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Google Design Challenge

Role

Product Designer /Researcher

Timeline

2 weeks

Tools

Figma, Invision

Methods

Comparative analysis, Usability testing
A social experience designed for new and experienced college students who seek community on their campus

Project Overview

As a candidate for Google's UX Design internship for 2020, I had the opportunity to tackle their design exercise. The turnaround for this deliverable was roughly 1 week, encouraging prospects to think outside of the box and come up with viable solutions to a problem. The following is my approach to one of this year’s prompts, to which my solution allowed me to move forward in the recruitment process and land an interview!

The prompt: 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.
Year
2020
Timeline
1 week
Role
Research, Design, User Testing
Project Files
Figma, Google Drive

Research

Because I was unable to conduct interviews during my research process, I immediately thought of finding and analyzing existing input and data from current college students to lead me in a direction that would help me understand relevant, large-scale needs. Therefore, these insights would assist in designing an experience for both experienced and new students that bridges and intertwines the campus community. 

I ended up discovering the National Student Satisfaction Report which aims to understand how student’s experiences impact their satisfaction. The report provides the results from a series of questions asked over the years where the level of importance and satisfaction among students are counted.

National Student Satisfaction Report - 2017

Understanding the Problem

Using the provided metrics, I synthesized my research and divided up my findings into four categories: Finance, academics, expression/identity, and social. 
- Students need to be able to practice freedom of expression
-
Students feel there is a need better financial resources and assistance. Financial aid information should be common knowledge.
- Students need more efforts to improve academic quality and experience 
- Current students for the most part don’t feel part of a community, however new students seek community engagement  
-Campus activities and events are not promoted enough

These categories would help me understand the scope of the problem and thus formulate a primary design goal.

Project Goal

How might I design an individualized experience for mentors and mentees that embraces identity & expression and allows new students to obtain a variety of resources -- i.e. financial, academic, social -- while having the ample opportunity of establishing more than one connection. 

Competitor Analysis

What I wanted to do after observing and analyzing the data from the Student Satisfaction Report was conduct a small competitor analysis of programs that are pertinent to the community and satisfaction of students at my university, UC Berkeley. These programs facilitate connections between new and experienced students. 

What I did was take note of the strengths and weaknesses of two well established programs at UC Berkeley: a course advice Facebook group and Queer Cal Pals, a mentoring program that serves LGBTQ+ identifying students.

Facebook Groups - Course Advice

A hub for students to ask each other questions about any course at Berkeley.

Queer Cal Pals

A queer mentorship program at UC Berkeley that connects incoming and experienced students through partnerships and other programming.

Ideation

Visualizing the Flow

Mid-Fidelity Prototyping

Usability Testing

I decided to conduct a series of usability tests during the early, mid-fidelity stage to ensure my testers focused on the real nuts and bolts of information architecture and navigation flow.  I could then take their feedback and iterate up to my high-fidelity prototype. 
I wanted to focus the usability testing on the onboarding process, since the majority of the app’s functionality depends on the matchmaking and setting up a unique user profile to make the experience more individualized.

Purpose: To test and explore the practicality of the onboarding/matchmaking process

Some Questions

I. What would you change about the onboarding process?
II. What would make the process more personal or accessible? 
III. What frustrated you? Was there something you disliked or thought was impractical?
IV. What do you think of the options?
V. Do you think it's important to have the option of filtering results to people of the same ethnicity, gender, religion, etc. 

Insights

I. It seems pretty simple and straight forward which is good. It’s very simple. But Zodiac signs, hobbies and skills could be asked for fun to make the experience more interesting 
II. In terms of being professional, it may be beneficial to limit accessibility to college students, since this product is intended for college students.
III. There needs to be more randomly specific questions. Like any allergies you may have, if you’ve experienced these things in your life (such as adoption, homelessness, etc.) … shared experiences. So that you can have a better understanding of the person’s background and perspective. It would be more efficient. The more questions and info you give the user, the more specific their match will be
IV.
The questions are very general, add mixed to ethnicity or have other options. Be more inclusive and conscious of other identities.
V. Yes because it would make your goals easier to achieve… satisfying the needs of the users. Because at the end of the day its part of the experience.

User Pain Points

- The onboarding questions are a little too general and simple
- There aren’t enough questions that give an insight to the user’s background. 
- There isn’t a big enough disclaimer that the questionnaire/matchmaking process may take a while to complete

Final Design

I sourced typography, colors, and iconography from Google's Material Design API. I wanted the final design to resemble Google's established design language with vibrant colors and clean, flat design.

Try exploring the final prototype for yourself here!

Responding to User Feedback

Questions are now more personal rather than general in order to be inclusive to identity and perspective and more accurately match a mentor with a mentee. There would be more questions, however the prototype displays only a few.

“The more specific questions you ask the user, the more specific their match will be”

What was answered/solved?
The onboarding experience being too general and simple.

There is now a disclaimer stating the onboarding and matchmaking process will take a few minutes. This was done to be more conscious of the user’s time!

What was answered/solved?
By adding a disclaimer, users are allowed to come back later and they know what they are getting into before they start. This informs the user rather than surprises them.

UX Notes

In order to assist the matchmaking algorithm and ensure the user’s needs are met, giving the option to choose whether or not having a member of the same ethnicity, religious affiliation, gender, etc. is essential in making the user feel that their identity is important and meaningful rather than being matched with someone who is completely opposite from them. 

The interface for the question pages are very minimal in style and interaction to focus on content and make sure the user completes the intended task without and issues or stress

The loading screen stating “we are matching you with your mentor/ee” is a deliberate choice to increase the perception that the product is personal, whereas an instantaneous display of the result after spending the time to answer the questions may make the user feel their work and time wasn’t productive.

Because Meetup allows users to meet and connect with other mentees and mentors, I didn’t want the user to forget about the purpose and intent behind having their own mentor. 

Thus, throughout the the UI, there are elements that prioritize your mentor, such as always listing them first in the messages screen.

Groups

Having a groups page gives students the opportunity to find communities  that fit their needs, whether that be for a specific class, hobby, etc. Similar to Course Advice and Queer Cal Pals, this is where new students and experienced students are allowed to engage with each other and establish impactful connections. 

This page allows students to receive and offer advice or knowledge and find a sense of belonging, striving to provide solutions to the problems discussed earlier.  

Dashboard

Since data shows students generally don’t feel connected to their campus socially and aren’t aware of what goes on, having a dashboard or feed aims to bridge the disconnect students feel by allowing students to share events, post questions, and meet each other.

Reflections

This project was a great opportunity that helped me realize what I could do under such tight time constraints. I had a great time designing a completely new platform from scratch that I wish I could have benefitted from during my first year of college. Looking back, I wish I had more time to conduct initial interviews to really flush out my research and better understand the needs of local students. While I ultimately didn't get selected for the internship, I'm very proud of my solution and the hard work I put into showcasing my design abilities. Thank you for reading!