nonetheless, because I was more familiar with the design process and what applications I like to work with most, I was able to apply what I had learned through last semester and deliver work that is more thorough and informed. One challenge I encountered was that I was tempted to constantly expand the scope of the project. However, at a certain point I had to stop myself in order to make sure that I produce quality work in time. 

 

Mentorship is something that I personally value as a developing designer. With my experience of being a mentee in freshman year, and now being a mentor as a Senior Resident assistant, I personally went through the hardships of moving to a completely new country, let alone a new University. 

This design challenge was somewhat of a passion project. I was highly motivated by the idea that my design solutions could potentially help other individuals avoid the problems and stresses that I had as a freshman. This application is something that I would be proud of giving to my freshman self in the past.

KEY TAKEAWAY

With meticulous design process discipline and passion for the design problem, rapid production is possible but should not be done at the cost of quality. 

Didn't your mother tell you that networking is good for you?

Ask me about my plants🌿, or anything design related at juliafernandez.design@gmail.com.

 

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© JULIA FERNANDEZ 2020